TCU wants BCS again before coming off mountain

Rose Bowl champion TCU is coming off the mountain after this

season.

Before going to the Big East, 14th-ranked TCU will try to win a

third consecutive Mountain West championship and earn another Bowl

Championship Series appearance without the benefit of the automatic

berth that will be available in its new league.

The Frogs will have to do it without Andy Dalton, the winningest

quarterback in school history, and seven other offensive

starters.

”What the older players have left us with mentality-wise is

knowing that it takes to get to that point,” said sophomore

quarterback Casey Pachall. ”Everybody else says `Oh, they had two

undefeated seasons’ and they’re thinking we’re going to fall off

this year. But we don’t think so and we don’t expect anything

less.”

TCU was ranked No. 2 at the end of last season after going 13-0

with a 21-19 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. The Frogs have won

25 consecutive regular-season games, their only loss the past two

years coming in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2009 season.

The Horned Frogs have won at least 10 games seven times the past

nine seasons under coach Gary Patterson. There were only five such

seasons before that, four in the 1930s and the other in 2000 when

Patterson was defensive coordinator for Dennis Franchione.

”I’ll be honest with you, it will be an interesting year for

us,” Patterson said. ”Everybody talks about how we lost a lot of

seniors. I think, talent-wise, what we have coming back will

develop. It won’t be as much about the younger players.

”I’m more worried about the hunger of our group … how bad we

want to repeat.”

Dalton is now an NFL rookie starter for Cincinnati after winning

42 games for TCU, the school where ”Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh won 29

games over three seasons in the mid-1930s before Davey O’Brien was

the Heisman Trophy winner while leading the Frogs to their only AP

national championship in 1938.

Pachall has already been through three springs with TCU after

graduating high school early. But the dual-threat quarterback has

thrown only nine passes and rushed 15 times while appearing in

eight games behind Dalton.

”I’ve had to wait a little bit and put in my time,” Pachall

said. ”Now that the opportunity has risen for me to kind of get

into the mix, I’m excited. Excited to get things started, excited

with the team we have.”

Though it seems likely that Pachall will be the starter when TCU

opens the season Sept. 2 at Baylor, Patterson has stopped short of

declaring that. Pachall missed a couple of days of practice last

week because of a sore shoulder. The other two quarterbacks are

freshmen.

Pachall certainly brings a little more edge to the position.

Unlike Dalton, the clean-cut redhead who led TCU to consecutive

undefeated regular seasons, Pachall has long hair and tattoos.

Receiver Skye Dawson said Pachall has taken some ”very big

steps” after watching Dalton.

”I feel like he’s taken bitty pieces of what Andy has been

doing and he’s been doing good as well. He’s definitely been doing

a great job on the field,” Dawson said. ”The tattoos and stuff, I

feel like that doesn’t make a difference. Everybody’s got a

different side to them.”

Despite all the lost starters on offense, the Frogs are loaded

at running back with the return of their top three rushers – Ed

Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Wayman James, all underclassmen. Wesley

is coming off a 1,000-yard season while all three had 100-yard

games.

Rose Bowl defensive MVP Tank Carder headlines six returning

defensive starters.

Carder and Tanner Brock give the Frogs both of the linebackers

in their 4-2-5 defense. Up front are All-MWC defensive tackle D.J.

Yendrey and Stansly Maponga, who started 12 games as a freshman

with 32 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks.

The Horned Frogs will be depending on a lot of youth this

season.

”About 65 to 70 percent of our team are sophomores, redshirt

freshmen or freshmen. When Boise State went on its run a few years

ago, I think they started 12 or 13 freshmen. All of that can be

done,” Patterson said. ”You’ve got to decide if you’re going to

use it as an excuse or a positive. We’re trying to be a program and

not just a team.”

Ironically, Boise State is a conference foe – at Boise, on Nov.

12 – for TCU’s final Mountain West season.

The Broncos are the newcomer to the altered league. BYU

(independent) and Utah (Pac-12) are already gone before TCU heads

east after this season.