After eight seasons on Oklahoma State's staff, Doug Meacham was ready to gamble. On himself. An original member of Mike Gundy's staff, Meacham coached tight ends and inside receivers for the Cowboys, but was passed over for the offensive coordinator job in favor of outside hires Dana Holgorsen (in 2010) and Todd Monken (in 2011). Following Monken's departure for Southern Miss at the conclusion of the 2012 season, Meacham did not wait around to see how it would play out this time, taking the offensive coordinator job at Houston in January 2013.
Following the 2013 season, at TCU, Gary Patterson was ready to gamble. On Meacham. Patterson was tired of running an offense opposite of what most high schools in Texas employ. “I felt there were too many great skill players leaving the state and leaving the Metroplex that we would have to change our perception and philosophy on how we played offense,” Patterson told the Dallas Morning Newsthis spring.
Patterson hired Meacham away from Houston to coach inside receivers and serve as co-offensive coordinator and play-caller, and with that came the directive to install his offense. Patterson also welcomed Sonny Cumbie from Texas Tech as his quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator, while former coordinators Jarrett Anderson and Rusty Burns remained on staff. “Their relationship is awesome,” Patterson told ESPN in April. “I think the whole group has meshed real well. They’ve brought a lot of energy and new ideas.”
The best way to assess Meacham's value is the respective rise and fall of quarterbacks John O'Korn (at Houston) and Trevone Boykin (at TCU). In 2013, O'Korn was the nation's fifth-rated freshman passer with 28 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, helping the Cougars improve from 5-7 to 8-5, while Boykin was essentially a quarterback controversy waiting to happen, tossing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions as the Horned Frogs sputtered to a 4-8 season. One year and a certain person's move from Houston to Fort Worth later and the dynamic has flipped - and then some. O'Korn has been benched at Houston after struggling to a six touchdown, eight interception start through five games, while Boykin has thrown 10 touchdowns against two interceptions. His touchdown rate has nearly doubled (3.9 percent to 6.2 percent) while his interception rate has split into fractions (3.9 percent to 1.2 percent) and his yards per attempt has leaped by a half a yard per throw (6.8 to 7.3). Meacham calls TCU's offense, but credit must also be given to Cumbie, who manages Boykin's development on a day-to-day basis as the Frogs' quarterbacks coach.
The Meacham effect came to a head Saturday, when Oklahoma got a first-person experience at the new-and-improved TCU. The same team that ran 53 plays for 210 yards (3.96 yards per play) and achieved 10 first downs in a 20-17 loss in Norman in 2013 had transformed from plodding to explosive, gashing Oklahoma for 469 yards on 78 plays - 39 passes, 39 runs, 6.36 per play - in a 37-33 win. Boykin threw for 318 yards with two touchdowns and one of his two picks while rushing 22 times for 77 yards, looking nothing like the player that managed 166 passing yards and 18 rushing yards a year prior.
The Oklahoma win, which pushed TCU to 4-0 on the season, from No. 25 to No. 9 in the AP poll, and from the fringes to the dead center of the College Football Playoff debate, validated the Horned Frogs' new offense. Saturday was just the beginning, though. The Frogs travel to Baylor next week to face the nation's fourth-rated yards per play defense. (Though we are required by law to note those numbers were built against No. 127 SMU, No. 54 Buffalo and No. 118 Texas, plus FCS Northwestern State.)
Next up after Baylor: a home date with Oklahoma State.
Think Meacham will be ready for that one?