TCU’s quarterback situation remains unsettled for now.
Fifth-year senior Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan are expected to split snaps once again at Purdue on Saturday, coach Gary Patterson said. But Patterson expects Delton or Duggan to eventually seize the job.
“I expect at some point in time it’ll be very obvious who the guy is who should take most of the snaps,” Patterson said earlier this week.
Delton and Duggan each had their moments — good and bad — in the season-opening 39-7 victory over Arkansas- Pine Bluff.
TCU had 10 explosive plays on the day (co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie defines explosive plays as 12-plus yard runs and 16-plus yard passes), and Delton and Duggan each were the QB on five apiece.
Patterson seemed pleased with the number of explosive plays, and feels it will only grow when receivers such as Taye Barber and Mikel Barkley are fully healthy.
“Explosive players make explosive plays,” Patterson said.
It starts with the QB play, and Delton and Duggan will get another opportunity.
Delton finished 10 of 22 passing for 119 yards, although wasn’t helped with receivers dropping multiple passes. He flashed his running ability, leading the team with 67 yards rushing on seven carries.
Duggan was 16 of 23 passing for 165 yards with one TD. He was the quarterback on all three TD drives by the Frogs.
Whether it’s Delton or Duggan, the players are on board.
Asked about Delton, left guard Cordel Iwuagwu said: “You could tell Alex is a more veteran player with the command of the offense, just cause he’s had triple Max’s reps over time in college football. But they both do a great job leading the offense.”
As far as Duggan, Iwuagwu said: “Max did great. I remember him coming in his first play, yelling at everybody to get down. All I could do is smile because that’s the guy who was real quiet when he first got here. But I like how everyone has welcomed him in and he’s doing great.”
Other things to watch going into the game:
TCU’s pass D
Patterson raved about Purdue coach Jeff Brohm all week. Brohm is one of the brightest offensive minds in the country, turning a Purdue program that ranked near the bottom in the Big Ten in total offense into one of the conference’s best.
It’s safe to say that Purdue is a pass-happy team, throwing it 52 times in each of its first two games. The good news for TCU is it ranked as the Big 12’s top pass defense the past two seasons.
“Let me tell you this — I won’t be surprised if they throw it 60 to 70 times before it’s done,” Patterson said on his weekly radio show Thursday night. “It’ll be an interesting night. We’ll all be tired.”
Patterson said TCU will be ready for whoever starts at quarterback for Purdue. Boilermakers fifth-year senior Elijah Sindelar (concussion) will be a “game time” decision. If Sindelar can’t go, redshirt freshman Jack Plummer will make his first career start.
Red zone matters
TCU had seven trips to the red zone against UAPB, but settled for five field goals. That has to improve going forward, and Patterson is optimistic it will.
The Frogs ran a fairly vanilla offense in the red zone, not sending guys in motion and things of that nature, so time will tell how good it is.
TCU spent part of its off week working on its red zone offense.
“We did a little bit of it,” Patterson said. “It’s a really hard place to do when you get into the season because that’s a very physical 20 yards. But we did red zone stuff. The thing I think is going to help us is we didn’t run a lot of our red zone offense.”
Iwuagwu gave a pointed assessment of the offensive line play in the season opener.
“We didn’t play as good as I hoped,” Iwuagwu said. “We might’ve played decent, but that’s not the standard here. We’ve got to play way better honestly.”
The offensive line remains a work in progress with three new starters in left tackle Quazzel White, center Coy McMillon and right guard David Bolisomi. Iwuagwu is getting back in the swing of things to a certain extent himself, missing eight games with an injury last season.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Iwuagwu said of his injury-plagued season. “Week after week, I’m trying to force myself to get in there and play. But I wasn’t feeling the best to be out there and perform well. I feel great now.”
Pass rush, please
TCU registered two sacks in the opener, although no pass rusher accounted for them. Linebacker Garret Wallow and defensive tackle Ross Blacklock each had one.
But pass rush is something that usually gets better as the season goes on. TCU didn’t have its first sack last season until its third game against Ohio State.
“There are three ways you get sacks,” Patterson said. “Either you have the people with the ability with people to do it themselves, you have to do it within the scheme, or you have to manufacture them. That’s what I told them. If you guys don’t want me twisting you and doing all these different things, then what you have to do is you have to show me that you can run by people on your own.”
Senior cornerback Julius Lewis is expected to miss his second straight game with an injury. Patterson is hopeful that Lewis will be ready to return for the SMU game on Sept. 21.
So that means true freshman Kee’yon Stewart is expected to make his second start at cornerback.
Offensively, the Frogs will be without Barkley again, Patterson said on his radio show Thursday night. If Barber plays, it will be on a limited pitch count.
“Hopefully we have enough firepower to get by Purdue,” Patterson said.