The Horned Frogs of TCU reinvented the quarterback position back in the 1930s, when Slingin’ Sammy Baugh joined the team.
Baugh, who led TCU to a 1935 Sugar Bowl victory over LSU and a 1936 national championship capped by a Cotton Bowl victory over Marquette, virtually changed the landscape on how the position was utilized.
Slingin’ Sammy threw an unprecedented 587 passes in three varsity seasons for 39 touchdowns, transforming what had previously been a ground-oriented game to one in which forward passing was utilized as a primary weapon.
Baugh went on to a hugely successful NFL career and was elected to the inaugural NFL Hall of Fame class in 1963.
Right after Baugh, “little Davey O’Brien ” continued the trend for the Frogs, leading them to an undefeated 1938 championship season. O’Brien set an NCAA mark for most rushing and passing plays that stands to this day and was TCU’s and the old Southwest Conference's first Heisman winner. In his honor, the Davey O’Brien award is given annually each year to the most outstanding college quarterback.
Against this storied backdrop, current quarterback Andy Dalton of the Frogs has quietly put up numbers that are opening a few eyes. There was even some talk that he might even be included in Heisman consideration for this, his junior year.
If he continues to produce next year, his senior campaign, as he has in his first three, there should be no question that he will be sitting amongst the finalists when the award is presented in New York City next December.
First and foremost, Dalton has been a winner. Since taking over as quarterback of the Frogs as a freshman in 2007, Dalton has started 36 games, and the Frogs are an amazing 30-6 in those games, including two bowl victories. Dalton has thrown for 7,271 yards in his career, completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 43 TDs against 21 interceptions.
He continues to improve as well. This past year, Dalton hit on 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,484 yards and 22 TDs against only five interceptions, for a stellar passing rating of 159.6 that ranks sixth nationally.
Dalton has also proven that he has the ability to utilize his running to win games. In particular, his rushing efforts versus Clemson on a rainy day in Death Valley this year were vital to the Frogs victory there (the only loss that Clemson suffered at home this year). He has rushed for 1,186 yards and 16 TDs in his career.
As with his passing, the 522 yards generated on the ground this year represent a continued improvement versus prior years.
People are starting to take notice. Named Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year for 2009, Dalton is on the watch list this year for several quarterback awards.
If he continues to put up these numbers and can lead a Horned Frog team returning 16 starters to another BCS-busting season next year, Dalton has more than a decent chance of bringing home some Heisman metal back to the city of Fort Worth.