Long Live the Rooster!: Andy Dalton's QB Play Putting TCU Over the Top

Pete MisthaufenAnalyst INovember 18, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 14:   Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the TCU Horned Frogs on the sidelines during the game against The Utah Utes at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU won the game 55-28. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Everyone has known about TCU's tough defense for years. TCU coach Gary Patterson has made fast, strong defense his signature.

But this year, TCU is being recognized for something else: unstoppable offense.

Yes, it is hard to believe. Yet for most TCU fans, the plays being run on offense are mostly familiar. 

Small changes have been made here and there, but the offense has remained to true its core.

TCU has long been a run-first team. This fits into Patterson's overall philosophy. The offense can do two good things for Patterson's defense: Eat clock and score points.

Coach Patterson has long held to the win-by-one-point idea, which has largely held true for the Frogs. Under Coach Patterson, TCU has lost only one game ever when the opponent scored fewer than 17 points, at Utah last year.

TCU has been a regular leader in time of possession, holding true to the idea that your opponent cannot score if they do not have the ball.

Last year, TCU averaged just over 420 yards per game on offense, good enough for No. 24 in the nation, with over 200 each rushing and passing.

But changes are evident this year, and the offense has shown an improved ability to dominate even top defenses.

This year, TCU is averaging over 250 yards per game rushing and over 215 yards per game passing, good enough for No. 4 in the nation in both total offense.

Where the team seemed to have trouble scoring points in big games last year (Oklahoma, Utah, and Boise State), the offense is on fire this year, as demonstrated by the rout of Utah.

Long Live the Rooster

If there is one factor more than anything else leading to the success of the Frog offense, it is the improved play of junior quarterback Andy Dalton.

A three-year starter, Dalton's improvement at quarterback has been the key factor for the incredible success of the TCU offense.

A happy warrior, Dalton seems to be taking all the success in stride, even when he was carried off the field by his fellow students last Saturday.

In TCU's toughest non-conference matchup, Dalton won the game for TCU with his running ability. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney credited Dalton's running ability for the Frog win, something Clemson had no answer for.

Dalton ran for 85 yards on 19 carries, mostly faking the handoff while cutting back into the line. Dalton also threw for two touchdowns and 226 yards.

Dalton is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation in passing efficiency, with a rating of 157.84. He is No. 32 in total offense.

TCU is ranked No. 8 in sacks allowed, largely based upon Dalton's ability to evade pursuit.

Dalton learned early on to avoid making costly mistakes. His freshman year saw him throw 11 interceptions, only to be benched. He quickly learned that mistakes had consequences.

This year he has only four interceptions on the season, almost all of which were tipped passes.

Dalton also has no 300-yard passing games this season (although he has had four over his TCU career), in large part because the team does not need him to do so.

Instead it is Andy's expert leadership over the running game that has helped TCU dominate its opponents.

Dalton has stated this season that the game has been starting to "slow down" for him this season, helping him to see openings and opportunities much quicker than in previous seasons.

Dalton is the leader of the offense, even if he is not forced to try to win the game all by himself like some other quarterbacks. 

The Rooster guides and directs his team with passion and control—and he is obviously enjoying himself.

For some odd reason, Dalton was not included in the watch lists for the Davey O'Brien Award, even though the award is named after a TCU great. This mistake should not be repeated next year.

Dalton can lead his team to victory with his feet or his arm, but it is his brain that he most often uses this season, utilizing his ability to understand the opposing defenses and execute with precision and exactness.

His ability to defeat an opponent so many different ways makes it very hard to stop the Frogs on offense.

With Andy Dalton at the helm, TCU will continue to punish opponents with the offense, a welcome addition to the dominating defense.

Unfortunately for next year's opponents, Dalton will return for his senior season, hoping to lead TCU to another undefeated regular season. Look for the Frogs to continue with their high-powered offense.

Maybe Andy will be considered for a few awards as well.


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