Gary Patterson was in midseason form during the unofficial start to the college football season at Big 12 Media Days in Arlington, Texas. When asked to handicap his quarterback race, Patterson quipped, “I would handicap it like my golf game. I wouldn’t handicap my golf game, to be honest start at the end of April and play into May and then we start camps.”
First off, playing golf with Gary Patterson would be one of the best four hours ever. But to his point, Patterson decided to creatively not answer the question everyone has around the TCU football program: Who is the quarterback?
Patterson expanded on his answer, adding, “Mike Collins wasn’t at camp because of mending, he’ll be back. Alex Delton, you’ve got a guy that was a team captain, handled himself well. Max Duggan, came in, the freshman. Justin Rogers was able to do more this spring than last spring. So for us having all those guys along with Baldwin and Downing so you have six guys that I think really have handled themselves very well.”
So while Patterson remains coy on what to do, the reality is he has a few weeks to figure out who will start Week 1 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and then get a week off before a tough road trip to Purdue. Patterson admitted that time is of the essence, knowing he will have to get this six-man race down quickly, saying, “I judge quarterbacks on Saturdays, but at some point in time, out of that group we will have to get down to three pretty quickly because you can’t give guys enough reps to get where you need to without doing that.”
So where will this race go? If Justin Rogers is healthy, the former four-star prospect who banged up his knee during high school in the fall of 2017, should be in the mix. Patterson said at media days he’s at “about 90” percent health. He was, at the time, the biggest quarterback prospect in TCU history and if he can finally get himself on the field, the Horned Frogs could add a new level of explosiveness at the position. Max Duggan is a true freshman and was ranked a top-10 pro-style QB in the country in the Class of 2019. He entered the program early and chose TCU over offers from blue bloods like Notre Dame, Georgia and Penn State. These are the two most intriguing options Gary Patterson has at his disposal and each has the highest upside. While Patterson may not be a fan of playing a true freshman like Duggan, Iowa State’s Brock Purdy and Texas Tech’s Alan Bowman hopefully changed his opinion on that last season.
Alex Delton could be a serviceable option if needed, but his style as a run-first quarterback is not an ideal fit for the system Sonny Cumbie has developed at TCU. Michael Collins, the Penn transfer who spent time under center last season, may be the safe pick, but he’s unlikely to lead TCU back into the upper echelon of the Big 12 Conference this fall. Matthew Downing and Grant Beucler seem like longshots at this point.
So while Patterson doesn’t want to handicap this race, I’ll give it a shot: expect it to be a fairly obvious four-man race relatively quickly between Collins, Duggan, Delton and Rogers. From there, my odds are on Duggan or Collins.
But if this race is anything like how Gary Patterson describes his own golf game, it sounds like their could be plenty of twists and turns, or hooks and slices might be the preferred reference to use.
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