MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - For the fifth time in six Big 12 games this season, West Virginia will face a team this weekend that could go in a couple of different directions with its quarterback play.In other words, it's nothing new for the Mountaineers.Shoot, it's nothing new for anyone. Of the league's 10 teams, nine - including WVU - have played multiple quarterbacks, be it for reasons of injury or ineffectiveness or both. Only Baylor's Bryce Petty has played every meaningful snap for his team.But preparing for TCU's Casey Pachall and 7 could be a little easier for West Virginia than it has been in previous weeks, coach Dana Holgorsen said. At least the Horned Frogs' offense looks basically the same regardless of which quarterback plays.That wasn't necessarily the case with, for example, Trevor Knight and Blake Bell at Oklahoma, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf at Oklahoma State or Jake Waters and Daniel Sams at Kansas State."With Kansas State, their offensive approach was a little different based on which quarterback was in. That's not necessarily the case here with TCU,'' Holgorsen said. "Whichever quarterback is in there, they typically do the same things, which will make it easier for us to prepare."With that said, it's still about making plays. We need to continue to make plays and put our guys into critical situations to make plays.''
It's been two seasons now that TCU has been forced to juggle Pachall and Boykin.Pachall's career has been checkered, to say the least. After serving as Andy Dalton's backup in 2010, he threw for almost 3,000 yards, 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 2011. Through four games in 2012, he had 10 touchdowns and just one pick.But when he was arrested for drunken driving after those first four games last season - he had also reportedly failed a drug test during the offseason - Pachall was suspended and left school. He returned in time to play this season and was the preseason pick as the All-Big 12 quarterback. He went into the year as the active FBS leader in passing efficiency.
But while Pachall was out, Boykin stepped in and did some good things, not the least of which was throwing a 94-yard touchdown pass at the end of regulation to tie West Virginia last year in Morgantown, leading to an overtime win. When Pachall returned this season, he and Boykin split time the first two games, sometimes with both on the field together.Pachall, though, broke his non-throwing left arm the second game of the season and missed the next five games. He returned last week, relieving Boykin early in what would become a 30-7 loss to Texas, but completed just 13 of 34 passes for 139 yards.What, then, to make of TCU's quarterback situation this week? Well, TCU coach Gary Patterson is notoriously tight-lipped about such matters, so who knows? He does, however, seem to think that Pachall picked right up where he left off physically and likes what the 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior brings to the table as far as leadership is concerned - odd as that might sound given Pachall's transgressions."I didn't think there was that much rust. The key is being on the same page,'' Patterson said. "One of the things we get out of him, which is very obvious even in practice, is the leadership part. After having to sit out, I think he took a whole different perspective. He looked at the game like a coach does compared to like a player, which is a big difference."That's where you really need to get to if you want to own the system. But we still have to do a lot better. In this league, scoring seven points isn't going to win you very many ballgames.''
That's all the points TCU got against Texas in Pachall's return. Not that the Horned Frogs have scored much with anyone at quarterback. They are averaging but 14.2 points in five Big 12 games.For his part, Holgorsen doesn't see much of a difference in the two, at least as far as how the TCU offense runs or even in experience. After all, while Pachall is seen as the veteran, he's played in just three games in the last 12 months and started just 19 in his career. Boykin, because of Pachall's frequent absences, has started 16 games, all within the last 12 months."I don't really know how much more of a veteran [Pachall] is,'' Holgorsen said. "Boykin played the whole game against us last year. He's played more in the past year and a half than Pachall has. Over a four-year span, Pachall has probably taken more snaps, but they're both experienced guys who have taken plenty of reps. They're both capable of going in there and executing the offense.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.