DALLAS -- TCU head coach Gary Patterson is the first to tell you he would love to have sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields playing in the season opener against LSU at Cowboys Stadium.
Fields had 10 of the Horned Frogs' 29 sacks last season, earning Freshman All-America honors, but he wonât be available against the Tigers as he begins serving a two-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.
Patterson said the intent was to educate Fields and the team's other underclassmen more than punish.
"If they don't think there is any accountability and you don't protect the good guys that are always doing right, then what you have is a situation where they never ever reach their potential," Patterson said Monday at Big 12 media days.
Patterson compared Fields' suspension to that of starting quarterback Casey Pachall midway through the 2012 season. Pachall subsequently went to a drug rehab facility and is now back at TCU for his senior season.
"The key is looking at it long range, understanding you're not looking at two games in a season. You are looking at a four-year career and from (age) 22-62," Patterson said. "It's our job to grow them up to be successful in life. It's not personal."
Even with the suspension, Fields appears well on his way to maximizing that potential. He has shown dramatic improvement in the weight room, Patterson said, with Fields lifting over 400 pounds in the power clean and squatting 700 pounds.
Said Patterson: "A stronger, faster Devonte Fields is a lot different player."
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.