He was a three-time MVP in bowl games. He led his team to an undefeated 13-0 record in 2010, and in his four years posted a 42-7 record, the most wins among all active college quarterbacks last season. He broke the school records of quarterbacks like Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh. He also might be the most unrecognized college quarterback in the 2011 draft by NFL fans north of the Mason-Dixon line.
TCU signal caller Andy Dalton had a wildly successful college career, but he often gets little credit since for three of his four years he had the nation’s number one defense wearing the same jersey. The Horned Frogs were the number one defense in the country from 2008-2010.
While it’s true that defense afforded TCU’s offense more opportunities with the football, and often allowed them to play with a lead, Dalton still had to be an effective trigger man.
Dalton however, was saddled with labels like ‘game manager.’ Come his senior season the red-headed quarterback showed he along with the TCU offense was a much more important part of the Horned Frogs’ success than people thought.
Completing over 66 percent of his passes while throwing for over 2,600 yards with 26 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, Dalton and the offense proved themselves in 2010.
“I think we definitely did,” Dalton told Buffalobills.com. “This year and last year we were able to accomplish a lot offensively. That’s what we took going into last year and this year is the defense has been getting all the recognition and it was our turn to get a little bit so we took that attitude and I think it showed in the way we played.”
TCU ranked fourth nationally in scoring at better than 43 points per game last season (43.3). Dalton’s sharp decision making was reflected in his passer efficiency rating of 167, good for fifth best in the nation, and the second straight season in which he ranked in the top 10. And Dalton saved some of his best single-game performances against TCU’s stiffest competition.
Against then No. 5 ranked Utah, Dalton threw for a career-high 355 yards on 21-26 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 47-7 whitewash of the Utes.
Dalton also closed out his career with a win in which he carried the TCU offense on his back with a 15-23 passing performance for 219 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for another score. The statistics weren’t eye-popping, but his quick reads and deadly accuracy were the difference in the Horned Frogs Rose Bowl 21-19 win over a strong defensive Wisconsin unit that pointed to Dalton as the reason TCU won the game.
“Great way to end my career,” Dalton said. “I was able to accomplish a lot during my time at TCU. Obviously we would have liked a chance at the National Championship Game, but there wasn't a better way to end it than to win the Rose Bowl.”
Like a lot of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft pool, Dalton comes from a spread attack, but unlike some other signal callers, being a four-year starter he was entrusted with a lot more responsibilities like calling audibles at the line.
“I understand the game really well,” he said. “TCU put a lot on me. I knew a lot which allowed them to put a lot on me. I got to go out and show them how much I knew about the game of football not only about defenses but protections and everything it takes to play quarterback. And hopefully (NFL clubs) will see that I'm a winner, I didn't lose very many ball games, I can't stand to lose. All my hard work is to win ball games.”
The hang ups that some NFL scouts seem to have with Dalton is his less than elite arm strength knowing the windows for quarterbacks to throw into are considerably smaller in the NFL. It’s why certain draft analysts believe Dalton is best suited for a West Coast offense.
“Andy Dalton just got better and better each and every year and I think it was just the byproduct of getting more and more reps and playing,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay. “Any west coast offense quarterback you can compare with Dalton. I think Colt McCoy is a good comparison for Andy Dalton in terms of size and mobility.”
Dalton also played under Bills head coach Chan Gailey at the Senior Bowl for the South Team back in January, and Buffalo’s sideline boss doesn’t see arm strength being an issue.
“He was a very impressive young man,” Gailey said. “I enjoyed being around him as a person and he did some good things as a quarterback. His comfort level at the Senior Bowl was not as good as when you watched the tape. If you watched the college tape he did some really good things, but I didn’t see it there at the Senior Bowl probably because he didn’t know the offense and wasn’t comfortable with the receivers yet, but you watch him make throws at TCU last year and he has a strong arm. He’s a good quarterback, I know that.”
At this point Dalton knows he can only stand on what he’s done and with a college resume considerably longer than most quarterbacks in the draft class, NFL clubs can be confident in what they’re getting in him.
“I'm a smart quarterback, I work really hard, I'm a perfectionist,” he said. “I can make all the throws and I think I've shown that over my time. I feel like I have been able to play in a lot of big games and hopefully that will help me. Every game in the NFL is a big game. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win ball games and to be a winner and to push myself to be the best I can be. That's all I can do. If I can go out and be the best then that's all I can do.”
Throughout the month of April, we are running 2011 NFL Draft prospect stories each week. In addition, Bills fans can vote in the Bills and M&T Bank Draft Day Challenge who they think will be the Bills first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and have the chance to win a Bills Game Day Experience to remember. Five grand prize winners will get sideline passes, M&T Bank Club tickets that include food and beverage, a Bills Alumni meet and greet and a Bills helmet. Click here to vote.