Over the past four years, TCU fans were used to the well-spoken, clean-cut starting quarterback and game manager that was Andy Dalton. The right-handed redhead from Katy, Texas displayed the intangibles coaches and fans wanted to see. More importantly he won games — something to the tune of the most in program history.
In 2011, fans will see a different quarterback at the helm for the Frogs. Sophomore Casey Pachall, a highly touted four-star recruit from Brownwood, Texas, might have a different image than Dalton did, with long hair and a right arm covered in tattoos, but he expects to produce the same results as his predecessor did.
Most of his expectations arise from what he learned from Dalton, after having spent the past two years as his backup.
“Andy helped me a tremendous amount,” Pachall said. “Being under him and learning from one of the top quarterbacks in the nation was definitely something that helped a lot. Seeing the decisions and reads he would make really set in and helped me understand the game more.”
Head coach Gary Patterson, who gave a speech to the team about leadership after Monday’s spring practice, said his expectation for his quarterbacks is simple: to win.
“Our status is win by one point,” Patterson said. “Our whole thing is to manage the game. Don’t lose the ballgame and put the ball in the hands of the guys you’re supposed to. It’s the same strategy we’ve had for 14 years here.”
Pachall, who did his first media interview since arriving at TCU after practice Monday, was an early enrollee in 2009 and then redshirted in his first season on campus. Pachall has been here for almost two and a half years now, and believes that extra time was crucial to his development as a quarterback.
“Nothing feels new. I feel like I’ve been here for a while because I came in early,” Pachall said. “Eventually I started getting a hold of things, and that [first spring] was huge.”
Pachall and redshirt freshman Matt Brown, the only other quarterback on the depth chart right now, have been getting all the reps this spring due to position changes from redshirt freshman Sam Carter and sophomore Rick Settle, who both moved to safety, and as well as former TCU quarterback Yogi Gallegos transferring. Those roster changes, as well as Pachall’s work this spring seem to validate Pachall’s decision to choose TCU over offers from Notre Dame, Florida and Michigan.
“In the spring game I felt like I did some things good, but I didn’t do as good as I wanted to,” Pachall said. “As an offense, I feel we were a little slow, but that’s something we will get fixed.”
Pachall and sophomore wide receiver Josh Boyce have displayed a good connection on the field this spring, with Boyce seeming to be Pachall’s clear No. 1 wide receiver target. That comes, in part, from the fact that the two also have a good relationship off the field.
“We have a great relationship. He’s my roommate, so that helps a lot,” Pachall said. “We’ve been hanging out since we got [to TCU], so being around him every day helped.”
Filling the shoes of a quarterback who won the most games in school history is certainly not going to be an easy task, but Pachall seems to be making the right steps toward doing that this spring.
When asked about Pachall filling the shoes of Dalton, Patterson said his quarterback needs to create his own path and not worry about the past.
“I didn’t ask Andy Dalton to fill the shoes of [former QB] Tye Gunn,” Patterson said. “All I want him to do is be himself. I was very pleased with the way Casey has handled himself.”