Saturday’s win over Texas was one for the record books.
While some clear issues still remain for the Horned Frogs (that big play bug is not going away), there was plenty of reasons to get excited for the future — both the immediate and long-term. Three true freshmen — Khari Coleman, Quentin Johnston, and Kendre Miller — played big roles, and several other second year players were a huge part of the win. But, at the end of the game, we learned one very important thing:
Max Duggan is an absolute star.
I think there is enough through six quarters of play to make that statement unequivocally. Not sure? Let’s go to our friend Parker:
Max Duggan is third in deep-ball (20+) completion percent in the NCAA this year. 3 touchdowns, 83.3% completion, 27.3 yards per completion. https://t.co/aMGMfF9mvM— horns down (@statsowar) October 4, 2020
If there was a complaint about Max last year, it was mostly around two things: completion percentage and touch. Well, he seems to have figured out both, as he is completing 73% of his passing attempts through two quarters and has thrown some of the prettiest deep balls you will ever see, including this one to Quentin Johnston, this one that found Blair Conwright down the sideline, and this touchdown pass to Artyavious Lynn in the opener.
In addition to what he’s doing with his arm, Duggan continues to prove that he is elite with his feet, leading his team with 79 yards Saturday (and that includes the 15 yard loss he took on the game-clinching safety) and calling a great audible at the line that led to his 26 yard touchdown run, one that Gary Patterson said was all his. “You’ve got to put it all on his shoulders, it was a great check.” I am not going to tell you that the true sophomore has arrive, but I am going to tell you that the Horned Frogs have looked pretty damn good on offense when he’s been under center.
It helps that he has the most talented wide receiving group we have seen line up for the Frogs in quite some time. True freshman Quentin Johnston and redshirt freshman Blair Conwright have super star potential themselves, judging by the early returns, and veterans like Taye Barber and Derius Davis provide an element of reliability and speed that makes this offense hum. Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie haven’t even really figured out how to get the tight ends more involved in the offense, and when they do, the red zone issues that plagued TCU Saturday are likely to be less glaring. Tevailance Hunt, Mikel Barkley, John Stephens, Jr, and JD Spielman are making plays as well, and ball distribution is becoming a good kind of problem.
But it all centers around the quarterback, and not only is he proving it on the field one play at a time, he’s earned the respect of his teammates. “Max is a warrior” is becoming the party line around TCU Football, something echoed by JD Spielman when the senior receiver met with media over Zoom Tuesday. “I’ve never seen anything like what he did in camp with his whole situation; he was back out there practicing in no time,” Spielman said, in referencing Duggan’s quick return from a heart procedure. “I remember seeing him when he first came back and was like ‘wow, he’s already back?’ And other people going ‘yeah, he’s a warrior.’” And not only did he quickly return to the practice field, he looked like he hadn’t missed a step when it came to Saturdays. “The fact he can go out there, make a check — and the check he makes is the one that calls game for us? He’s mentally strong, he’s physically strong, he’s an athlete. I have a lot of faith and trust that he can do what needs to be done for this program to go over the top.”
Duggan has the skills and he has the juice — now he has to keep providing the results. Through six quarters in 2020, he certainly seems capable of doing just that. He will get his next shot at adding to his resume Saturday, when he faces a well-coached team and disciplined defense in Kansas State. Kick-off is set for 3:00pm.