Ten thousand, three-hundred and fourteen passing yards. Seventy-one touchdowns. The winningest record in TCU history. Two BCS appearances and a Rose Bowl victory. There’s no doubt that within five years, Andy Dalton will see a banner rise to the rafters as his number 14 is retired in a future halftime ceremony.
Having said that, Casey Pachall has a huge set of shoes to fill as the next quarterback for the Horned Frogs.
Granted, Pachall is a four star recruit out of the Big Country area of Texas. He’s a dual threat quarterback who will do great things. The question remains though: How will Pachall get out of Dalton’s shadow?
His current team won’t make it easy. With receiving options like Jeremy Kerley, Jimmy Young and Bart Johnson all graduating, alongside with offensive linemen like Jake Kirkpatrick and Marcus Cannon, the redshirt freshman will lack the weapons that Dalton had. Antoine Hicks and Josh Boyce still have developing to do and the offensive line will feature four new starters. Pachall will have to mature quickly in order to be an effective leader of the new generation of Frogs.
It doesn’t help either that the schedule for TCU will be a nightmare.
With Texas Tech backing out of the picture and TCU spending their last year in the Mountain West, an undefeated season will be the only way that the Frogs make it to their third straight BCS appearance. That’s a difficult task to ask of for any underclassman.
It gets even harder when you have to ask him to lead his team to victory over the Boise State Broncos in Boise. That game will be loud, obnoxious and ugly, but enough about the smurf blue playing field.
Kellen Moore will be returning with a veteran leadership, as will a mean defensive line. All-WAC players Shea McClellin and Billy Winn will be back, ready to tear up anyone they wish. Chris Petersen is almost unstoppable in Boise and asking a younger quarterback like Pachall to conquer such an environment will be difficult.
Pachall has less weapons and less time to mature than Dalton did. Pachall has more demands to fulfill than Dalton did. Expectations are high and the margin for error will be slim.
It’s no question that Andy Dalton will go down in TCU lore as one of the greatest players to ever enter Amon G. Carter stadium. If Casey Pachall, however, delivers on everything that he needs to in 2011, expect his name to be forever remembered.