Why TCU coach Gary Patterson isn’t anointing a QB1 following impressive victory at Purdue

TCU coach Gary Patterson wasn’t going to anoint true freshman quarterback Max Duggan as the starting quarterback following a 34-13 victory at Purdue on Saturday night.

“No, we’re still going to have two guys play,” Patterson said. “They’re both going to play. You guys, you’re not going to get an answer all year, so that we understand.”

Duggan and fifth-year senior Alex Delton certainly didn’t light up the stat sheet. They weren’t helped by receivers dropping more passes, as this night left a lot to be desired from the passing game.

Neither quarterback seized the job. Patterson and the coaching staff surely want to see someone take the job in more dominant fashion before declaring a starter.

Signs point toward Duggan getting closer to that label, though. He played in 11 of the 14 offensive series, including the entire second half against Purdue. But he completed just 7-of-18 passes for 70 yards with a touchdown.

Patterson said Duggan has to put more touch on the ball. Yes, Duggan has a great arm, but there’s a learning curve for young quarterbacks on when it’s OK to hit a pitching wedge and put more air under the ball.

“Max is going to have to understand that he can’t always throw a fastball - holy moly,” Patterson said. “The guys probably have dents in their hands. … We’ve got to throw a catchable ball. He’ll learn all that. It’s good to win and learn from it, not lose and learn from it.”

Delton, meanwhile, had a forgettable night. He went 1-of-6 passing for 5 yards with an interception. The interception happened on the Frogs’ opening drive when Delton tried to force a pass to Dylan Thomas.

TCU stuck with Delton on the second offensive series that ended with a punt. Delton returned for a series late in the first half, leading a field goal drive. A couple penalties in the red zone hurt the Frogs’ chances for a TD on the drive.

Duggan played the rest of the way and at least started making a case for the permanent job. His teammates liked what they saw.

“I think Max played really well,” senior running back Darius Anderson said. “We all have stuff we need to work on, but he was poised. I think he played real poised. He didn’t seem nervous at all. Played real calm and relaxed.”

Added center Coy McMillon: “We like playing for Max. We like playing for all of our quarterbacks, but Max did a good job. He’s good. He was confident. He was a leader.”

Anderson and fellow senior RB Sewo Olonilua were the stars of the night. Each had 100-yard rushing games and allowed TCU to stay in control all night.

TCU’s offense had nine “explosive” plays (runs of 12-plus yards and passes of 16-plus yards) and eight were courtesy of Anderson and Olonilua. The only “explosive” passing play on the night was a 22-yard TD pass from Duggan to Al’Dontre Davis in the third quarter.

The Frogs checked in at No. 25 on Sunday afternoon in the latest Associated Press poll. TCU faces SMU next Saturday at 2:30 pm at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Other takeaways from the game --

One of the first issues Patterson mentioned in his postgame news conference was the dropped passes by TCU’s receivers. It was an issue in the season-opening victory over Arkansas- Pine Bluff, and an issue again at Purdue.

“I don’t know. You’ve got to catch it,” Patterson said.

TCU has been without two of its better receivers. Taye Barber is hopeful to return for the SMU game, while Mikel Barkley isn’t as close.

Purdue’s Jack Plummer walked into an unenviable situation making his college debut against Patterson and his defense. The Frogs held him to 13-of-29 passing for 181 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. They sacked him three times.

Sophomore safety Trevon Moehrig might’ve had the most impressive play of the game, ripping the ball away from Purdue’s standout receiver Rondale Moore for an interception in the first half.

Said Moehrig: “I wouldn’t say lucky, just a play from God. I just try to do my job and it happened.”

Patterson switched linebacker assignments for the Purdue game. Junior Garret Wallow played the middle linebacker spot, and true freshman Dee Winters made his first career start at strong side linebacker.

It worked out well. Wallow led the team in tackles once again with 10, including three for a loss, and Winters had two tackles for loss, including a sack.

True freshman cornerback Kee’yon Stewart had another solid game with four tackles and a pass breakup. Patterson has liked what he’s seen from Stewart early on this season, although senior Julius Lewis could return for the SMU game.

Senior kicker Jonathan Song is off to a strong start this season. He connected from 24- and 40- yards on Saturday night, and is now 7-of-7 on the season. For his career, Song is 23-of-24 on attempts inside 40 yards.

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