TCU is starting to see some separation in its quarterback race.
Kansas State transfer Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan are beginning to pull away from the pack, coach Gary Patterson said on Wednesday following the Frogs’ second scrimmage of fall camp.
Asked what QBs are separating themselves, Patterson said: “Max and Alex. ... Both of them, I’m really excited about how we threw the deep ball. We [the defense] got hurt a couple times in the red zone by the offense this morning.”
Delton still appears to be the odds-on favorite to start for TCU when it opens the season against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Aug. 31. But Duggan, the son of a longtime high school football coach in Council Bluffs, Iowa, has handled himself well.
Junior Mike Collins had been in the mix, too, but has lost ground with a foot injury that has kept him out of multiple practices. Collins hasn’t taken part in a scrimmage yet, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready to go when the Frogs scrimmage again on Saturday.
Patterson didn’t reveal a timeline on when Collins may return to practice, simply saying: “When he gets healthy.”
Collins’ injury has meant more reps for Delton, Duggan and redshirt freshman Justin Rogers. But Delton and Duggan are getting the majority of reps with the first- and second-teams, and have taken advantage of it.
“They’re not in the NFL yet, all I’m saying is they’re throwing the ball well,” Patterson said. “They just want their reps. They don’t care who they go in with. They were doing some with the 3s today. They didn’t care as long as they’re getting their reps. That’s what a coach wants.”
Patterson went on to rave about what he’s seen from the running game, as well as mentioning the quarterbacks and receiving corps having a much better chemistry compared to last season.
The quarterback battle isn’t expected to be settled for another week or so, and Delton and Duggan would seem like natural fits for the offense.
Delton, a fifth-year senior, would give the Frogs an experienced signal caller on an offense that simply needs someone to manage it properly.
The Frogs should be able to establish a running game behind offensive tackles Lucas Niang and Anthony McKinney, as well as running backs Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson. Plus, receiver Jalen Reagor is a home-run threat anytime he touches the ball.
Similarly, the experienced offensive line and running game would bode well for a freshman such as Duggan. Duggan would not feel pressure to do too much right off the bat.
At the end of the day, Patterson and the coaching staff will go with whoever they feel gives them the best opportunity to win.
Delton is coming off a season in which he played in seven games, including starts against Texas and Kansas, and finished 44 of 80 passing for 554 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. In his career at K-State, Delton was 96 of 171 passing (56.1 completion percentage) for 1,202 yards with five TDs and four interceptions.
Delton also rushed for 868 yards on 213 carries with 11 TDs in his time at K-State.
Those numbers may not jump off the page, but Delton and TCU believe his best playing days are ahead.
Duggan, meanwhile, was the No. 3-rated dual-threat quarterback in the country. The four-star recruit is coming off a season in which he threw for more than 2,100 yards and 24 touchdowns, as well as rushing for 1,200 yards.