When sophomore quarterback Trevone Boykin entered the game against the LSU Tigers in Week 1, TCU fans had a reason to be skeptical.
In 2012, Boykin stepped in for Casey Pachall as a freshman, and despite low completion percentages against the better teams in the Big 12, was able to help keep the Horned Frogs from spiraling down into the abyss after a ton of off-the-field turmoil.
Boykin was able to lead the Frogs on a 10-play, 77-yard drive that pulled his team within seven, but in the end the Tigers' defense was simply too much for the Boykin led offense to handle. The sophomore won't have to go up against a defense as talented as LSU's, but he will need to not only show some signs of improvement from last season, but mature much faster than he may had anticipated.
This TCU offense is struggling mightily ranking 123rd nationally in yards per game, 81st in scoring offense and 87th in third-down conversions. Penalties have also been huge issue in the young season. The Horned Frogs racked up 13 in the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders alone to go with a season total of 27.
Boykin is averaging just 6.1 yards per pass attempt. It hasn’t been his fault completely. The receiving group has missed Josh Boyce, and it has been a constant struggle to get any separation. Boykin has the ability to run the ball if pass plays break down, but the offense has been one-dimensional. The offensive unit is almost dead last in the conference in pass yards a game (190.7), and hasn’t been much of a threat on the ground either.
In 2012, Boykin could at least rely on the 16th ranked defense in the nation (1st in the Big 12) to ease the transition. The defense hasn’t been horrible this season. They are giving up over five yards a play, but turnovers are being created. That’s where the offense has to step up. During the game against Texas Tech, TCU couldn’t produce any points off three interceptions.
This offense has also lacked in the big play department. They currently sit near bottom of the Big 12 in plays of 10+, 20+ and 30+ yards.
Boykin’s biggest problem, which is coincidentally what he needs to improve on immediately, is his pocket presence. Too often he only looks for his first receiver, and if nothing is there he takes off. He must have more patience, especially when the offensive line is giving adequate time.
The bottom line is the Horned Frogs need to exercise a run first approach to create play action opportunities for Boykin early in games to build his confidence. Without Boykin performing at the level needed for a QB in the Big 12 to match the fire power, this offense will not be able to get involved in any shootouts.
If you look at what the standard thus far within the conference for passing offense is you will see how much of gap there is separating the Frogs from their competition. The Oklahoma Sooners currently sit ahead of TCU is passing offense with 28 more yards a game. The Sooners were having similar struggles in the air until Blake Bell had a monster game last week.
The Kansas State Wildcats sit in front of OU with 47 more passing yards a game than the Frogs. This is big problem that needs to change fast for TCU to compete in 2013. What’s worse for Horned Frog fans is there are six teams ahead of KSU with more effective air games.
TCU must mature on offense fast, or they may be in for a long year.