TCU Win Doesn't Come Easy!

A full report from BigPurpleNation.com Staff Writer Brent Shirley!

With 5:30 left in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game between TCU and Stanford, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton dropped back to pass on a first-and-ten from the Stanford 27. TCU had the lead, 21-14, but several mistakes allowed Stanford to stay in the game. TCU needed a score to seal a victory. Dalton went through his progressions, but none of his receivers were open, so he took off. A seam opened up, and he cut up the middle of the field. When he met a Stanford linebacker, he ripped a spin move that would make any tailback jealous. He dashed all the way to the Stanford 8-yard line before a Stanford player brought him down, a 19-yard run. Dalton jumped up from the turf and waved his arms to the TCU fans who are still braving driving wind and rain. The crowd went crazy in response to Dalton's frenzied motions.

TCU came away with a field goal from that possession, but that was the point when it seemed Dalton, and everyone else in the stadium, knew Stanford wasn't coming back. The Frogs went on to score another touchdown (on another Dalton run with 1:05 left) to make the final 31-14. TCU safety Steven Coleman said Dalton's fired up play inspired the team all game long.

"Andy is a veteran to us," Coleman said. "He played as a freshman, and he learned a lot in all of the games he played in. Now he's playing like a senior or junior. That's how we expect him to play, and that's how he's played so far."

The game was much closer than it should have been. The Frogs' poor special teams' play was the equalizer Saturday, not the weather. The biggest mistake came in the second quarter when Stanford's Richar Sherman returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, evening the score 14-14.

"We tried to give it away on special teams," said TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson. "That was one part of the game that I wasn't impressed with, any phase of it. Any of them: kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return. We've got to step up our level of intensity."

At the start of the fourth quarter, TCU punter Anson Kelter punted from his own end zone. Doug Baldwin returned the ball for an apparent game-tying touchdown. As the Frogs defense prepared to run out onto the field for the extra point, the defensive leaders gathered the team.

"We got together, and we felt we could block the field goal," Coleman said. "We had been watching some things on film, and we saw a weakness. We got together, and we said ‘hey, we're going to keep the lead, and we're going to block it.'"

They didn't need to block the attempt, when an officials' review showed Baldwin stepped out at the TCU 13-yard line. Three plays later, Coleman intercepted Stanford quarterback Tavi Prichard's third-and-nine pass in the end zone.

"The overturned call, saying he stepped out, and then the interception in the end zone, gave us momentum," Dalton said. "I thought that was the big turning point in the game."

The TCU defense was solid, only giving up 193 yards to Stanford (71 rushing). The Frogs also had several plays where they brought down Stanford's bruising 6'1", 228 pound junior running back Toby Gerhart in short yardage situations. The last fourth down stop led to the drive when Dalton ran to Stanford's 8-yard line.

"The two fourth-and-short stops were big," Patterson said. "That was probably the change in the game (the last fourth down stop). It gave us a short field, and we were able to go down and kick a field goal. Then it was a two score game. I thought that was a big turn."

The road won't get easier for the Frogs. Next week, they will play in a hostile environment at SMU. Then it is on to Norman, Oklahoma to play the Sooners who will have next week off to prepare.


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