The season might read “2007,” but it was the same result for Horned Frogs football against Baylor, as evident by Saturday’s 27-0 opening weekend shutout of its in-state rivals.In a game marred by missed opportunities and kicking troubles early on, the Frogs gained momentum and confidence on both sides of the ball as the game progressed.
With senior defensive end Tommy Blake being scratched from the lineup and junior running back Aaron Brown going down to injury at the end of the first quarter, it was up to the Frogs’ heralded defense and redshirt freshman quarterback Andy Dalton to stave off a hungry Baylor team looking for revenge after last season’s 17-7 TCU win in Waco.
And they did just that. Dalton led the offensive attack in his first collegiate start, completing 18 of 30 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. The defense was even better, allowing only 51 rushing yards and creating four turnovers from Baylor interceptions. It was the unit’s first shutout since the Nov. 18 52-0 shutout of San Diego State.
Head coach Gary Patterson said the previous 30 days before Saturday’s game were the hardest he had been through as a head coach. Considering the team’s first three games are in a span of less than two weeks, Patterson said he was happy with the defense’s play in the redzone, and that the team needs to get healthy and rested before games against the University of Texas and Air Force.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m tired,” Patterson said at Saturday’s post-game press conference. “This has been a hard one. There hasn’t been much sleep.”
After the Frogs and Bears exchanged missed field goal attempts as well as a Dalton fumble at the Baylor goal line, the defense and the backup running backs eased the nerves of the young quarterback, giving the Frogs a 17-0 lead before Dalton’s third-quarter hookup with senior wide receiver Ervin Dickerson.
Senior defensive end Chase Ortiz said he was happy with Dalton’s debut.
“He did a great job,” Ortiz said. “I’m really proud of how he played and how he composed himself.”
Another contributor to Saturday’s victory was senior strong safety Brian Bonner. In addition to his five tackles, the Beeville native brought Frogs fans to their feet with a 64-yard punt return to set up sophomore wide receiver Ryan Christian’s 12-yard rushing touchdown.
Bonner said he credits the 10 other guys wearing purple for any type of success he has on special teams, and that he just let the play come to him.
“I just caught the ball and saw a couple holes and tried to maneuver up and out of there,” Bonner said.
Dalton was happy to know that his teammates on defense had his back and were able to pitch the shutout, he said.
“It’s nice to know that your defense is playing really well,” Dalton said. “They gave us field position and it helps out a lot.”
Saturday’s win extended TCU’s winning streak to nine games and marked the team’s fifth consecutive season-opening win. The Frogs also improved its winning streak against Big 12 opponents to 5-0 since 2005 – a record that is expected to be put to the test next week against the University of Texas.
As Frogs fans began to chant “We want Texas” during the late stages of the fourth quarter – a reminder of next weekend’s highly anticipated showdown in Austin – Patterson said that it is easier to start a chant like “We want Texas” when they do not have to play them. He said focusing on two games in less than two weeks, including next weekend’s game against Texas, will be a test for the No. 22 Horned Frogs.
“But now we’re not going to have two weeks to prepare,” Patterson said in reference to Saturday’s game against Baylor. “And you have Texas, so here we go.