Swarming Defense Keeps Frogs Rolling Along

By PAT GRAHAM
|  Monday, Oct 4, 2010  |  Updated 9:15 AM CDT
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Iron Skillet Battle 2010

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TCU head coach Gary Patterson.

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TCU quarterback Andy Dalton pays little attention to rankings and even less to personal records.

The senior is rewriting the school's record book, passing another mark seemingly each week. Maybe down the road he'll appreciate his accomplishments.

Just not now.

"I'm not worried about all the records, just trying to win as many ball games as I can," Dalton said after No. 5 TCU relied heavily on its defense in a 27-0 win over Colorado State on Saturday.

That's precisely the approach coach Gary Patterson preaches. Focus on the task at hand, not anything else.

"Each game counts one," Dalton said. "You've got to take it a game at a time."

Sounds exactly like something his coach might instruct him to say.

"He's done a good job with me," Dalton said, grinning.

Dalton became the school's outright leader in career touchdown passes with his 39-yard scoring strike to Jimmy Young in the fourth quarter. After the game, he greeted the news of his accomplishment with barely a shrug of the shoulders.

But raising his win total to a school-best 34? That's one mark Dalton remains quite fond of.

"The main one I'm focused on," he said.

Dalton and the offense didn't look all that crisp against the Rams, holding a 6-0 lead at halftime before breaking the game open in the second half on two touchdown runs by Ed Wesley.

Until the offense ignited, the Frogs (5-0, 1-0 Mountain West) depended on their swarming defense, who limited the Rams (1-4, 0-1) to 161 total yards and only eight first downs.

"I told Gary after the game that we could have played until midnight and we wouldn't have scored," Rams coach Steve Fairchild said. "All the credit in the world goes to TCU."

Not that Patterson was particularly pleased with the performance.

"Down the road if we play that way in a place like Utah, we aren't going to win a conference championship," Patterson cautioned. "When you go on the road, you've got to have attention to detail."

Last week, the voters dropped the Frogs a spot in the AP poll after a 17-point win over SMU.

This time, it was Boise State who tumbled a position, falling to No. 4 despite a 59-0 rout of reeling New Mexico State.

Even winning big doesn't always guarantee anything for hopeful BCS busters such as Boise State and TCU. That's why Patterson doesn't emphasize style points, just wins.

"As close as it is in college football, you need to make sure that you go win, because that's the only thing we have control over," Patterson said. "We don't have control over the audience, the media or anybody else that decides all of that other stuff."

TCU's players tend to toe the line, buying into Patterson's belief that nothing can be gained from glancing ahead.

Still, it's hard to resist the temptation, especially with a game at 10th-ranked Utah looming in a month.

But first there are contests against Wyoming, BYU, No. 25 Air Force and UNLV.

"I try not to" look ahead," said sophomore linebacker Tanner Brock, who finished with a career-high 10 tackles against CSU. "You get a little excited. ... You're always looking ahead for those big games."

Brock quickly caught his emotions.

"If we just keep winning our ball games and putting on a show like (Saturday), it will work for us," he said. "You like being ranked up high. At the same time, none of that matters until the end of the season."

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