Chances Gary Patterson has his first-ever true freshman start at QB for season opener

TCU football cranks up the heat during practice at fall camp

Texas Christian University football team hit the field hard for Day 2 of fall camp in Fort Worth.
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Texas Christian University football team hit the field hard for Day 2 of fall camp in Fort Worth.

TCU has never opened a season with a true freshman starting at quarterback in the Gary Patterson era.

Max Duggan could change that.

The freshman out of Council Bluffs, Iowa is being given a fair chance to win the job, although he faces an uphill battle to knock off odds-on favorite Alex Delton. Junior Mike Collins is another strong contender in the QB mix, as well as redshirt freshman Justin Rogers.

But Duggan has a chance even though he’s a true freshman.

“If he’s the best player, then he’ll go out there,” co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said last week. “He had a spring where he progressively got better. He’ll definitely be in the mix.”

Duggan, a four-star recruit, is coming off a season in which he threw for more than 2,100 yards and 24 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,200 yards at Lewis Central. He is from a football family as his dad, Jim, was a longtime high school coach before retiring after Max’s senior season.

Patterson said before the start of fall camp that he’d been “highly impressed” by Duggan early on.

But the key for all of the quarterbacks is not to press and try to be too perfect during fall camp. That might be the biggest hurdle for a freshman like Duggan.

Yes, the reps are somewhat limited because of the number of candidates going for the job, but TCU’s coaching staff will base the decision on the full body of work.

“There’s a certain sense as a quarterback, ‘I may only get three to six reps,’” Cumbie said. “But they can’t think, ‘I’ve got three reps to win the job.’ The job is not going to be won in three practices, in three plays, in one play. It’s the consistency. It’s the body of work they put forth throughout fall camp.

“That’s what they have to really focus on. It’s a challenge.”

TCU has had five fall camp practices so far, taking Wednesday off. The first scrimmage is Saturday, and the feeling is Delton remains the favorite.

Collins and Duggan appear to be the two pushing Delton the most to this point. For his part, Duggan isn’t backing down even though he’s a freshman.

He continues to make a seamless transition from high school to college. Just ask those in the QB room.

“I’ve been impressed,” Collins said. “He’s come in and worked hard. He’s been a great addition to the room.”

Said Delton: “Me and Max have gotten really close, we came in basically the same time. Max is a mature freshman. He’s a great kid, man. I think the world of Max. He’s talented. He’s a Midwestern kid, too, so you see that. I see that in just how he handles himself.

“I think he’ll have a bright future here at TCU. I’m excited for him. He’s one of the guys that I’ll stay in contact with long after I’m done here at TCU.”

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