Before he threw his first pass as TCU's starting quarterback, Casey Pachall never doubted himself, no matter how many times someone asked him about following Andy Dalton.
He didn't doubt his receiving corps, despite its thinned experience with the losses of five seniors.
And that offensive line that was stuck with a tight-end-turned-right-tackle and inexperience up and down the depth chart? Pachall wasn't fazed in August. At least he didn't show his hand to the media.
Four weeks into his first season as the Horned Frogs' quarterback, the sophomore remains the low-key, confident spokesman for the offense, sounding the same as he did before the opener at Baylor.
"Everything is running smooth," Pachall said. "I feel comfortable on the field and off the field."
Pachall has made the transition into the starting role look shockingly easy. After four games, the offensive numbers are barely behind Dalton's offense a year ago, when the Frogs were loaded with senior receivers and had three healthy running backs. Ed Wesley will play against SMU (3-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium. He has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury, but Waymon James and Matthew Tucker have kept the No. 20 Frogs' running game potent.
"Having him back will be tremendous," Pachall said. "With Waymon and Tuck getting so many carries they get a little winded at times, so having all three of them with fresh legs, it's just another attacker, because all three are powerful runners. To add one to the arsenal is pretty good."
TCU (3-1) has scored 35 or more points in each of the first four games for the first time since 2004 and is averaging 44 points and 437.2 yards a game. That's just half a point and 22.3 yards fewer than last year.
"Our offensive coaches have done a great job," TCU coach Gary Patterson said last week. "If you look at what we lost you have to be happy with the way our offense is scoring points and playing against three different styles of defenses and putting points on the board. That usually means you have a group that's in sync with what they're doing. They don't have to catch up to the speed of the game. That's one thing our defense is not doing."
That cohesion comes from a family atmosphere inside the huddle, said left guard Kyle Dooley, who leads the team with 31 starts.
He's not surprised the offensive line has held opponents to just four sacks, despite counting on reserves while starters dealt with illness and injury through the first four games.
"We're all real good friends," he said. "It's a lot of brothers; there are a lot of best friends inside the huddle together."
The success has bred confidence in each other, especially in their quarterback, who never wavered all along.
"Casey is just making really great decisions in the pocket, he's getting rid of the ball when he needs to and he'll take a hit when he needs to," Dooley said.
Pachall is even sounding like Dalton after games, calling out his perceived mental lapses against Louisiana-Monroe and Portland State.
"I got a little relaxed just because of the teams we were playing," Pachall said. "It's completely my fault, not anybody else's. It's not a lack of preparation. I quickly got that out of my head and got after it."
But his productivity the last two weeks doesn't reflect a letdown. He's thrown for 204 and 214 yards and completed a combined 29 of 43 passes with four touchdowns and an interception. Even with reserves such as center Eric Tausch starting for James Fry against Portland State, Pachall has remained protected.
"It's giving me the confidence knowing I can stand in there no matter who is in and keep making my reads," he said. "I trust any of those guys who come in."