You could say Saturday’s result when the Horned Frogs crushed the Aztecs was to be expected. That doesn’t make the loss any easier to swallow though for Aztec fans, or for that matter any less sweet for the boys from Texas.
What did surprise me from the stands at “The ‘Q” was seeing just how much bigger, stronger, and faster the young men from Texas were than the San Diego surfers. The overall talent level shown by TCU far surpasses that of any other Mountain West Conference team, in my opinion.
The people I watched the game did not who TCU QB Andy Dalton was before the game. Afterwards, they were wondering if he is going to be drafted this year, and he’s only a junior.
Dalton was as accurate as any quarterback I’ve watched all year. He fired the ball around the yard with precision and touch. He made quick, smart reads and controlled the defense by keeping them off balance.
Plus, he showcased some wheels that haven’t been seen from a QB on that field since SDSU QB Kevin O’Connell two whole seasons ago. Dalton seems to have the size, smarts, and leadership ability to play himself into the top of the draft next season.
The entire TCU offensive line was gigantic, and outweighed the SDSU defensive front line quite easily. Despite their size, they were quicker and more athletic as well. Several times on screens or off tackle type runs you would see one of those big offensive tackles operating fluidly in space and making a key block to spring a long run the TCU Running Back.
And when Andy Dalton dropped back to pass, good night! He was never touched, or at least it seemed that way.
The Aztecs lone defensive prospect, linebacker Luke Laologi, was pretty much neutralized because of the great line play and a well-called game. The few times I spotted him, he was struggling to shed blockers, which is probably why he finished with only five tackles.
When the Aztecs possessed the ball, which is was rare, Jerry Hughes showed me a little something. No, he did not notch a sack in this contest, but he was firm against the run, showed good athleticism to be able to move around in space, and good recognition on a three-step drop to get his hands up and knock a pass down. Scouts will be just as, if not more impressed with those things than him dominating some poor tackle who had no chance anyway.
The other player I made sure to keep an eye on was SDSU Senior WR DeMarco Sampson who has come on very strong since Junior WR Vincent Brown left the lineup with an injury. Sampson showed he can run with TCU, and showed tremendous ball skills to come back to underthrown passes.
He did fumble once when he tried to make something happen. I’m not going to knock him too much for that though, given that his team needed a big play, and nobody else was going to make it happen.
All in all, despite the lopsided score, I saw some positive strides being made by Brady Hoke’s squad. But I was also very impressed with TCU. They are well-coached and have as much talent as any team, this side of the SEC or Big-12, plus a few others. In my opinion, they are worthy of not only a BCS Bowl, but should Texas slip, they seem to be a realistic contender for the National Championship Game. They are that good.