TCU overcomes injuries to remain undefeated

Updated: October 3, 2003, 12:29 PM ET

FORT WORTH, Texas -- After quarterback Tye Gunn got hurt in practice, TCU replaced him with a first-time starter and won. Same thing when top tailback Lonta Hobbs got hurt.

Coach Gary Patterson doesn't spend a lot of time talking about injuries. He just finds somebody else to play.

"It's not something I want our guys to focus on," Patterson said. "I've always had to play with walk-ons as a coach, and that's why we push kids. They know they'll get their chance. You just have to survive injury cycles."

So far, that's worked for the No. 20 Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0 C-USA).

Brandon Hassell, a fourth-year junior who had never thrown a pass in a game, has won both of his starts in place of Gunn. Freshman Robert Merrill has had consecutive 100-yard rushing games, the first after replacing Hobbs in a game and then getting his first career carry.

Gunn, who separated his right shoulder in practice three weeks ago, and Hobbs will be back in uniform for Saturday night's game against Army (0-4, 0-2). But TCU will have to replace injured safety Marvin Godbolt, who had an interception in each of the first four games.

Godbolt sprained his left knee in last week's 13-10 overtime win at Arizona. The Frogs aren't sure when he will return.

Patterson expects Gunn, the sophomore who is 6-0 as the starter, to split time with Hassell. The quarterback rotation, which isn't likely to continue through the season, will allow Gunn to get back in the flow of playing again.

The Horned Frogs play seven straight C-USA games, including at South Florida next Friday night.

Hobbs, who has five TDs in his 50 carries this season, hurt his right ankle in the first quarter against Vanderbilt on Sept. 20. He didn't play at Arizona, and may not again this week.

"Lonta's ankle is too hard to come back from too soon," Patterson said. "We have to have another tailback for South Florida because of the humidity there. You can't just look at this week's game. You have to look ahead and plan."

Plus, TCU can probably make it another week without Hobbs.

Army has won just one of its 16 games since ending the 2001 season with a win over Navy. The Black Knights haven't played a ranked team in this decade, and haven't beaten one since 1972.

The Frogs have won 15 of 16 games since an overtime loss at Cincinnati started 2002. They also have a nine-game winning streak at home.

"They're exceptional on defense. Their offense presents a lot of problems," said Army coach Todd Berry.

Despite playing its first four games at home, Army lost by an average margin of 38-19. They lost 28-0 last week to South Florida in which the Black Knights were hampered by injuries to two receivers and two offensive linemen.

Junior quarterback Reggie Nevels is still out after suffering a leg injury as the starter in the opener. Berry said he's still at least another week from playing.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index