By Andrew Glover
CNHI News Service
STILLWATER – The Oklahoma State University defense finds itself in a similar position to last week’s game – facing a team that recently changed quarterbacks. With Casey Pachall leaving Texas Christian University earlier this month, the Cowboys will prepare for a Trevone Boykins-led offense.
“He’s a really good quarterback,” junior linebacker Caleb Lavey said. “He’s fast. He airs the ball out. I’m sure coaches have come up with a game plan.”
Pachall left TCU on Oct. 9 and entered a treatment facility after he was suspended indefinitely on Oct. 4 following a DWI arrest. Boykins has started the last three games for the Horned Frogs, who are 1-2 in his starts. Last week against Texas Tech, Boykins threw for a season-high of 332 yards and tied his season high of touchdown passes with four. Defensive coordinator Bill Young said Boykins is similar to Iowa State’s and Kansas’ quarterback except he can throw.
“He throws the ball quite a bit better,” Young said.
Boykins at times during his starts has shown he can run the ball some, as he was the leading rusher in TCU’s Oct. 13 victory at Baylor with 56 yards. Lavey said they will have to contain him.
“We will try to pressure him but we also got to contain him at the same time,” Lavey said. “Especially with a fast quarterback like that, that can get out of the pocket and throw the ball up.”
Junior safety Daytawion Lowe said they are preparing for Boykins like they would any other week.
“He stepped in and is making some good plays,” Lowe said. “He’s a great athlete and can help them win a game. We are going to approach it like he’s a senior. We are going to play football.”
Saturday against Iowa State the secondary grabbed its first interception since the season opener against Savannah State and deflected three passes. Lowe said the secondary is looking to build off of Saturday’s performance.
“Coach (Jason) Jones, coach (Van) Malone, coach (Mike) Gundy and the whole defensive staff have said when the ball goes up in the air, it’s our ball,” Lowe said. “I think that’s what we’ve improved the most – playing the ball in the air and making plays.”
Venturing into the unknown is something that’s very familiar to the OSU defense. The Cowboys opened the season with their first meeting against Savannah State. In Week 2, the Pokes faced Arizona for the first time under new coach Rich Rodriguez. On Oct. 13 they faced a Charlie Weis-led Jayhawk team for the first time.
Helping TCU’s freshman quarterback is a group of speedy receivers. Brandon Carter leads the team in yards with 446. Josh Boyce leads the team in receptions with 37 for 433 yards. Skye Dawson has caught 24 passes for 353 yards including 10 receptions for 154 yards in last week’s triple overtime loss to Tech. Junior linebacker Shaun Lewis said getting pressure on Boykins will be key.
“It all starts up front with the pass rush and helping corners and safeties stay with receivers,” Lewis said. “It’s a group effort. If we can get pressure on the quarterback, he won’t have time to set his feet and throw to those speedy receivers.”
The Horned Frogs possess a balanced offensive attack as they’ve rushed 298 times and passed 225. Young said they will have to be ready for both.
“They’ll throw the ball over the place, but they also run it awfully well,” Young said. “They do a great job of running the zone read and they have some blocking schemes that give us a lot of difficulty, in addition to throw the ball well. The thing that concerns us about the passing game is their speedy receivers.”
Lewis said it will be key for OSU to stop the run.
“They key in defending any offense is stopping the run and making them a one-dimensional offense. That’s going to be the main thing. Whatever running game they do have we want to do a good job of stopping it.”