The reactions have been, uh, mixed, regarding the transfer of Alex Delton from Kansas State to TCU. Initially committed to UTEP, the former Wildcat QB got an offer he couldn’t refuse when TCU came calling, jumping at the opportunity to be coached up by Sonny Cumbie and Curtis Luper, as well as play for a guy like Gary Patterson.
While Delton’s 2018 season wasn’t of the ilk to get Frog fans fired up to see him in Fort Worth, TCU has a desperate need to find healthy, experienced guys that can run the offense, especially for the spring. With returnees Michael Collins and Justin Rogers still recovering from injuries, true freshman, January-enrollee Max Duggan is the only healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster. Hence, the need for a graduate transfer.
To get to know more about Delton, we reached out to someone who knows him well - Luke Thompson, podcaster extraordinaire for our SB Nation sister site Bring on the Cats, Yakima Herald reporter, and former Shreveport Times HS sports reporter. Thompson recently had Delton on his podcast, and also covered Justin Rogers as a prep, so he has a unique insight into the future of the QB room at TCU.
Frogs O’ War: What can you tell us about Alex Delton the person/teammate?
Luke Thompson: I actually spoke to Alex recently for my Bill Snyder podcast (shameless plug) and while I wasn’t exactly asking hard-hitting questions, he had nothing but great things to say about his teammates, coaches and time at Kansas State. That would seem to show a lot of maturity, since there were definitely some rough patches along the way. He was, of course, part of a quarterback controversy during most of his time in Manhattan and there really was never any indications of animosity between him, Skylar Thompson and other teammates. Do I believe they were best friends and always liked each other? No, of course not, but the fact that any disagreements or problems they had with each other never went public speaks to Alex’s character, I think. He was also very open about being surprised by Snyder’s retirement and why that contributed to his decision to transfer. Again, these seem to be good things.
FOW: What were Delton’s biggest strengths as a passer? What are his weaknesses?
LT: Well, one of those lists is longer than the other. Strengths would be his arm strength and ability to sometimes throw a decent deep ball, as long as the route is kept simple. For the most part he knew when to throw the ball away under pressure, I suppose. The weaknesses begin with what often looks like an alarming lack of awareness when it comes to reading defenses, which led to some just plain awful throws and probably kept the K-State coaching staff from asking Alex to throw many difficult passes. He’s not a guy who is going to check down and hit his second or third option very often. Accuracy is certainly an issue as well, even on short throws. He’ll sometimes take too much time in the pocket, or occasionally leave too soon to try and use his running ability.
FOW: Delton is obviously a dangerous runner - how did K State take advantage of his athletic abilities, and what can TCU do to exploit that advantage even more?
LT: Well, of course Kansas State loves to run the QB read or even the straight up QB draw, and like most K-State quarterbacks, he improved his ability to read blocks and wait for holes to open up. He also had a lot of freedom to run when dropping back to pass, although that didn’t always help once teams realized his passing limitations and started to load the box with 8 or 9 players and dare him to throw. So the biggest thing TCU could do would be to find ways for him to be more successful as a passer, or aside from that possibly find ways to use deception and help him get more opportunities to run in open space.
FOW: After winning the Cactus Bowl MVP in 2017, big things were expected for Delton last year, but it was a disappointing season that saw him lose the starting job. What happened, and how can he correct it in Fort Worth?
LT: Unsurprisingly, Alex called the Cactus Bowl the best memory of his Kansas State career. He had a huge game, rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns against the worst rush defense in UCLA history. But even in that game, he completed just seven passes (on 10 attempts) for 52 yards and a touchdown, which came on a simple swing pass. We hoped his passing would improve. If anything, it regressed. The offense became too one-dimensional when Alex was on the field. Perhaps the pressure put on by Thompson hindered Alex’s development, although anyone who listened to Bill Snyder knows his confidence in Alex was never really an issue. Rather, K-State’s coaches couldn’t find a passing game that allowed him to be successful. Maybe TCU can. I don’t know.
FOW: You have covered both Justin Rogers and Alex Delton in your career, and know both as players and people pretty well. What can JR learn from Delton, both about playing football and being a team leader?
LT: Justin is a smart kid and was fortunate to have a great mentor in high school (Oklahoma State QB Keondre Wudtee) so I think he’s more advanced than most redshirt freshman. That said, he was always the heir apparent to Wudtee so never really seriously competed for a job. Alex can certainly teach Justin a few things about the challenges of a legitimate fight for the No. 1 job, as well as just the amount of work it takes to learn an offense and compete at this level. Also, Alex served as a co-captain for Kansas State, so he probably knows a thing or two about teaching younger players and setting the right example for teammates. On the field, Alex definitely has a lot more running experience so I’m sure he can offer some valuable advice on how to read blocks and elude defenders.
FOW: Who starts more games for TCU in 2019 - Delton or Rogers? Why?
LT: This is tough, but I’m going to go with Delton because of experience and maybe more importantly, injuries. I’d absolutely love to see Rogers get back to 100% next season and stay healthy to challenge for the starting job. Honestly, if that happens, his ridiculous natural talent might be enough to overcome his youth and surpass Delton on the depth chart. It’s not as if Delton has a perfect record of health, either. But given the nature of Rogers’ injuries over the past two seasons, I’ve got a bad feeling about the chances of him getting on the field, much less staying there. Hopefully I’m wrong.
Be sure to give Luke a follow on twitter @AhearnAlley and check out his excellent podcast!