‘I think Max will play.’ TCU’s Patterson optimistic on freshman QB Max Duggan

TCU coach Gary Patterson sounded optimistic about freshman quarterback Max Duggan’s availability for Saturday’s game against Baylor.

“I think Max will play,” Patterson said. “You guys should quit listening to Twitter so you see how that all goes. We won’t know until Saturday. We’ll find out more today because he hasn’t practiced so we’ll see how all that goes.”

Duggan injured his right middle finger in the final offensive series of TCU’s 34-27 loss at Oklahoma State last week, but has been praised for being a “gutsy” player.

It’s something his teammates have noticed early in his college career.

“I have full faith in Max,” senior wide receiver TreVontae Hights said. “The raw tenacity he has and the leadership he brings to the team. Just that raw play that he has at quarterback is uplifting for the receivers and the whole team.”

Duggan, of course, remains the top quarterback option. If he can’t go, it’s looking bleak for TCU.

Patterson said junior backup Mike Collins is likely out after sustaining a hard blow to his midsection on the final offensive play after he relieved Duggan. Fifth-year senior Alex Delton has left the team, Patterson said.

The next option — and Duggan’s projected backup on Saturday — is redshirt freshman Matthew Downing. Downing saw limited action in four games at Georgia last season before transferring to TCU.

As a non-recruited player, Downing was not subject to the NCAA rule requiring players to sit out a full season when transferring.

Ohio State transfer and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin is eligible to play, too, but Patterson said Baldwin is still in the early stages of working himself back into game condition.

Along with a knee surgery this summer, Baldwin has battled back issues.

“He hasn’t even been throwing on the scout team [until Sunday],” Patterson said of Baldwin. “Sunday was the first time he’s thrown in maybe four or five weeks.”

For now, the hope is Duggan shows enough grit to play through the injury. It’s not unheard of for a quarterback to play through a middle finger injury on their throwing hand.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played the final three games of the regular season and in the playoffs with a sprained middle finger on his right (throwing) hand in 2016.

For the season, Duggan is 120-of-208 passing for 1,405 yards with 12 TDs and four interceptions. He’s also led the team in rushing the past three weeks and has 319 yards rushing on the season.

Collins is 3-of-5 passing for 49 yards in two games.

Duggan, Delton and Collins are the only quarterbacks to see action this season.

Justin Rogers, a highly-touted quarterback coming out of high school, announced his intentions to transfer from the program last week.

Kickoff for the TCU-Baylor game is set for 11 a.m. at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram