TCU quarterback Max Duggan represents something the Horned Frogs haven’t seen much of the past few years — a returning, experienced starting quarterback.
Duggan helped the Horned Frogs to a 6-4 record in 2020, and there doesn’t appear to be any question he’ll be the starter going into 2021, despite the much-publicized transfer of Chandler Morris.
He’s just happy to have a full offseason heading into the 2021 season.
“It’s been awesome,” Duggan said of the ‘normal’ offseason. “I mean, obviously last year getting cut short on spring ball, and summer workouts kind of being a little bit different, so it helps a lot,” Duggan said. “You know, once you have spring ball, you have summer workouts you just feel more confident going into the season, you’ve been with your guys a little bit more, you get a little bit more comfortable with everything.”
Head coach Gary Patterson couldn’t be happier to have Duggan ready to roll for 2021. Between COVID-19 and an unknown health issue for Duggan, the 2020 season evolved with Duggan not getting the kind of preseason work Patterson would have liked.
“He’s our first returning quarterback since 2017,” Patterson said. “He was a freshman last year and he had no spring, no players to throw to in the summer, he had his health issue (heart condition) at the start of the season. He didn’t really work out until the week before the Iowa State game (Sept. 26). For him to grown up and be a leader is something.”
The heart condition was discovered during COVID-19 testing and proved to be a blessing, as Duggan was able to have a procedure to correct it. Duggan said the condition was unrelated to COVID-19 and was something he had since he was a child. He’s fully healthy now.
Once he finally hit the field, he threw for 1,795 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ended up leading the Horned Frogs in rushing with 526 yards and 10 touchdowns. There is transition on the offensive coaching staff this year, but it’s not all bad. Sonny Cumbie left for his alma mater, Texas Tech, leaving the offensive coordinator position in the hands of Doug Meachem, who was the coordinator during the Horned Frogs’ incredibly successful run in 2014 and 2015 before leaving for Kansas.
Plus, former Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill is now the quarterbacks coach and will oversee Duggan’s continued development on a day-to-day basis. Hill helped oversee Duggan’s recruitment to TCU.
TCU is coming off a 2020 in which it went 6-4 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 action. The Horned Frogs earned a bowl bid to the Texas Bowl, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. Among Big 12 teams last year, the Horned Frogs were the No. 1 rushing team in the conference, averaging 214.7 yards per game. But one of those top producers, Darwin Barlow, transferred to USC in June.
Duggan is one of several returning starters on offense, a unit bolstered by the transfer of former Memphis offensive lineman Obinna Eze. Defensively, the Horned Frogs return seven starters, including potential All-Big 12 performers like defensive end Ochaun Mathis, cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt. Additionally, the defense welcomes a Memphis transfer, T.J. Carter, to the secondary, and can count defensive tackle Corey Bethley back after he opted to return to school and not go pro.
Patterson is entering his 21st full season as head coach at TCU, where he has gone 178-74. But, in the past three seasons the Horned Frogs have gone just 18-17, after going 40-13 and sharing a Big 12 title in the four seasons prior to that. The Horned Frogs have earned bowl berths in seven of the program’s nine seasons in the Big 12 since joining in 2012.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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