This hasn't been Tank Carder's easiest season. Injuries slowed him early in the year but he has turned it on and put a stamp on his resurgence with a 69-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the Horned Frogs' win over Colorado State.
Carder, a senior nearing the end of his Horned Frogs career, kept turning his head, convinced a Rams player was going to chase him down.
"I figured somebody was going to catch me, that's why I kept looking back," said Carder, who recorded his second pick-six of the season and third of his career. "I know I wasn't moving that fast. It felt real good. A pick-six is the ultimate play for any defensive player and any time you can change the momentum of the game it's big."
Carder has played his best football of the season during the Frogs' six-game winning streak after breaking a finger at Air Force on Sept. 10. He had surgery and had pins inserted in his hand before the Louisiana-Monroe game. Meanwhile, he was also coming back from shoulder surgery last winter. Tackles didn't come as often and as easily early this season, but he is healthier now and led TCU with nine tackles Saturday.
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"He wasn't tackling [as much] to protect his shoulder and his finger early and now he's starting to play like that," said TCU coach Gary Patterson, who thinks the bye week after the San Diego State game allowed Carder crucial healing time. "Since then he has really been playing awfully good. He's been the Tank of old the last five games."
TCU (9-2, 6-0 in the Mountain West), which dropped a spot to No. 20 in the BCS standings Sunday, finishes the regular season Dec. 3 against UNLV (2-8, 1-4). The Rebels host San Diego State on Saturday.
TCU will practice Tuesday and Wednesday morning before taking off a few days for Thanksgiving.
TCU fell a spot to No. 20 in the newest BCS standings, making it likely that the Horned Frogs are destined to play in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport on Dec. 26. Although the Frogs' six-game winning streak and inclusion in the Bowl Championship Series standings last week had raised hopes, a BCS berth still requires undefeated No. 8 Houston to lose next week at Tulsa or in the Conference USA championship game Dec. 3. And even with a Houston loss, the Frogs would have to jump four spots into the top 16 in the next two weeks to earn the BCS berth.
Gary Patterson isn't concerned about where the Frogs end up, saying there are "no bad bowls."
Non-automatic BCS qualifying schools -- which includes No. 7 Boise State -- must be ranked in the top 16 of the final standings released Dec. 4 and be a conference champion to earn a berth to a BCS bowl.
"Our posture on the field was bad. It was just like at Wyoming. And we won both, but you better be careful because one of these days we're going to lose one we're not supposed to. Hopefully, not this year." TCU coach Gary Patterson
DE Stansly Maponga: He forced his fifth fumble of the season Saturday, the most since Jerry Hughes led the nation with six in 2008.
BCS formula: Instead of penalizing TCU for a 24-point win over Colorado State, maybe the standings could have taken into account that the Frogs won handily despite sleepwalking through most of the game.
Up next: UNLV at No. 20 TCU, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Versus