Downfield success key for Pachall in 2013

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Casey Pachall will try to replicate his success from 2011 and lead TCU to another 10-win season.The 2013 college football season has the potential to showcase one of the greatest quarterback classes ever. Eight of the top 10 teams in last year’s final AP Poll return their starting quarterbacks, and every conference except the Big 12 returns either their first- or second-team quarterbacks from last season.

In preparation for the 2013 season, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top quarterbacks entering the fall. Thursday we take a look at TCU’s Casey Pachall.

A Look Back at 2011 & 2012

Casey Pachall begins the 2013 season somewhat off the radar after missing the final nine games of last year, but over the last two seasons he has been one of the top quarterbacks in the nation when he’s played.

Casey Pachall Passing
Since Start of 2011 Season

Pachall has completed 66 percent of his passes with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his career, and his opponent-adjusted Total QBR -- a metric that ESPN will unveil this fall -- ranks among the top 15 percent of all qualified quarterbacks since 2004.

More importantly, Pachall has a 15-2 record as a starter and TCU’s average margin of victory in those games is 20.6 points.

Before a trip to rehab ended his 2012 season in October, Pachall was leading the nation in pass efficiency and had the Horned Frogs unbeaten at 4-0 and, perhaps, on their way to a fifth-straight 10-win season.

During those four games, Pachall proved that he can throw downfield effectively. He completed two-thirds of his passes thrown at least 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage last season, which led all quarterbacks from BCS-AQ schools with at least 50 attempts.

What’s Ahead for 2013?

The first step for Pachall is to win the starting job from sophomore Trevone Boykin, who is listed as a co-starter on the end of spring depth chart.

Most believe Pachall will be named the starter in August, which leads to his next challenge, re-establishing a connection with his receivers.

TCU lost its leading receiver, Josh Boyce, to the NFL but returns its No. 2 receiver, Brandon Carter. Over the last two seasons, Pachall has completed 70 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and no interceptions when targeting Carter.

Another question mark for Pachall heading into the 2013 season is whether he can handle the tougher competition in the Big 12, as he played in only one conference game last season.

TCU in Conference Games
Last 2 Seasons

The Big 12 is not known for its defensive prowess, but TCU struggled offensively in its first year in the conference, primarily with Boykin under center.

Obviously, a large portion of TCU’s struggles were a result of injuries and suspensions, but Pachall, who has faced just three BCS-AQ opponents in his career, must be the catalyst for TCU to step up to the level of improved competition.

If Pachall can re-establish his touch and quickly adapt to the pace of play in the Big 12, there is no reason he can't replicate his 2011 success and lead the Horned Frogs to their ninth 10-win season under head coach Gary Patterson.