Casey Pachall discovers he's pretty tough
September, 7, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Casey Pachall, a redshirt sophomore, made his first collegiate start last Friday night at Baylor, an incredibly entertaining game, albeit a 50-48 TCU loss. It was his first start since 2008 at Brownwood High School.
Heck, the kid had only nine college pass attempts to his name entering the game.
All that was asked of him was to follow up four-year hero Andy Dalton, counter a Heisman candidate in Baylor's Robert Griffin III, uphold a 13-game overall win streak, a nation's best 25-game regular-season win streak that dated back to Pachall's senior year at Brownwood as well as an 11-game road win streak that was also best in the nation.
"Before the game I had a few little butterflies going around in my stomach," Pachall said Tuesday. "But, once the game got started everything just fell into place and I felt real comfortable."
Pachall finished his first start with exemplary numbers: 25 of 39 for 251 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The pick came on TCU's last-gasp drive with time running out and the intended receiver had been bumped off his route. He got stronger as the game progressed despite playing through calf cramps for much of the fourth quarter on a warm night in Waco, and having endured several jarring collisions.
He was 19 of 26 in the second half and 13 of 18 with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter -- when Baylor knew TCU had to put it in the air trailing 47-31 after the Frogs scored to start the final 15 minutes. TCU took the lead, 48-47, with just over four minutes to play. The go-ahead field-goal had a chance of becoming a touchdown, but Pachall's third-down pass bounced off tailback Waymon James.
Pachall said despite the loss, he came out of the game with a better understanding of his own limits. He said he had never played through the level of pain he experienced with the leg cramps, evidenced by his reaction after diving into the corner of the end zone to secure a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
"I noticed I can push through the cramping and all that stuff, and the heat, that maybe," Pachall said, "I was capable a little more than I thought I was capable of."
So now comes Game 2 for Pachall, who seems to clearly be coach Gary Patterson's main man under center, not that this was ever a point of great contention. But, prior to the opener, Patterson said he planned to play backup Matt Brown no matter how well or poorly Pachall was playing. That never happened.
Does it when the Frogs open Mountain West Conference play at Air Force Saturday afternoon? Maybe. Maybe not. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, a man Patterson so highly respects that he said he'd work for Calhoun if he ever went the assistant coach route again, probably wouldn't mess with a backup. Here's what he had to say about Pachall after watching the Baylor game film:
"He looked like a guy who had executed and played in 25 or 30 games," Calhoun said. "I think he has an absolute, beyond-NFL-caliber arm and very good mobility. Any time a guy accounts for that many touchdowns in a game it's very, very impressive."
Here's one more streak Pachall can still uphold: TCU has won 17 consecutive MWC games. It's last loss came at Utah -- 13-10 -- on Nov. 6, 2008.
*Patterson said tailback Ed Wesley's status for Saturday is uncertain. Wesley has been nursing a right shoulder injury for a couple of weeks and had just six carries for 36 yards at Baylor before sidelined for the entire second half. Patterson also did not provide a status for injured linebacker Tanner Brock.