NCF Nation: Andy Dalton

FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU completed its body of work in the regular season by handling its business with a 55-3 win against an overmatched Iowa State team (2-10) on Senior Day at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The third-ranked Horned Frogs (11-1) rested their case for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff in impressive fashion.

Let's take a look at how it happened.

How the game was won: After a first half that TCU dominated everywhere but the scoreboard (17-3), the Frogs slammed on the gas in the third quarter. Quarterback Trevone Boykin found running back Aaron Green for a 54-yard touchdown strike on the fourth play of the second half. Safety Derrick Kindred added a 44-yard pick-six later as TCU finished with 31 points in the quarter.

Game ball goes to: Trevone Boykin. The Frogs junior completed 15 of his first 19 pass attempts and finished the game 30-of-41 passing for 460 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. He also had his first career touchdown catch to put TCU on the board. Boykin, who broke Andy Dalton's single-season team record for touchdown passes, won't win the Heisman Trophy, but he might get an invitation to New York as a finalist.

Playoff implication: TCU did nothing to hurt its position at No. 3 in the playoff rankings on the eve of the selections. If the Frogs somehow fall, it's because of what Baylor and Ohio State do later today in games against superior competition. TCU has impressed the selection committee for months and continued to do so Saturday.

Best play: The Frogs went razzle dazzle minutes into the game, as wide receiver David Porter caught a lateral from Boykin, then threw back to Boykin, who followed a convoy of linemen 55 yards to the end zone.

What's next: TCU will play close attention to tonight's Kansas State-Baylor game in Waco, as a Baylor loss would settle the Big 12 playoff debate between the teams. Gary Patterson's squad then will await its College Football Playoff fate, as the selections are announced Sunday at 12:45 p.m. ET about 30 miles from here at the Gaylord Texan Resort.
Last week, we asked a series of non-AQ poll questions. Today, I am here to discuss the results. First, we begin with the questions that dealt with the players. The most popular question was: "Who is the toughest player to replace?"

TCU quarterback Andy Dalton led the way with 58 percent of the more than 6,400 votes. Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a distant second with 22 percent of the vote. I understand why fans voted this way because Dalton has meant so much to the Horned Frogs. TCU went to its first two BCS games under Dalton and won a Rose Bowl. But my choice was Kaepernick because TCU has built a national program and likes to think it reloads, rather than rebuilds. Nevada had a special season and it is going to be hard to top what happened in 2010 unless Tyler Lantrip can put together another storybook season.

BYU quarterback Jake Heaps topped two categories: Most improved player and biggest impact player. The candidates I selected under impact player came under scrutiny from some fans. Perhaps the question was a bit nebulous because the word "impact" can mean so many different things.

My definition: Which player has the biggest impact on his team. Some wondered why I had Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore on the list because he is expected to be just as good as always in 2011. My reasoning is because he has the biggest impact on that team no matter how good he has been in the past. Take Kellen Moore away, and Boise State is not a preseason top-10 team. That is why Houston quarterback Case Keenum is on the list. Houston went 5-7 and missed a bowl game without him last season.

Moore did top the offensive player of the year voting, while TCU linebacker Tank Carder won the vote for defensive player of the year. No surprise there, although some Boise State fans were upset I did not include Broncos defensive tackle Billy Winn among the candidates. Even if I had, I still think Carder would have won the vote.
There are a number of good non-AQ players who have to replaced headed into 2011, so we pose the question to you: Who is going to be the most difficult to replace?

I narrowed the field down to five candidates. There are many, many more who are worthy of being on this list, from Greg Salas at Hawaii to Chad Spann at Northern Illinois to Dontay Moch at Nevada. But I felt these were the five biggest names, and five biggest impact players on their respective teams.

For me, the vote comes down to TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Dalton won a school-record 42 games at TCU, led two straight undefeated regular seasons and won a Rose Bowl. He helped TCU become one of the top non-AQ teams in the nation, and that led to an invitation from the Big East. So he has had an impact both on and off the field. His leadership was unquestioned.

But Kaepernick led the type of magical season never seen before at Nevada. He, too, has his name all over the school record books, and he too was the unquestioned leader of his team. The key difference for me is this -- TCU has become a national program and will continue to be a national program even without Dalton. We cannot definitively say the same of Nevada without Kaepernick. Just look at the preseason rankings. TCU is there. Nevada is not.

So ultimately, I think it will be more difficult to replace Kaepernick because the players that follow are going to have to maintain what he started. That might be possible in the Mountain West, but it is hard to know at this point.

Lunchtime Links

May, 6, 2011
Happy Friday and Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful women out there. Men, don't forget to thank your moms and wives on Sunday. Now on to some links.

Boise State tried to fix football violations, then created more.

BYU linebacker Jadon Wagner has opted to go the CFL route.

Sen. Orrin Hatch applauds the Justice Department for questioning the BCS.

After the Bengals drafted A.J. Green, he was asked which quarterback he wanted the team to draft. "Andy Dalton," Green said.

Video: Gary Patterson gets into the swing of things for the PGA Tour event, the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Sorta.

East Carolina has surpassed the 20,000 mark in season-ticket sales for the fifth straight season.

The disparity in TV money between Colorado and Colorado State is ...

TCU = NFL factory?

May, 6, 2011
TCU had five players drafted last week for the second time in three seasons. The Horned Frogs have developed into a veritable football factory.

  • TCU had the most picks of any school in the state of Texas for the second time in three years, while its five draft picks tied for ninth among all schools.
  • The Horned Frogs were one of just 13 teams to have at least five players drafted.
  • TCU has had at least one player drafted in 10 of the past 11 seasons.
  • In 10 seasons, coach Gary Patterson has had 29 players drafted.

Patterson discussed his success at getting players drafted at a news conference on campus earlier this week. Patterson said NFL clubs are looking for team players.

"There's a reason why we've won ballgames," he said. "You've got to have good players and they have to be disciplined. We've built a reputation where if it comes down to two guys they're going to take a TCU guy."

Case in point -- the Patriots took defensive back Malcolm Williams in the seventh round. Williams was a backup his entire TCU career. Quarterback Andy Dalton, a second-round pick of the Bengals, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Horned Frogs have built a good reputation in NFL circles.

"It doesn't really matter if you're the starting quarterback or if you're playing special teams, there's still an opportunity there," he said.

Three of the players drafted -- Dalton, Jeremy Kerley and Marcus Cannon came from the offensive side of the ball. So what does that say about a team known for its defense? Clearly Patterson has done a good job getting talent on his team at every position. With the impending move to the Big East, he should do even better.
Temple defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson was the only non-AQ player drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, at No. 30 to the New York Jets. Wilkerson is the third first-round selection in Temple history and the first since 1987.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper cited this as one of the best picks of the round, and I agree. Wilkerson fits an area of need and as an added bonus, gets to stay close to home.

One of the big surprises at the end of the day: TCU quarterback Andy Dalton was still available after many projected him rising all the way to the first round. FSU quarterback Christian Ponder went ahead of Dalton, something that ended up shocking many draft experts.

Having said that, Kiper has Dalton as the top non-AQ player going in the second round tonight. Here are the rest of the non-AQ players he has going in the second round of his latest mock draft:
The third round also is Friday.
The big night is here for the best college football players in the country, and we can finally get our questions answered. Will Andy Dalton cap a meteoric rise over the past few months and become a first-round pick? How about Muhammad Wilkerson, the highest rated of the non-AQ players?

The first round of the NFL draft is Thursday night. For those who enjoyed my Cover It Live chats during the college football season with Emily Schaible, be sure to keep her company during her live chat Thursday. (Andrea not included). Emily would love to hear from you, but try not to take it personally if your comment never gets posted. She gets thousands a night!

Now let us take one final look at where Mel Kiper Jr. projects non-AQ players going in the first round. Insider

Wilkerson: No. 17, New England Patriots. Kiper says:
Wilkerson is a player who I don't think would escape the top-10 picks if he stuck around Temple for another year, but he simply dominated the competition in 2010 and is ready for this shot. He fits in well as a 3-4 defensive end and can really create havoc.

Dalton: No. 25, Seattle Seahawks. Kiper says:
There is talk that Seattle would be happy to move off this pick, but if not, Dalton is a guy who makes a lot of sense. A darling of the draft process, Dalton has impressed with his accuracy, smarts, better-than-expected arm strength and the suspicion that he might be as ready or more than any other QB in the draft to step in and manage an NFL offense.

Lunchtime Links

April, 27, 2011
Remembering Michigan and Dolphins great Jim Mandich today with a big "Awwwwwwwwwright Miiiiiiiiiiamuh!" You will be missed.

Here are your links

How profitable is football in Conference USA?

Andy Dalton turned down an invitation to attend the NFL draft and instead he will watch in his hometown of Katy, Texas.

How do you beat Boise State's football team? Start with a high NFL draft pick on offense.

Former San Diego State receiver DeMarco Sampson is taking a wait and see approach to the draft.

Three former Nevada players could be drafted.

The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl plans to talk to the Mountain West about retaining its tie-in with Hawaii in years the Warriors are bowl eligible.

UTEP has added Ole Miss to its 2012 schedule.

Temple Muhammad Wilkerson is eagerly anticipating the draft.
Of all the things NFL general managers and scouts analyze, this one has got to be right up there with the most preposterous.

[+] EnlargeTexas Christian quarterback Andy Dalton
AP Photo/Darron CummingsWould an NFL team really consider not drafting TCU quarterback Andy Dalton because of his hair color?
Andy Dalton is being scrutinized for his red hair. As a fellow redhead, I have got to borrow from "Into the Night" radio host Tony Bruno and say, "This is an outrage!"

I know what they say about redheads, that we are fiery and stubborn with bad tempers. We have long been the "scorned" redheaded stepchildren, the ones targeted in "Kick a Ginger Day" that sadly and outrageously led to kids getting beaten up a few years ago. We get it. We look different.

But if you are really thinking about not drafting a guy because of his hair color, then you are just looking for a reason to go with somebody else. Question his arm strength, his aptitude, his ability, his leadership, his character, his intangibles all you want. Hair color is generally not on the ol' scouts check list.

What should be on it: his accomplishments on the field. His red hair never precluded him from winning a school-record 42 games and a Rose Bowl. That success had a direct impact on TCU getting an invite to the Big East. He also is a leader on campus, a guy who has counseled little boys with red hair because they got teased and tormented the way I did when I was a kid.

I had a conversation with Dalton about this last summer, and asked whether he got teased for his red hair when he was growing up. He said he never did, that he always felt comfortable being a red head even though he usually was the only one around who looked different from everyone else.

Andy Dalton just made it seem cool to be a red head.

But not cool enough for one NFL coach, who told Peter King of Sports Illustrated: "Has there ever been a red-headed quarterback in the NFL who's really done well? It sounds idiotic, but is there any way that could be a factor? We've wondered."

It does not just sound idiotic. It is idiotic.

Lunchtime Links

April, 21, 2011
Welcome to your links ...

Kent State safety Zachary Gonosz has been suspended from the team indefinitely after his arrest on charges of underage drinking, displaying a fake I.D. and assault.

UCF veteran Rob Calabrese makes a shift from quarterback to receiver.

Boise State's top target at quarterback for 2012 was in town visiting this week.

Could former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton go No. 11 in the draft?

A.J. Graham and Eddie Sullivan have done little to separate themselves in the race to become the starting quarterback at Marshall.

Plenty of competition at Navy for starting linebacker spots.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft worked hard last fall to convince the Big East to take UMass.

Nevada running back Vai Taua shouldn't lose hope if he goes undrafted.

Hawaii students want prime seating at football games because they are now paying at student athletics fee that benefits the athletics department.

Air Force cornerback Reggie Rembert isn't sure what his NFL future will bring.

UTEP has some depth on the defensive line.

Andy Dalton and the Jets?

April, 15, 2011
There has been lots of speculation headed into the NFL draft about where TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick could land.

Well, there is a bit of news concerning Dalton. Rich Cimini of reports the Jets worked out Dalton on Friday. The move may seem curious, considering the Jets have Mark Sanchez. But as Cimini writes:
Dalton is a fast-rising prospect who could slip into the bottom of the first round, according to scouts. The Jets own the 30th overall pick. While it makes no sense for them to invest another first-round pick in a quarterback, the Jets' interest in Dalton could be a way to entice quarterback-needy teams below them to trade up, increasing the value of the Jets' position.

Dalton's stock has been rising thanks to good performances during Senior Bowl week and the combine. The Vikings, Patriots, Colts and Titans, Browns and Bears have all reportedly worked Dalton out, too.

In his latest mock draft, Mel Kiper has Dalton going early in the second round, at No. 35 to the Bengals.

As for Kaepernick, his stock also has been rising. He has had workouts with at least eight teams: Oakland, Tennessee, Miami, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Scouts seem to love his arm strength (he used to be a baseball player), and he did very well on the Wonderlic with a 37, one of the highest scores of all prospects.

Kiper has him going in the third round, at No. 76 overall to San Francisco.

Among the other non-AQ players featured in Kiper's mock draft from earlier this month:

First round

Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, No. 16 to the Chargers.

Second round

Nevada linebacker Dontay Moch, No. 45 to San Francisco.

UCF offensive tackle Jah Reid, No. 51to Tampa Bay.

Boise State receiver Titus Young, No. 58 to Baltimore.

Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan, No. 59 to Atlanta.

Third round

Fresno State linebacker Chris Carter, No. 72, New Orleans

Hawaii running back Alex Green, No. 78, St. Louis

TCU offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, No. 82, San Diego

Hawaii receiver Greg Salas, No. 86, Kansas City

Boise State receiver Austin Pettis, No. 95, Pittsburgh

TCU motto: Do it now

April, 13, 2011
No question TCU is going to be a new-look team in 2011. But coach Gary Patterson realizes he does not have time to wait and see how his team develops.

Hence the motto for 2011: Do it now.

“We don’t have time to say this year we’re going to have young guys, we have to develop a new quarterback,” Patterson said in a phone interview. “Now is our challenge to grow up and be a preseason top 25 team.”

TCU is in a vastly different position today than it was a year ago at this time. Expectations were high for the Horned Frogs going into 2010, and even included talk about potentially becoming the first non-AQ team to play for a national championship.

That did not happen, but they did beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and their 26 seniors left with a career 36-3 record. With players like Andy Dalton, Tejay Johnson and Jake Kirkpatrick gone, many expect this to be a rebuilding year -- many outside Fort Worth.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
AP Photo/Jake SchoellkopfCasey Pachall replaces Andy Dalton under center for the Horned Frogs.
Whether this year is as good as the last few could hinge on what happens with the offense. The trademark defense is expected to be just as good, even without Johnson manning the defensive backfield. Linebackers Tank Carder and Tanner Brock return, and the defensive line could be even better.

The three biggest questions right now:

  • How will Casey Pachall do replacing Andy Dalton at quarterback?
  • Who will step up in the receiving corps?
  • How will TCU play on the offensive line?

Pachall had a good spring, but Patterson is holding off on any judgments until the season opener at Baylor on Sept. 3. “The only way you can judge a quarterback is by the way he plays in the fall,” Patterson said.

The redshirt sophomore has several advantages over Dalton, who also made his first career start against Baylor back in 2007 (that game was at home, a key difference). For one, Pachall has had three spring practices to learn. Dalton did not. Pachall also has a better arm and better running ability. Depth at running back also is huge, with Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James all returning.

But there are several other factors that will determine whether Pachall can be successful immediately. The offensive line loses four of five starters, including center Jake Kirkpatrick and tackle Marcus Cannon, expected to be high NFL draft picks. Both tackles are gone, and that is one of the biggest question marks headed into the fall. Senior Jeff Olson is slated to start at one spot, but plenty of other candidates are aiming for the other spot.

Three of the team’s top four leading receivers are also gone, though leading wideout Josh Boyce returns. Antonie Hicks and Skye Dawson had good springs, but watch for true freshman receivers Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown to see playing time immediately.

If all the pieces of the offense come together, this could be another great year. But everyone will be watching to see whether Pachall has what it takes to be a leader. When I asked Patterson whether quarterbacks are born with those intangibles or if they are something they learn through game experience, he went back to his quarterback in 2005 and 2006.

“Jeff Ballard was 19-2 and I fired him every Tuesday,” Patterson said. “He was a terrible practice quarterback. Casey knows it’s about wins and losses -- it’s not about yardage, it’s not about touchdowns. He has to do whatever he can to manage the game. We’ll see how it works.”

Spring rewind: TCU

April, 12, 2011
TCU kicks off the first of several spring wrapups for selected non-AQ teams. The Horned Frogs have plenty of holes to fill after losing an eye-popping 26 seniors, including veteran leaders Andy Dalton, Jake Kirkpatrick and Tejay Johnson. Several players stepped up, while other positions still have question marks headed into fall practice.

Questions answered: The biggest are the replacements for Dalton and Johnson. Casey Pachall had a good spring and really answered the challenge of having to replace the winningest quarterback in school history. Pachall is bigger than Dalton, has a stronger arm than Dalton and can run faster than Dalton. Though he is just a redshirt sophomore, he just completed his third spring practice at TCU because he was an early enrollee. He definitely has a grasp of the offense, and split all the reps this spring with Matt Brown -- the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster right now. Senior Johnny Fobbs is penciled in to replace Johnson and also appears to be stepping up. One position to note is defensive line, where coach Gary Patterson believes his team could be even better than last season. Braylon Broughton had a terrific spring as the replacement for Wayne Daniels at defensive end, and Stansly Maponga continued to mature at the other end spot. Broughton, at 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, is also a senior and expectations are high for him.

[+] EnlargeTank Carder
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireTCU will be counting on leadership and production from linebacker Tank Carder in the fall.
Questions unanswered: The biggest is who is going to step up as a leader to fill the void of Dalton, Johnson and Kirkpatrick. There are several candidates, from linebacker Tank Carder to receiver Josh Boyce to guard Blaize Foltz. Patterson will not have his answer until fall camp, when he sees who steps up and takes leadership and accountability during offseason workouts -- when the true character of teams are formed. As for positions, receiver needs more depth, and TCU is most likely going to need to rely on two highly touted incoming true freshmen -- Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown. The offensive line also has four new starters, though some of them have gotten extended playing time in games. Pachall might have the physical tools, but does he have the intangibles to lead TCU to another BCS game?

Spring stars: Watch for Sam Carter at safety. Carter follows the mold Patterson loves to use when finding his defensive stars. Carter came in as a quarterback and redshirted in the fall. He is now playing safety and opened some eyes. So did true freshman Deryk Gildon out of Arlington, Texas. Gildon enrolled early and at some points during the spring was running with the second team. He has a chance to get some playing time this season on special teams, and behind Carder and Tanner Brock.

Of note: Carder sat out the spring while rehabbing an injury. What sticks out to me is the way TCU is playing the underdog card for the 2011 season. The Horned Frogs have lost one game the past two seasons, but are most likely going to be picked to finish second in the Mountain West behind Boise State because of all the players they lose. TCU backers will tell you that the program is on solid footing, and they don't rebuild, they reload. They will most certainly have to prove that this season.

Non-AQ Top 25 Players: No. 4

March, 16, 2011
No. 4 Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

[+] EnlargeDalton
Douglas C. Pizac/US PresswireAndy Dalton led TCU to a Rose Bowl title this past season.
Given the success of the Horned Frogs in 2010, it stands to reason there would be several TCU players in the top 5. Dalton gets the no-brainer spot in the top 5 for leading his team to a perfect regular season and a Rose Bowl championship.

Dalton ended his career with the most wins in TCU history (42), three shy of the NCAA record Colt McCoy set in 2009. But that Rose Bowl win was the most important one because Dalton had, perhaps unfairly, gotten a reputation for not being able to win the big game.

That reputation reared its head after a dismal performance against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl last season, when he threw three interceptions. But he was nearly flawless against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, winning offensive MVP honors after going 15-of-23 for 219 yards with a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown -- and no interceptions.

That game capped a terrific senior season in which he won Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year honors and was a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards. On the year, Dalton threw for a career-high 2,857 yards, 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He added 435 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as well. His experience as a four-year starter allowed TCU to finish No. 2 in the nation and become one of the most recognizable non-AQ programs -- until it heads to the Big East in 2012. His is another huge hole TCU will have to fill in the upcoming season.
In the next few days, I will be compiling my list of the Top 25 non-AQ players of 2010. With so many players among five conferences, Army and Navy, it is going to be difficult to narrow the list down and then rank them.

There are the obvious choices, of course. Kellen Moore, Tank Carder, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick all easily make the list. Where would you rank them? Who else would you put on the list? We will start with No. 25 next Monday and work our way to No. 1 in March.

Leave your suggestions either in the comments section here or the mailbag, and then we can compare when the full list is revealed. I am sure many of you will have plenty to say about my final rankings.