‘He’s been the best one of the group.’ TCU remains all-in with QB Max Duggan

TCU is not going to make a quarterback change anytime soon.

True freshman Max Duggan remains the best option to get the offense going in the right direction, coach Gary Patterson said.

“As far as practice and everything else, he’s been the best one of the group,” Patterson said on the Big 12 football coaches teleconference on Monday.

“It’s pretty simple. We like eating, paying our bills but at the end of the day you evaluate the guy you’re going to play with that you feel gives you the best chance to win. That’s the reason why we’re playing Max because he’s giving us a chance to win.”

TCU has lost consecutive road games as it returns home to face Texas on Saturday. Part of the problem has been the passing game with the Frogs averaging their fewest yards (202) through the air in more than a decade.

Duggan has gotten off to slower than desired starts in each of the last two games. The offense hasn’t scored in the first quarter in each game, forcing the Frogs to play from behind.

Against Kansas State, Duggan opened just 5-of-11 passing for 33 yards in the first half. Against Iowa State in the first half, Duggan went 5-of-10 passing for 23 yards.

Asked about the passing game struggles, Patterson pointed to K-State having the Big 12’s top-ranked passing defense.

But, Patterson added, “We also missed some reads. We had [Jalen] Reagor open down the middle of the field, wide open, he beat his guy. We had set the play up to do it and a young quarterback’s got to keep seeing those things.

“We keep progressing as we go. We had an opportunity to win. I think that’s the biggest thing. We just need to keep moving forward.”

Moving forward with Duggan, that is. Fifth-year senior Alex Delton has played sparingly since losing the starting job after the first two games, and junior Mike Collins has appeared just once this season.

Duggan remains the top option and, despite his struggles at times, has yet to throw an interception. He’s also shown enough to warrant optimism for the future and has garnered praise from opposing coaches.

“Pretty impressive for a true freshman,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “He’s a guy that the stage does not seem too big. Obviously I think as an offensive staff, they’ve done a nice job of keeping the packages relatively limited. It’s still difficult to defend, but they’re not doing a whole lot when he is in there and you can tell that what they are doing he’s comfortable with.

“Just been overall impressed with how he’s performed knowing that he is a true freshman.”

On paper, TCU should be able to get the passing game going against a reeling Texas secondary. The Longhorns have the league’s worst-ranked passing defense allowing 310 yards per game and struggled to contain Kansas’ passing attack last Saturday.

For Duggan and TCU, though, nothing is a given at this point. Duggan will only be making his fifth career start, and the receivers remain prone to dropped passes.

But TCU is getting healthier at the receiver position with the return of Taye Barber last week. Barber finished with four catches for 37 yards, and speedster Mikel Barkley appears to be getting closer to game action.

“We’ve got to catch the football,” Patterson said. “And Max has just got to relax and go through his motions. He’s going to be a really good player.”

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