TCU coach Gary Patterson isn’t ready to label true freshman Max Duggan the starting quarterback quite yet.
But Patterson acknowledged that the No. 25-ranked Frogs could go with Duggan as the starter over fifth-year senior Alex Delton going into Saturday’s game against SMU. Delton has started the first two games with Duggan coming off the bench.
Asked if that rotation could change on the Big 12 football coaches teleconference, Patterson said: “Maybe.
“If we see a guy’s in rhythm and he’s moving and they’re doing well, then we stay with the guy. We have to start games faster. We’ll see how practice goes this week and see how we need to determine that.”
Those statements would point toward Duggan possibly getting the nod over Delton.
Duggan was the quarterback on 11 of 14 offensive series in TCU’s 34-13 victory at Purdue on Saturday. He took all but one snap in the second half, going to the sidelines when the Frogs went into the “WildFrog” formation with Sewo Olonilua taking a direct snap on a 1-yard TD run late in the third quarter.
Additionally, TCU has gotten off to slower than desired starts with Delton. Delton threw an interception on the opening drive at Purdue, and then TCU picked up just one first down before punting on Delton’s second series.
In the season-opening 39-7 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Delton started but Duggan led every TD drive.
But Patterson continued to praise the positive impact Delton has made.
“One way or the other, Alex Delton has done an unbelievable job of coming in here,” Patterson said. “He’ll always be a team captain at the end of the year. He’s been one of the reasons why I think we’ve had a great chemistry and done a lot of things. He’s added more than just throwing passes to TCU’s football team.”
Through two games, Delton is 11-of-28 passing for 124 yards with no TDs and one interception. He’s rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries.
Duggan, meanwhile, is 23-of-41 passing for 235 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. He’s also rushed for a TD.
Patterson has liked what he’s seen early on from Duggan, but reiterated that Duggan has to understand that a fastball isn’t necessary on every throw. It’s a similar issue Andy Dalton had early in his TCU career.
“We overthrew balls and we threw balls too hard,” Patterson said. “We’ve had quarterbacks through the years that have been the same way. They’ve got to learn how to throw it.”
But Duggan is taking strides in that department. Patterson felt one of Duggan’s best passes was hitting a wide open Al’Dontre Davis for a 22-yard TD in the third quarter that put TCU up 20-6.
“For a freshman, that was a great throw,” Patterson said. “Usually you might still overthrow because you’re so excited that a guy’s wide open. That shows you that he was a coach’s son. He’s been a lot more mature than what a lot of people give him credit for.”
Curing the drops
Duggan and Delton have both seen multiple receivers drop catchable passes through the first two games.
Patterson didn’t sugarcoat his concern level.
“Yes, always concerned when you have drops,” Patterson said. “Guys, you’re going to get hit anyways, so you’ve got to make tough catches. For us, someone has to decide to become the go-to guy.”
▪ Patterson and his staff started working on Purdue in the spring and it paid off with the big road win. Said Patterson: “Our kids did a great job. It’s really easy to play defense when your offense holds it for 40 minutes. That’s the best defense I know -- standing on the sidelines.”
▪ TCU is an early 9 1/2-point favorite over SMU. Patterson on the rivalry game: “It’s a big ballgame. It doesn’t matter what the points are in this ballgame. It’s a crosstown rival and you’ve got to get ready to play.”
▪ The Big 12 announced an 11 a.m. start time for TCU-Kansas on Sept. 28 at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).