Backup quarterback Marcus Jackson knew he was going to get some playing time against Colorado State, but after an injury to starting quarterback Andy Dalton, the game was his.Behind Jackson, TCU won its first Mountain West Conference game and moved to 3-2 with a 24-12 win against the Colorado State Rams on Saturday.
Head coach Gary Patterson said he was going to continue using the dual-quarterback system of Dalton and Jackson, but after Dalton went down with a knee injury during TCU’s first offensive drive, Jackson and the Horned Frogs did not look back.
Patterson said he was impressed with Jackson’s play, but dealing with an injury to the starting quarterback is never something he prepares for. He said Dalton suffered a bad bruise and should be fine.
Jackson said when Dalton went down, he knew he would need to lead the team.
“I had to calm myself down,” the sophomore said. “No one was expecting him to get hurt. I had to go out and play football, do what I do best.”
The defense was without preseason All-American Tommy Blake, who is on a medical leave of absence. Despite his absence, the Frogs defense still stifled the Rams to 55 rushing yards on 28 carries.
Poor late-game play has been a problem for the Frogs this year and Patterson said this game was no different.
Patterson described Saturday’s fourth quarter as a lively one and said the team needs to find a way to stay strong offensively late in games, especially with several road games coming up.
“We’ve got to play better offensively in the fourth quarter or else we’re not going to beat some of the teams we’ve got coming up in the next couple of weeks,” Patterson said.
Jackson said last season’s Frogs came out and played hard in fourth quarters of games, and the team needs to do that again this year to continue its success.
“It’s been the quarter where we came out and won,” Jackson said. “That’s when we beat our guys. That’s what we need to get back in our mindset. The fourth quarter is our quarter.”
Junior running back Aaron Brown said there were a lot of mental mistakes at the end of the game. Brown, in his second game since coming back from injury, ran for 124 yards on 22 carries and accumulated 150 total yards on the night.
“We’ve got to make our brains work better – not just the physical part,” Brown said.
Jackson said having Brown back is a great luxury that takes a great burden off the offense.
“Everyone else doesn’t feel like they have to be Aaron Brown,” Jackson said. “They can just go out and do what they do best.”
Brown said Patterson has been preaching to play for the love of the game, not just the game itself.
Senior defensive end Chase Ortiz said the team still needs to improve its late-game play, but the team is getting better in that department.
“Since the game a couple weeks ago, we’ve preached ‘finish games out,'” Ortiz said. “I don’t think we were 100 percent, but we’re getting better.”
Jackson made his mark quickly after entering the game for Dalton with a four-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game.
Colorado State responded in its ensuing possession with a field goal, but was held without another score until the fourth quarter.
TCU started the second quarter off quickly with a four-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to junior tight end Shae Reagan.
TCU’s next two possessions ended with a 19-yard field goal from junior Chris Manfredini and another four-yard rushing touchdown from Jackson.