FORT WORTH – If Casey Pachall stands as tall and confidently in the pocket as he did behind a podium, then the TCU quarterback’s senior season should be successful.
Pachall answered questions from about three dozen reporters on campus Wednesday for the Horned Frogs’ football media day. Last October, after playing in TCU’s first four games, Pachall was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. He left the team and spent three months receiving treatment for alcohol at a substance abuse center and returned to school in January.
“I struggled with being away from the team,” said Pachall, who is on track to graduate in December. “I had that moment of clarity that I was screwing everything up and it was my fault and I realized all the people I had let down.”
In voting by the media, Pachall was chosen as the starting quarterback on the all-Big 12 preseason team. He did not attend Big 12 media days and coach Gary Patterson explained that Pachall wanted to just concentrate being a student-athlete. But Tuesday the quarterback approached the coach and asked to face the media.
“He decided it would be better to get this off his chest and get ready to play football,” said Patterson, whose team will have its first practice Thursday. “He wanted to get this behind him. He wants to get it away from being about Casey and being about the team.”
As a sophomore and in his first full season as a starter in 2011, he set TCU records for yards (2,921), completions (228) and completion percentage (66.5). Pachall threw for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception in four games last season.
But Pachall is not guaranteed to be the starter. Sophomore Trevone Boykin stepped in for Pachall last season and played admirably. Patterson said that Boykin “had an unbelievable spring” but Pachall will have the edge as a senior if there is little difference between the two in practice.
“The only thing I can control is how I perform on the field in practice all through two-a-days and how I conduct myself off the field,” he said. “I can’t stress out about it, or I can’t worry about trying to get my spot back. All I can do is know at the end of each day that I put forth 100 percent and do everything I could for myself and my teammates and the rest will fall into place.
“I’ve matured a lot. Everything that’s happened has really humbled me and helped me out as far as my mentality. Everything that’s happened happened for a reason and I understand that now. I’m actually very grateful for it now.”
Gary Patterson (@TCUCoachP) has Tweeted nearly 2,000 times, follows nearly 3,000 others and has over 7,000 followers. He acknowledges that Twitter is a communication forum that has its plusses and minuses.
“I’m always looking at a way to outwork people and you can direct message recruits; that’s something that’s helped us,” Patterson said. “Around midnight or 1 a.m., I check out the people I’m following and it’s a good way to get caught up with what’s going on. That’s been eye opening.
“If I see something from one of my players, they’ll get a direct message from me.”
Patterson also said that his Tweeting about subjects other than football allows others to see a different side of his personality.
“A lot of people just see me for three hours on game day, this intense guy, sometimes going crazy,” he said. “I talk to our players about being able to flip the switch. You have to learn how to reinvent yourself. The Twitter thing is part of that. I’m not addicted to it.”
Gary Patterson, Unplugged
On a poll of players at Big 12 media day that picked Patterson as the coach they’d most like to play for and TCU as the Conference champion:
“No. 1, my players went into shock (that other players would like to play for him). Maybe all the players at media day got together and said, ‘Let’s set up TCU.’”
On up-tempo offenses in the Big 12:
“The defense’s job is to slow ‘em down. They’re using speed as an advantage. If they go three and out, it doesn’t take much time (off the clock) and you get your offense back on the field quick.”
On the quarterback competition between Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin:
“How do we get both of ‘em involved? Both have proven they can play at this level. For us, it’s how we navigate that. That’s the least of my problems. … We’re a lot farther ahead at that position than we were a year ago. … I think it’s changed Travone. He’s really mature on and off the field.
On TCU’s steady rise in football and athletics in general:
“You can’t just be a hard worker, you’ve also got to be able to dream. Everybody wants it right now. It took 15 years to get the stadium and the facilities we needed to get built. It’s an unbelievable road map for people who are trying to get there. It’s not just about right now, it’s not about this season. … We’re not sitting our hands. Our work has just begun. We want to be like Kansas State last year, winning three conference titles (football, men’s basketball, baseball).”
Skywriters Tour History
In a tradition that harkens back to a previous era in college football, sportswriters and broadcasters would gather in a central location and go on an annual conference-wide tour, traveling from campus-to-campus to cover preseason practices. The tour provided fans with unprecedented daily coverage from each school by moving the group between campuses by charter bus or air service and thus was dubbed the Skywriters Tour. Since 2008, the Big 12 has revived the tradition and staged its own preseason campus tour to preview the football season.