Five questions: TCU

Need more info on TCU? Let Jeremy Clark fill you in.

Oklahoma takes to the road again to TCU this weekend. Sooners Illustrated has asked managing editor Jeremy Clark for the lowdown on the Frogs.

OU fans remember stifling TCU for a half, allowing zero first downs. Trevone Boykin was the quarterback then, what has changed about his game now?

I think a few things have changed; number one, he's gotten older so the game has slowed down for him a bit. Number two, I think the addition of Sonny Cumbie as quarterbacks coach has helped his development extremely. The first two seasons Boykin showed flashes of being a good quarterback, but more often he looked more like an athlete trying to play quarterback. Now, he has the look of a quarterback that's an athlete. This season he's done a better job of reading all of his progressions; in year's past he would make one read and if it wasn't available, he'd take off and run. Now, he's staying more patient in the pocket. Even with an offense that is designed to get rid of the ball quickly, he's showed much better poise in the pocket and lets plays develop. He's also not forcing passes this year which is different from his previous two seasons under center. He's thrown eight touchdowns and just one interception this year. He's still a very good scrambler and maybe even better than last year because he lost 20 pounds in the off-season. He really dedicated himself in the off-season to become a better quarterback; the weight loss, throwing to receivers and watching more film; and through three games it looks like the dedication is paying off.

Has the loss of Devonte Fields really been felt at all? Who has stepped up, and how is the defense different with Fields not with the Frogs?

To be honest, the loss of Fields hasn't hurt at all. The Frogs didn't really have him last season either as he only played in what amounted to one full game. In fact, many were surprised that he was named the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year based on him just playing one game. So far this season the defensive line has been a huge strength on defense. Last week against SMU, the defensive line accounted for 7 of the 9 sacks the Frogs registered. James McFarland recorded 3 of those sacks and forced two fumbles. TCU coach Gary Patterson says he doesn't have just two starters at defensive end, he has four. In addition to McFarland, Mike Tuaua, Terrell Lathan and Josh Carraway have all lined up at end this season for the Frogs with all getting equal playing time. Lathan actually led the team last season with 6 sacks. They've done a tremendous job up front in getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and have been very strong against the run.

Four guys with at least 11 catches, but is there a primary target? When Boykin needs a play, whose number is he calling?

We asked him this question last week after the SMU game and he really couldn't give us just one guy he relies on. With the improved offense this season, the one group I've been impressed with is the receiving corp. They had some drops last week against SMU, but through three games it's been a different receiver stepping up. Against Samford, it was Kolby Listenbee and David Porter. Against Minnesota, it was Josh Doctson. Last week, it was Deante' Gray. So, to answer your question the best I can, I truly don't think Boykin has a favorite target; he just throws to whoever is the best option at the time.

It’s rare to have two bye weeks this early in the season. Has that affected the team in any way through the first month of the season?

If you look at the scores it doesn't appear to be, however, with a new offense you have to develop a rhythm and that's something I don't think we've completely seen from the Frogs' offense. Defensively, they are fine. But with offense when you're developing a new scheme it takes repetition against different opponents and obviously playing just three games in nine weeks (including the start of fall camp), it will have an effect on a rhythm. This affected the Frogs' last week against SMU as they had a couple of wasted scoring opportunities. It was the same against Minnesota a few weeks ago. I know the players and coaches are excited about getting to play seven straight weeks without a bye. Although the bye weeks may have affected offensive production, where it helped is it player health. The Frogs have gone through the season unscathed and are the healthiest I've seen them in the sixth week of any season.

Sounds like a dumb question here, but why do you think TCU has traditionally played so well against the Sooners? It’s always a grind for OU against Patterson’s bunch.

I think it comes down to both coaches being so similar in team philosophy; both Patterson and Stoops are defensive minded coaches who push their players to the limits. Both pride themselves on strong defenses but both have the "win by one point" mentality and both have a lot of respect for each other. I also think the TCU players get excited to play a traditional power like Oklahoma so they try to go out and give it their all every time and Patterson and Co. do a good job of preparing them. I don't think they do anything different preparation wise; it's just Oklahoma and who wouldn't be excited about playing the Sooners?

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories