Casey Pachall is no Andy Dalton. But that's OK.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback who will likely start his first game for TCU on Sept. 2 at Baylor has become used to the questions regarding Dalton, his Horned Frogs predecessor under center for the last four years. Wednesday, as Pachall and several teammates, along with coach Gary Patterson, met with the media, the questions again hit Pachall.
"Since [Dalton] has been gone, I haven't worried about filling his shoes," said Pachall, who begins his first fall camp as the No. 1 quarterback when TCU opens practice at 4 today. "I'm going to do what I have to do for this team. I can't try to be him. I'm just going to be me. I'm not too worried about replacing him or living up to his expectations."
That's probably the smartest way to go for Pachall, and he's been coached to be himself on the field. But Patterson is still concerned about the kind of leader Pachall needs to become.
During his nearly 30-minute news conference with the media, Patterson touted the leadership of the Frogs' true freshman quarterback, Trevone Boykin, and the maturity of Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, who bought a Broncos playbook online and learned it before attending Boise State five years ago.
"That is a guy on a mission," Patterson said of Moore. "That is what I'm talking about. You're looking for guys who are on a mission."
Patterson tried to spread the responsibility around, suggesting that Pachall is not the only player who needs to show some leadership on and off the field.
"It's not just him, all of them," Patterson said. "How do you act when I'm not around? All athletes have to be able to handle the grind. Most of them know how to handle coaches on the field, [but] do you go to bed at night? Do you get your sleep? Do you eat right? Do you study?"
Pachall has shown, to a degree, that he has the skills to make plays. He had a good spring and says he has grown up since January, when he became the Frogs' next starting quarterback.
"I am ready," Pachall said. "I am ready to be the guy that everybody looks to when things are good or bad. [The comparison to Dalton] doesn't bother me. It just gives me incentive and a little bit more motivation to be more of a leader and get more in that role."
Pachall says he has never been a vocal leader, even at Brownwood High School, where he was a highly recruited four-star passer.
"I feel like I'm more of a lead-by-example guy," he said. "My entire life I've never been outspoken and vocal. I just work hard and do things through my actions.
"But now I'm going to have to start being a little bit more vocal for the new guys coming in who haven't been around me as long. They maybe need to hear something out of me."
Patterson said that, physically, Pachall is further along than Dalton when he took over as a redshirt freshman in 2007. "He owns the offense a lot better than Andy Dalton did when he took over," Patterson said. "Will he own the leadership role?"
Pachall's teammates think he has what it takes.
"That's what our coaches are for," running back Ed Wesley said. "What he lacks mentally, I'm sure the slack is going to be picked up athletically, because the guy is special. I think it's going to be exciting to see that guy flourish and make plays because I know there are so many plays he's capable of making with his feet and his arm... a lot of people don't know about yet."
Offensive lineman Jeff Olson says it comes down to trust between teammates.
"Everybody has to trust each other," Olson said. "You have to understand that the guy next to you is going to hold the rope. Casey is a different person than Andy. Andy is a one-of-a-kind individual, but at the same time, Casey is a one-of-a-kind individual. I feel like he can be the same kind of leader, or at least similar, to what Andy was."
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