Andy Dalton isn't expecting a grand tribute when he passes Sammy Baugh in the TCU record book. After all, Baugh is a member of both the college and pro football halls of fame, and the school's indoor practice facility is named after him. So when Dalton gains his 30th career victory for the most by a Horned Frogs starting quarterback (he and Baugh are tied at 29), he's thinking of a recognition on a slightly smaller scale. "He's got the indoor. [Maybe] I can have my name just a little smaller under his," Dalton says jokingly.
Offensive players have gotten used to second billing at TCU. During Gary Patterson's nine seasons as coach, defense has been the program's calling card. In that period his 4-2-5 unit has ranked among the top two in the nation four times (2002, '06, '08 and '09).
But this year—with four starters gone from the D, including All-America end Jerry Hughes (31st pick in the NFL draft) and linebacker Daryl Washington (47th), and with nine starters returning on offense—Dalton & Co. may finally get some recognition. That offense was pretty potent in 2009, ranking fifth nationally in scoring (38.3 points a game) and seventh in total yards (456.7). Dalton, a junior last season, earned the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year award, after passing for 2,756 yards and 23 touchdowns.
No other player is more important to the team's success in 2010 than Dalton. TCU is 31--8 in the last three seasons, but it is 0--4 when he has thrown multiple interceptions. In the 17--10 loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, he threw three picks and was sacked twice. It wasn't until a week after the game that he could stomach watching a replay. "I may have put a little bit more pressure on myself than maybe I should have," he says. "I've definitely grown from that experience, and it's really going to help me this season."
This fall he has one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the country and an experienced line in front of him (four starters are back). So the pieces are in place for Dalton to help TCU make a run at the BCS title game. "He has matured since his redshirt freshman year," Patterson says. "This team and this program have risen with him."
CONFERENCE Mountain West
COACH Gary Patterson (10th year)
2009 RECORD 12--1 (8--0 in MWC)
FINAL AP RANK 6
RETURNING STARTERS 16
Offense 9, Defense 7
4 Oregon State (in Arlington, Texas)
11 Tennessee Tech
24 at SMU
2 at Colorado State
23 Air Force
30 at UNLV
6 at Utah
13 San Diego State
27 at New Mexico
A former BMX world champion, Carder last year was first on the team in passes broken up (10) and second in tackles (89).
This speedster was the conference's special teams player of the year in 2009 and is the leader of a deep receiving corps.
Kirkpatrick set the blocking scheme for the nation's fifth-best rushing attack.
MARK J. REBILAS/US PRESSWIRE (DALTON)
TCU has the potential to score a lot of points with Dalton (14), explosive receivers and an experienced line.
BRAD SCHLOSS/ICON SMI