Trevone Boykin

Defensive Backs

TCU junior quarterback Trevone Boykin is having a phenomenal year. This season, Boykin has thrown for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns and has run for 548 yards and seven touchdowns. Thanks to Boykin’s great play, the Horned Frogs rank eighth in the nation in passing offense, averaging 323.6 yards per game. Additionally, TCU ranks second in scoring offense, averaging 45.9 points a game.

Texas’ defensive backs are going to have to step up to stop Boykin and the Horned Frogs’ high flying offense. The Longhorns will have to stop TCU junior wide receivers Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee, who have caught a combined 10 touchdowns this season and amassed 1,229 receiving yards. Texas will have its hands full against TCU, but, if the defensive backs can contain the Horned Frogs’ passing attack, it’ll be in a good position to pull off the upset.

Running Backs

Entering the season, the Longhorns wanted their identity to be the running game. But after a few injuries and suspensions, the running game struggled for most of the season. But over the past three games, Texas has been able to run the ball efficiently.  Texas’ running backs — senior Malcolm Brown and junior Johnathan Gray — have rushed for 495 yards and seven touchdowns during its current three game winning streak.

The Longhorns need their running backs to play efficiently against the Horned Frogs. TCU’s rushing defense is solid, as it ranks 21st in the nation, holding its opponents to only 123.1 yards per game. Texas will need Brown and Gray to rush for more than that on Thanksgiving.

Special Teams

Texas head coach Charlie Strong has often asked his players if “that’s them on the field or imposters.”

That question has been most applicable to the Longhorn special teams. Texas’ unit has had a horrible season. Junior kicker Nick Rose has missed seven field goals. Senior punter Will Russ has a big leg but has struggled with accuracy and has since been replaced by senior Michael Davidson. The Longhorns have also given up big returns, including a kick return touchdown against Oklahoma.

Despite their struggles, the Longhorns can upset the Horned Frogs if the special teams can step up.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Wins

… If it can contain TCU junior quarterback Trevone Boykin. Boykin is having a phenomenal year, and for the Longhorns to upset TCU, they must stop Boykin. Boykin has thrown for 3,021 yards and 24 touchdowns already this season. Additionally, Boykin has run for 548 yards and seven touchdowns. Boykin’s meteoric rise to prominence has been a huge reason for the Horned Frogs’ success, but if Texas can stop the Dallas native, the Longhorns will win.

… If sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes plays efficiently. The 6-foot-4, 243-pound sophomore has had his fair share of ups and downs this season. When Swoopes is performing at his best, the Longhorns look really good. Inversely, when he’s bad, Texas looks really bad. In Texas’ 28-7 thrashing of Oklahoma State, Swoopes threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns. If Swoopes can duplicate that performance against TCU’s stingy defense, Texas will have no problem downing the Horned Frogs.

… If the special-teams units don’t make mistakes. It sounds simple enough, but the Longhorns’ special teams have been horrific. During its game against Oklahoma State, Texas’ junior kicker, Nick Rose, somehow hit a career-long, 51-yard field goal and then missed a 21-yard chip shot. The Longhorns have also had trouble punting and in coverage. If Texas can be more consistent, it will be in position to win on Thanksgiving.

Texas Loses

… If the Longhorn defense has an uncharacteristically bad night. The trend this season has been for Texas’ defense to keep it in the game. The defense has had a few lapses during the season, but it can’t afford to struggle against the Horned Frogs. TCU has a ton of offensive weapons, and if the Longhorns can’t stop them, it’ll be a long night.

If the running game struggles. During the Longhorns’ three-game winning streak, the running game has been successful. Texas’ running backs — senior Malcolm Brown and junior Johnathan Gray — have rushed for 495 yards and seven touchdowns during the streak. If the running game isn’t present against TCU, the Longhorns will lose.

… If Swoopes can’t find his rhythm. When Swoopes struggles, it’s normally because the opponent is blitzing, and he can’t find an open man fast enough. Swoopes likes to run laterally, but when an opponent contains him, he struggles. If the Horned Frogs prevent the sophomore quarterback from finding his stride, the Longhorns will have no shot.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Junior quarterback Trevone Boykin isn’t your typical student-athlete. 

In 2013, Boykin became the first TCU player ever to tally a 100-yard rushing game, 100-yard receiving game and 200-yard passing game. In 2014, he made the permanent move to quarterback, and he quickly vaulted himself into the Heisman conversation. 

His incredible skill, in combination with the story of his broken, blended family, led Sports Illustrated to take interest in the Dallas native. Its Nov. 17 magazine devoted five pages to Boykin’s role with the Horned Frogs.

“Led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Trevone Boykin and the eighth-ranked passing attack in the nation, TCU hasn’t simply caught up to the Big 12,” said the subhead of Lindsay Schnell’s article. “It’s hoping to make the jump from 4-8 to the final four.”

The teaser underplays the story’s focus on Boykin. He is unquestionably the central character of the story and his team. As reporters write his story, they often start with anecdotes from an earlier time in Boykin’s life, long before he arrived in Fort Worth. 

Much of the coverage of Boykin’s ascent circles back to West Mesquite High School, where Boykin combined for 4,729 yards of total offense and 58 touchdowns. A dual-threat quarterback, Boykin’s production was split between 1,799 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns and 2,930 passing yards and 28 touchdown tosses. That production garnered him attention as Rivals’ No. 24 dual-threat quarterback in the nation and No. 5 in the state of Texas. High school coach Mike Overton described his excitement when he first saw Boykin’s arm.

“We’ve just uncovered a gold mine,” Sports Illustrated quoted Overton telling his coaching staff. 

Throughout his time in college, however, that gold mine has really flourished. As the quarterback’s numbers have continued to improve, TCU head coach Gary Patterson doesn’t appear to be the least bit surprised.

“For two years people have been telling him he can’t play quarterback and we’d never win,” Patterson told The Dallas Morning News. “He’s like anybody else I know with fire in him. They’re going to try to prove people wrong.”

Boykin has proved most of his critics wrong. At season’s start, many questioned whether he’d be able maintain his role as quarterback or return to wide receiver. Ten games and nine wins later, Boykin’s still behind center. 

He also leads the Big 12 in total offense, producing 359.6 yards per game — third-highest average in the country. And should he keep it up, he’ll join Heisman trophy recipients Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel as the only players since 2009 to average more than 300 yards passing and 50 yards rushing each game. He’s also vying for a Heisman — TCU’s first since 1938.

“When crunch time happens, he’s going to make the plays he needs to,” TCU junior receiver Kolby Listenbee told The Dallas Morning News. “We all support him. He’s our leader.”

As their leader, Boykin will aim to steer the Horned Frogs to victory in Austin this weekend. Texas knows it will have its hands full.

“A couple years ago, he was just the guy on the run,” senior defensive end Cedric Reed said. “Now, he’s the full package. He can throw the long ball, the short ball; he can run it. He’s reading the defense well. He’s just become a complete quarterback in a running back’s body.”

QB

Advantage: TCU

TCU junior quarterback Trevone Boykin is the key to the second-best scoring offense in the country. Boykin may be the quickest running quarterback that the Longhorns have faced this season, but his 59.3 completion percentage is unbecoming of a Heisman contender. 

Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes has the talent to revitalize the Texas offense as Boykin has done TCU, but the results have been inconsistent this season. Swoopes’ rushing totals have dropped off recently, and he will have to start using his big arm more intelligently.

RB

Advantage: TCU

TCU feature back B.J. Catalon’s status is still up in the air for Thursday due to a shoulder injury that has held the junior out of his last two contests. His backup, junior Aaron Green, has performed brilliantly in relief and is a threat to score on every carry.

Junior Johnathan Gray has been on a tear in recent weeks despite senior Malcolm Brown getting most of the team’s carries. Gray’s explosiveness and Brown’s hard running style are just now combining to create the dangerous backfield that Texas was lacking in the season’s early going.

WR

Advantage: Texas

Senior Jaxon Shipley got shaken up against Oklahoma State, but the coaching staff says he will be ready Thursday. His uncanny ability to get open will be a great help to a young quarterback playing against the Horned Frog’s confusing 4-2-5 defense.

TCU’s leading receiver, junior Josh Doctson, has been relatively quiet this season, save for a 225-yard game against Oklahoma State, but his 6-foot-4 frame still makes him a threat anywhere on the field, and a strong supporting cast has picked up the slack.

OL

Advantage: TCU

This group was a major question mark for TCU back in August, but the offensive line, led by senior tackle Tayo Fabuluje, has meshed well over the course of the season. Run blocking is always solid, but pass protection has been a problem at times for the Horned Frogs.

The unit that was once a deadweight dragging down the Texas offense has stepped up in recent weeks. Sophomore right tackle Camrhon Hughes has worked his way back from some rough performances and is now an important cog on a unit that has started five straight games together.

DL

Advantage: Texas

The defensive line has looked like one of the best units in the country in the last few contests. The Hassan Ridgeway-Malcom Brown combo has clogged the middle all season and most recently helped hold Oklahoma State to just 34 yards on the ground. 

Three of the four starters on TCU’s defensive line were high school teammates, and their excellent chemistry has helped hold opponents to just 3.1 yards per rush. Chucky Hunter, a hefty senior defensive tackle, has made life miserable between the tackles for opposing running backs.

LB

Advantage: Texas

Senior Jordan Hicks has turned around a defense that was embarrassingly bad at times last season. His linebacking colleagues, senior Steve Edmond and junior Peter Jinkens, have played well enough this season to indicate they can help neutralize Boykin’s run threat.

Linebacker Paul Dawson is a game changer against the run and the pass. The senior has snagged three interceptions, made 15 tackles for a loss and recorded five sacks in 2014. He could add to those totals against Texas’ inexperienced linemen and quarterback.

DB

Advantage: TCU

Senior cornerback Kevin White has been locking down receivers all season. The secondary will give up significant yardage, but a crew of ball-hawking safeties, including junior Chris Hackett, who has six interceptions on the season, makes up for it with big plays.

Quandre Diggs’ move from nickelback to corner has done wonders for the pass defense. He may be needed in run support against an explosive TCU ground game, leaving inconsistent safeties Dylan Haines and Mykkele Thompson to neutralize the air attack. 

ST

Advantage: TCU

B.J. Catalon’s injury could leave the Horned Frogs without a returner who is averaging 31.8 yards per attempt. Sophomore punt returner Cameron Echols-Luper has a return touchdown on the season, and junior kicker Jaden Oberkrom has been solid all year.

The Longhorn special teams have played well enough this season to show they can neutralize Echols-Luper and the Horned Frogs’ explosive return game. Good kick coverage will mean little if senior punter Michael Davidson continues to perform inconsistently.

TCU’s Boykin named O’Brien Award semifinalist

TCU has seemingly come out of nowhere to shock everyone by being the highest ranked team in the Big 12 so far this season, and a big reason for its success has been the play of redshirt junior quarterback Trevone Boykin. Tuesday, Boykin was named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, which recognizes the top quarterback in the country. This season, Boykin has thrown for 2,472 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions — all career highs. His 361.9 total yards per game lead the conference and place him fourth in the nation. He’s also led the Horned Frogs to scoring drives on 51.4 percent of their possessions.

OU’s Shepard questionable for Baylor game

Oklahoma heads into its showdown against Baylor riding high after a win over Iowa State, but it could be without one of its better receivers this weekend. On the Sooners’ first offensive play, junior receiver Sterling Shepard went down with a groin injury and had to be carted off the field. Shepard returned to the field in uniform but did not play the rest of the game. After the contest, head coach Bob Stoops wasn’t sure if he would be able to go against Baylor. Shepard leads the Sooners with 50 receptions for 957 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Petty tapped as Maxwell Award semifinalist

Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty has had a down year by his, and Baylor’s, standards, but it hasn’t stopped him from being in contention for some postseason recognition. On Monday, Petty was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, which is given to the collegiate player of the year. This season, Petty has thrown for 2,034 yards, 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions, but he is still on pace to finish below his numbers from 2013, when he threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns. Maxwell Award finalists will be named on Nov. 24.

Knight headlines Big 12 Awards

After an incredible Sugar Bowl in January, Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight has been a bit of a disappointment this season. But Saturday, Knight accounted for a total of six touchdowns in a 59-14 win and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. Knight finished the win against Iowa State with 230 passing yards and three touchdowns and added another three scores on the ground, becoming only the second quarterback to throw and run for three touchdowns in a game.

Last week’s Big 12 game of the week featured two top-20 teams and a showdown of “Kevin Whites.” TCU’s Kevin White, senior cornerback, won that battle with seven total tackles, two of which were for losses, and a pass break up in the Horned Frogs’ 31-30 win and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. White held West Virginia’s Kevin White, senior wide receiver, to only three receptions and 28 yards in the game.

While White might have taken the headlines for his defensive effort, it was TCU junior kicker Jaden Oberkrom who won the game for the Horned Frogs with a 37-yard field goal as time expired and was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for the second straight week. The kick was the 50th of his career, ranking him fourth in program history.

Texas wins if…

it does exactly what it did to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl two weeks ago. In fact, if the Longhorns do that every week, they’ll have a serious chance at running the table. TCU will probably present the most formidable defense the Longhorns will face this season, but the loss of stud defensive end Devonte Fields to a season-ending foot surgery will make it a little easier. The offensive game plan thrown at the Sooners in Dallas would certainly do the trick, but running the football down the Horned Frogs’ throats will be more difficult than it was against a beleaguered Oklahoma defensive line. Short passes to get Mike Davis, Kendall Sanders and Daje Johnson involved, along with a few well-timed deep shots should keep the TCU defense on its heels enough for the Longhorns to establish a running game. If the Longhorns can get that rolling, they’ll be in good shape Saturday. Greg Robinson’s defense is facing TCU’s 109th-ranked offense, which has sputtered ever since starting quarterback Casey Pachall broke his arm the second week of the season. Trevone Boykin, who took over for Pachall when he de-enrolled midseason last year, and running
 backs B.J. Catalon and Waymon James will lead the charge offensive charge on the ground for the Frogs. Keep Boykin in the pocket, stack the box, tackle well and shut down the one-dimensional TCU offense and the Longhorns should head back to Austin with a four-game win streak.

Texas loses if…

it reverts to pre-Oklahoma form. The Longhorns played a physical brand of football in Dallas for the first time in 2013, and the Longhorns will have to take that same game back to the Metroplex this week if they want to continue this little win streak they have suddenly found themselves on. On Thanksgiving night a year ago, TCU came to Austin and punched the Longhorns in the mouth for four quarters, eventually pulling out a sloppy 20-13 victory. If the Longhorns get out-muscled again and allow TCU to ground and pound them to death, they’ll find themselves on the short side of the scoreboard yet again. Boykin is completing 58 percent of his passes while throwing seven interceptions and five touchdown passes. The Horned Frogs are going to try to bully the Longhorns on the ground again. They have their own quarterback issues, but the Longhorns will lose if they don’t match the physicality in the trenches. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

RB B.J. Catalon (So.)

The sophomore running back is the leading rusher for an offense that averages 139.1 rushing yards per game, putting them at No. 94 in the nation. Although quarterback Trevone Boykin has amassed the most carries for TCU, B.J. Catalon has racked up 359 rushing yards to go along with a team-high five touchdowns. Catalon is a speedy back who opens the passing game for Boykin with his ability to pick up yards on the outside. Catalon is also a valuable kick returner for the Horned Frogs, compiling 404 yards on 15 returns this season, including a touchdown. While Texas will have to keep an eye on Catalon on special teams, his 5.2 yards per carry average is the number the Longhorns should focus on the most leading into this game.

 

DB Chris Hackett (So.)

The TCU defense has outplayed its offense this season, by far, giving up only 21.7 points per game, good enough for No. 31 in the nation. The Horned Frogs’ ability to create turnovers is a big reason for this defensive play and Chris Hackett has played a big role in that. Hackett is a second-year safety who leads the team in tackles with 47 and is tied for the lead in interceptions with three. The tall safety has also tallied two sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. Whatever the defense needs on any given play, Hackett has proven the ability to deliver it. He is a big safety who is not afraid to get physical and has the speed to cover receivers when coverage breaks down. Case McCoy should beware of Hackett when dropping back in the pocket.

 

QB Trevone Boykin (So.)

His numbers may not appear very impressive at first glance, but it should be noted that Trevone Boykin has been taken over for injured starter Casey Pachall for five weeks now and has done a decent job. The Horned Frogs are 2-3 with Boykin under center this season, with two of those losses coming to Top 25 teams in conference play. Boykin has passed for 1,152 yards and five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is second on the team with 293 rushing yards, revealing his ability to run the football when needed. Texas often has problems with mobile quarterbacks, which was especially evident against BYU, so the Longhorns will need to do a good job of keeping Boykin in the pocket. His numbers won’t blow you away but he will touch the ball more than any TCU player in this game and his athleticism gives him a chance to hurt the Longhorns if they aren’t careful.

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin (2) is hit by Kansas State defensive end Adam Davis (55) and linebacker Arthur Brown (4) during the first half of a game Nov. 10 in Fort Worth.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

When TCU quarterback Casey Pachall was suspended indefinitely for a DWI arrest, the Horned Frogs turned to the only other player who had lined up under center this season on the roster, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin.

Before assuming the starting duties, Boykin had played as a backup throwing for 74 yards and a touchdown through three games while racking up 122 yards on the ground. At this point in the season, after six games as the starting quarterback, Boykin has 1,540 yards in the air with 14 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a 58.3 completion percentage. In addition, he has two touchdowns on the ground while rushing for 267 yards, the third leading rusher for TCU.

Considering the circumstances, Boykin’s 2-4 record doesn’t accurately show the progress he has made leading the Horned Frogs and the strides he has made towards solidifying his position as their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

“[Trevone] is a natural leader,” offensive lineman Blaize Foltz said last week. “It showed when he came back into the game after getting banged up. We definitely have a better chance to win when he is in the game for us.”

Against Baylor on Oct. 13, Boykin had a career day during a 49-21 blowout victory. He threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes. On the ground, Boykin also had 56 yards and one touchdown. He didn’t commit a turnover.

A pair of losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which included a injury against the Cowboys, didn’t derail Boykin. Against West Virginia, he orchestrated a come-from-behind 39-38 victory for the Horned Frogs which included two overtimes. Boykin had 254 yards in the air and two touchdowns with 28 yards on the ground.

Although he is a powerful passing quarterback, Boykin can scramble when he needs to. Faced with a fourth-and-five situation against West Virginia, Boykin ran for 11 yards for the first down and then scampered for eight yards to set up good field goal position to tie the game. Later on in the game, Boykin threw a 95-yard touchdown to tie the game again and force overtime.

Even though Pachall is allowed to return in 2013 for another chance to play, Boykin may have solidified himself as next year’s go-to guy. Boykin prevented what could have been a disastrous season and guaranteed TCU a spot in the postseason.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Josh Boyce: The Texas defense has made great strides the last few weeks in coverage and in its ability to tackle. When the Longhorns face off against TCU, this progress will need to be continued as they will face another small and quick receiver in Josh Boyce. The junior wideout has had an impressive year thus far, racking up 756 yards on 56 receptions. His seven touchdowns lead the team, and his 13.5 yards per reception make him a player to watch. At 6-foot, 203 pounds, Boyce is similar to other players that have given the Longhorns problems all season long. His quickness allows him to get away from defenders and pick up necessary yards after the catch even in good coverage. His talents were showcased beautifully against West Virginia when he caught six passes for 180 yards with two touchdowns. For those people doing the math, that amounts to thirty yards per reception, which evidences Boyce’s ability to run with the football in his hands. The Longhorns should look to press Boyce early and keep him from finding lanes to run through when he catches the football.

Trevone Boykin: Boykin is a player who was forced into early action this season with the indefinite suspension of starting quarterback Casey Pachall. The freshman has had his up-and-downs, but has showcased the ability to perform under pressure. In the nine games he has appeared in this season, Boykin has passed for 1,540 yards with fourteen touchdowns. His eight interceptions show that he can make mistakes when pressured, but the same can be said for most freshman starters. Boykin’s most impressive performance came against a tough Texas Tech team. Despite a triple overtime loss, his 332 yards passing and four touchdowns in the contest showed that he could match the firepower of the prolific Tech offense. He has showcased a bit of ability with his legs also, rushing for two touchdowns while acquiring a 4.6 yards per carry average when he does run. The Longhorns should look to force Boykin to remain in the pocket and make throws against the toughest defense he’s seen so far in his career. He has proven he can play under pressure, but his detriments and inexperience have also shown themselves and Texas should look to exploit this while trying to contain him.

Devonte Fields: The Texas offensive line must pay attention to Devonte Fields. The freshman defensive end has had a productive season, picking up eight sacks and 43 tackles. His 15.5 tackles for loss lead the Horned Frog defense as Fields’ relentless pressure clogs up a lot of running lanes for opponents to get through. His speed at 240 pounds is a deadly weapon and will force the offensive line of Texas to be on top of their game in this matchup. If Texas wants to keep Ash, and the running backs, off their backs they will need to contain the established freshman and keep him from racking up even more sacks. Fields’ name will definitely be called more than once on Thanksgiving Day.