Defense wins championships, but not turning the ball over helps. The Horned Frogs will look to improve both in 2008.
“When you’re in close ball games you can’t turn over the ball,” Coach Patterson told BigPurupleNation.com. “If you look at the last four out of five that we won….I think we only had one or two interceptions.”
While only one or two interceptions in the last couple games helped TCU’s turnover margin, the Horned Frogs were still upside down. In 2005 when TCU went 11-1, their turnover margin was +21. In 2006, an 11-2 year, the margin was +7. So it should come to no surprise that last year when the Horned Frogs had a –7 turnover margin (100th in the nation) their record dipped to 8-5.
With a year under his belt, sophomore quarterback Andy Dalton’s touchdown to interception rate should go down. Eight of Dalton’s eleven interceptions last year came in his first eight games. He rushed for over 200 yards and added four scores in TCU's final four. With an upperclassman line that should buy him loads of time and plenty of athletes to target, the sophomore will do his part this season to improve the margin. In addition, having a healthy Aaron Brown back at the running back position should take pressure off of him on early downs.
Dalton is not the only one that will factor into the equation. After finishing 15th in the nation in total defense, TCU should be great again, but that doesn’t mean there is not room for improvement. The TCU coaching staff wants its defense to force more takeaways. “It was a big selling point all spring. We got to get the ball back,” said Coach Patterson. The Horned Frogs only had twenty-one takeaways last season. In 2005 and 2006, when TCU had a combined record of 22-3, the defense forced sixty-six turnovers.
TCU has the experience and weapons to get back to a double digit win season and contend for the Mountain West. Unlike in previous years, the focus is not on them to be atop of the conference.