Friday, October 5, 2012

Daily Discussion Question: Should Pachall Be Allowed to Suit Up?

Guess we haven't seen the last of this after all.

This came to my attention after the preview was up, but I think it's worthy of its own post.  Under the excuse that he's, "not going to let him hide from this," Gary Patterson has made the QUESTIONABLE decision to allow CP to suit up and stand on the sidelines with TCU tomorrow and then decide what to do with him going forward on Sunday.  This comes on the heels of a few choice quotes from GMFP along the lines of him not being sure exactly how long the suspension will be, and that it could just be this weekend.

Personally, I do not like the move and was at least semi-stunned that CP wasn't kicked off the team altogether.  I'm not sure that would've been the right move, but I kind of assumed at least a suspension for the rest of the season would occur so that he could get his life back in order.  I understand the flip side of the coin, that GP believes if he keeps Casey in the fold he can show him how much the team cares for him and needs him and inspire him that way, but if GP lets him come back and play this season without getting his head straight, what was it all for?  Patterson clearly couldn't care less what the Mac Engel's and Randy Galloway's think about it, but they have a point that this raises some credibility issues about star-player treatment.  Maybe his genius extends to the realm of substance abuse counciling, but I'm in the camp that believe Pachall should distance himself from the program for a while for his own good.  I've rarely doubted one of GP's decisions, but in this case I think the correct move doesn't involve CP being at Amon G on Saturday.

What does everyone else think?  Am I being a curmudgeon?

Iowa State Preview.

Like many of you, that was my initial reaction to yesterday's news and in a sense, it still is.  As a TCU fan, you'd have to lack a pulse not to be a little bit angry about the latest saga in the Shakespearean tragedy that has become the TCU Football program.  20 players lost since the conclusion of the 2011 season.  TWENTY.  TWO ZERO.  Not the best way to enter Big 12 play year one, and Pachall's latest gaffe is just the icing on the cake.  I'm not so sure I was angry about last night's incident on its own accord because, be honest, in college we all made the mistake of getting behind the wheel after having had a few too many drinks, and sadly it's probably happened even since then.  Passing the buck, I'd place part of the blame on that of Fort Worth's DISMAL cab system, but we all know it's mostly because when you're 18, 19, 20, etc and in college, you're invincible. You do not give one shit about authority.  And we weren't NFL caliber QB's, either.  A lot of us got away with it, but there are terrible, terrible consequences for that sort of behavior and, truth be told, Casey is fortunate that all he wound up with was a no expenses paid trip to Mansfield and indefinite suspension.  No, I'm not mad that Casey specifically made a bad decision on Wednesday evening.  I'm mad that he made that decision despite being the most scrutinized person in Tarrant County.

Think back to the drug bust when the initial rumor was that Pachall was arrested for being a drug kingpin.  It's never fair to compare the two, but had it been Andy Dalton, he could've been living in the apartment from Trainspotting and we all would've given a collective, "bullshit," and denied his involvement, even if he had directly sold us drugs.  When Pachall's name surfaced, though?  "Eh, that's about right."  Say what you will about Pachall's involvement in the drug bust.  Me personally?  I don't think he was actually selling drugs, but you're an idiot to think he didn't know that his roommate was doing the same, and that's on him for putting himself in that situation.  But we got through that - the police arrested four players and that was that.

However, despite telling ourselves that with Brock gone maybe Casey would settle down and focus more on football, who among us wasn't a LITTLE concerned?  We were all waiting for the other shoe to fall to some degree.

Sure enough, just about the time the drug bust was dying down came the Skiff's sleuthing of Pachall's drug use admission to police and failed drug test.  That was just... well, that was just a kick in the buts for a variety of reasons, wasn't it?  We tried to spin it as, "Well, at least he didn't lie to the cops," and frame it as a good leadership quality, but it doesn't excuse the fact that our QB was doing X as recently as this past offseason.  Still, we weathered that storm as well, with Patterson making the morally unpopular decision to follow his protocol and give Casey another chance with no suspension, presumably with the undestand that his life was going to consist of school, football and sleep, with nothing in between.  And I didn't even mention the infamous underoos incident with Tanner Brock.

Despite all of that, though, Casey STILL went out and got arrested for drinking and driving on Wednesday night, and there's not much we can say.  WHY!?  Just... WHY?  Why on earth would he put himself in that position?  Removing the fan aspect of the equation, think of all Casey has to lose.   With a proper offensive line, he is absolutely capable of leading TCU to a Big 12 title and beyond.  He is absolutely capable of playing in the NFL.  Now, both of those opportunities might be gone.  Does that even bother him?  Again, think about Dalton.  Based on initial talent, Andy had no shot at doing the things he has done, but he worked his ass off, fitting in extra film study and staying late to work on routes with his receivers and hit the weights.  Because of that Andy went from being a skinny red-headed QB with few D-1 offers to a playoff and Pro Bowl QB in his rookie season.  Then there's Casey.  Casey who admitted he skipped film study in the past.  Casey who has has reportedly been late for practice.  Casey who knows he has the ability, and chooses to get by on that ability alone.  And now, Casey who has perhaps thrown it all away for a few drinks on a Wednesday night, and that just baffles me to no end.

But while struggling to grasp exactly what is going on in that mohawked dome of his, I came across this fantastic take on the situation by Dave Campbell's Travis Stewart, and I softened my stance a little bit.

Let's face it - Casey is different than us.  He looks different.  He comes from a different socio-economic background.  He can complete a 15 yard out route.  Fortunately, though, the area where most of us differ from Casey is that it's entirely possible he has a substance abuse problem and we do not, and that is why we can't sit in judgment.  Stewart is right - if we care about the person more than what they do for us, getting away from football is the only answer.  Clearly there is something going on beyond what Gary Patterson and his staff can provide assistance for.  You can argue that they maybe didn't do enough considering all of the warning signs, but I genuinely believe they did as much as they were able, and it just wasn't enough.  

We're all upset at the situation, but we need to put it in perspective because a person's life might be at stake here.  With all of the issues Casey has had, he doesn't need football, he needs help.  I've never been a Division 1 athlete, but I can safely assume that being a Big 12 Quarterback is all-consuming and stressful, and if you have demons it will amplify them.  I'm not diagnosing CP with anything, but I think anyone would agree that he needs to at least slow his roll a bit and get his life back on track.  Hopefully getting away from football will let Casey clear his head a little bit.

As for Saturday's game, it SHOULD be kind of secondary at this point, but we all know that's not the case.  Clearly we all need to adjust our expectations a little bit going forward, but I'm not so sure they should be calibrated TOO much.  For one, Casey Pachall didn't play defense, and defense is pretty much what has won every game for us outside of Grambling.  For another, TCU still has one of the best coaches and coaching staff's in all of college football and based on how they've been continuously righting the ship since February, I'd expect nothing less here.  But, most importantly, Trevone Boykin might actually be JUST what this offense needs because, let's face it, they haven't exactly been lighting up the scoreboard.  Don't get me wrong - Pachall was about the only thing on offense that worked, and Boykin may never match his abilities as a passer.  But, Pachall, despite the word coming out of high school, was a tree in the pocket, which worked with last year's strong offensive line, but was clearly becoming problematic to his performance and safety this season.  With Boykin, an offensive line that often appears to not understand that they are supposed to block on EVERY play, this will be less of an issue because if his protection breaks down, he's capable of grabbing the 5-10 yards that Pachall could not.  With Matthew Tucker questionable, having a QB who can actually get outside the tackles and break open some space can only be seen as an advantage.  Plus, you'll recall he can fling the ball around a little as well.

Bill Simmons has something he calls, "The Ewing Theory" which is basically a situation where a team loses a star player and actually improves because of it.  This doesn't SCREAM Ewing Theory potential, but I think there have to be some possibilities here.  There will be growing pains with Boykin.  He will throw some picks or overshoot receivers in situations where Pachall maybe would not have because being 6'5" with a cannon arm allows for a lot more leeway in seeing the field and not getting balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage.  But for everyone predicting a doomsday, 4-8 scenario, that's a little off base.  We're going to lose a few games going forward;  unless the offensive line clicked, we were looking hard at 8-4 at best.  Even if the defense comes back to earth a bit from only allowing 7 points per game - and they will -  do you not think a Boykin led offense is good for 3-4 scores?  Much like not playing defense, Casey Pachall didn't play WR, either.  Isn't it entirely possible that, after poor performance the first month of the season and Wednesday, the offense rallies around fresh blood like Boykin and steps up their games?  It's not a given, but it's not impossible.  Trevone Boykin isn't going to lead TCU to MORE wins than Pachall would, but I'm not so sure we should automatically assume the Frogs fall flat on their faces.  Against one of the better defense in the Big 12, we're going to find out a LOT about our team tomorrow and what to expect going forward.  I, for one, an cautiously optimistic.

We may never see Casey Pachall suit up in purple again, but I'm not sure I care because as long as someone actually SEES him again, that should be all that matters. As for, "he's tarnishing the TCU brand! Let's kick him out of school!" that's just some fickle old man bullshit.  Life is more than TCU Football.  Life goes on.  Let the Trevone Boykin era begin.

The Pick:  TCU 21, ISU 10.

Morning Dump: 10/05

Prediction Post - TCU vs Iowa State

Well, this isn't as much fun to write as it normally is, and forgive me if I don't predict TCU putting a whooping on our first home Big 12 opponent. If we are being honest with ourselves as Frog Fans, the truth of the matter is it's just hard to say what tomorrow will bring. Our defense will still be the same guys, for the most part, that have been out there kicking ass and taking names all year. Our wide receivers are still the incredible playmakers that have been dominating the highlight shows and scoring long TD's on impossible catches since the get go. Our running backs are still... well, what's left of them, actually... you know what, never mind about our running backs. And our Coach, oh our Coach, is still GMFP.

Pachall's loss is a big one, but I don't know exactly how big yet. He was playing like an All American, he was the best QB in the state, and at worst the second best in the conference. Though his ball security wasn't great, he had thrown only one INT all season and was running the offense better than last year, when TCU was able to keep possession of the ball at least. But in comes Trevone Boykin, he of the cannon for an arm and the wheels for feet. A young kid, who is impossibly talented, but who hasn't had the snaps to guarantee success on the big stage of the Big 12. Add in the media scrutiny, the National TV audience, and the vitriol of both Iowa State fans that will be in attendance, and it's a potentially a perfect storm of "oh s*@t".

In Boykin We Trust.
So, what can we expect to see tomorrow from our boys in the chrome purple helmets (which are awesome, by the way)? Normally, when the backup QB is thrust into a starting role suddenly and last minute, a coach will turn to his running game and rely on his backs to carry the load. Well, that hasn't exactly been a TCU strength this year, and compounded with the fact that the new starting QB was prepping to be the new backup running back, I don't think Coach P is going to look for much help out of the backfield. So, do you turn the young guy loose and let him sling it all over the field to the trio of impossible to defend receivers? I expect something in between - a heavy does of option reads, bootlegs, and sprint outs, along with some jet sweeps, screens, and play action. I don't think the Frogs have any choice but to go to the air, but Boykin's legs are a legit weapon as well, so he will probably have a run/pass option on the majority of his drop backs.

I think Boykin throws for 175+ and runs for another 100+. Like Pachall, his favorite target is Brandon Carter, but Boyce makes a big play and scores the game winning TD. Tucker gets it going just a little bit, with 60 yards rushing and three receptions for another 40 yards. Young QB's love their tight ends, and this is the game that Gilbert finally breaks out and scores his first TD.

I am hoping to see Deante Gray back returning punts - his instant offense can be a difference maker, and the field position battle becomes even bigger in light of recent events. Special teams will play a critical role this week - I believe the gaffs of the SMU monsoon are behind him, and Ethan Perry has a big game and swings the field multiple times.

The defense will be asked to step up even more than they already have, and will do so in a big way. Devonte Fields continues his unbelievable play on the edge - as the name Steele Jantz is enough to fire him up to the tune of 1.5 sacks. Jantz gets it from both ends though, as Stansley brings him down once as well. I can't forsee another 5 pick game, but Verrett comes down with a big INT late in the fourth, and the secondary does a solid enough job to get the win.

Final score: TCU 24, Iowa State 20. Let's see your predictions in the comments - How many times with Patterson let Boykin air it out? Will the running game collect more than 150 yards combined? For those watching at home, what's the over/under on how many times the words "Pachall" and "Drugs" are used in the same sentence on the broadcast (I am thinking at least 20)? How dumb is the name Steele Jantz and how super douchey is that brah? And of course final score.

Go Frogs!