SAN ANTONIO — Don Pellum thought his players were joking.
Oregon’s defensive coordinator didn’t want to believe that TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin had actually been arrested in the wee hours on Thursday, charged with felony assault of a police officer and suspended for the Alamo Bowl.
Even though Boykin’s absence figures to make Pellum’s job easier today at the Alamodome, the Ducks took no joy in discussing the situation hours after the news broke.
“Everybody makes mistakes. That’s a very tough mistake with the magnitude of it, in terms of the media and all,” Pellum said. “But the sun is going to come up tomorrow. It’s going to be all right. …
“The nice thing about the college football world is everyone wants to see guys mature and grow up and move on. He’ll be forgiven. All that’s going to happen. He’s just got to believe that.”
Boykin passed for 3,575 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for 612 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. The senior is TCU’s career leader in total yards (12,777), passing yards (10,728), passing touchdowns (86) and touchdowns responsible for (114).
Even though the dynamic dual-threat star won’t be in the lineup, the Ducks believe they have a lot to prove.
Oregon ranks 114th in scoring defense (36.8 ppg), 126th in passing defense (301.2 ypg) and allowed Oregon State’s anemic offense to score 35 points in the second half the last time they were on the field.
“I don’t think it changes preparation at all,” sophomore safety Charles Nelson said. “It’s unfortunate for (Boykin), but the show must go on.”
TCU co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said a decision on whether senior Bram Kohlhausen or freshman Foster Sawyer starts won’t be made until after Friday’s walk-through.
When Boykin missed the Oklahoma game with an injury, both backups were given a chance to step into the spotlight
Sawyer started the game and was 7-for-8 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter before the Sooners surged ahead 30-13.
Kohlhausen sparked a comeback in the fourth quarter but was unable to pull off the upset as his two-point conversion pass failed in a 30-29 loss.
“They’ll be ready for us,” defensive end DeForest Buckner said. “We’re not taking it lightly.”
TCU will also be without wide receiver Josh Doctson, who is recovering from a broken wrist. The consensus all-American set school single-season records for receptions (79), receiving yards (1,327) and touchdowns (14) in 10 games.
“Our players have seen the film. These guys are really good,” Pellum said when asked if he was worrying about his players having a letdown. “You miss a tackle, it’s a touchdown, regardless of which guy it is. We will have to play a great game on defense, play a complete game. I’m not worried.”
Baylor, TCU’s Big 12 rival, was without its top two quarterbacks (Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham), its top wide receiver (Corey Coleman) and its top running back (Shock Linwood) for the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Bears set a bowl record with 645 rushing yards during a 49-38 victory over North Carolina.
“We’re expecting a more fiery team because they’ve lost something,” Pellum said. “I think they’ll come back. Sometimes when you’re injured or sometimes when you lose someone, when the troops really need it, you can come back stronger. I think that’s what we’re going to get.”
Even before Boykin’s arrest, Oregon’s players had been reminded by coach Mark Helfrich to be on their best behavior.
“Coach Helfrich kind of instills it into us throughout the year,” linebacker Joe Walker said. “Nobody has a desire to go out. We’re here to play a football game.”
TCU’s coaches said Boykin was in his room at curfew but went out after the bed check. Oregon’s players are also monitored during their stay on the tempting River Walk.
“The tough thing is that they are kids,” Pellum said. “You have to continue that process of trying to educate them. At some point they’re out there and they have to make some tough decisions, but that’s part of growing up.”