Say what you will about Max Duggan, two things you cannot question about the junior from Council Bluffs, Iowa are his commitment to TCU and his toughness. Despite the impending hire of a new head coach and playing through a broken bone in his foot since October 9 (Texas Tech), Duggan is sticking it out for the Horned Frogs.
“There’s nothing really that has changed, I want to be here at TCU,” Duggan said about the upcoming coaching change. “I haven’t really focused too much about it, though, ‘cause I’m just focused on Iowa State right now. When everything happens, we’ll figure it out.”
When asked point-blank if he wants to stay at TCU in a follow-up, Duggan simply said, “Yes.”
The quarterback detailed the limitations his foot injury places on him in practice, something Duggan never had any doubt about when deciding to push through with TCU having the opportunity to reach a bowl game with a win in Ames, Iowa against Iowa State.
“Practice is tough because I don’t do a whole lot,” Duggan said. “I can’t take a dropback, I can’t really run, I can’t really cut. I try to do a lot of stationary throwing or just throwing routes in team aspects and seven-on-seven. It’s just me catching the snap and taking a one-step drop. I’m able to throw, it’s just moving at full speed is the issue. That affects my timing. I can’t do boots or naked rollouts. I try to do as much as I can to stay in shape throwing the ball and helping out all the guys around us.”
He returned last week for TCU’s home finale against Kansas after sitting out the Baylor and Oklahoma state games. He wasn’t perfect, but he did enough to win with 166 yards passing and 74 yards rushing on 14 carries.
“I think during the stretch of the games against West Virginia and Kansas State, a few games playing on the injury, I like to think I was feeling ok, but I understand my mobility wasn’t there and that I wasn’t the best I could be,” Duggan said. “After a couple games of resting, it helped my foot and my body, which allowed me to play quicker and faster.”
Duggan has thrown for 1,832 yards on a career-high 64.7 completion percentage with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He’s also added a dimension on the ground, rushing for 324 yards and three TDs.
“It [my foot] doesn’t feel great,” he said. “But on gameday when you have some adrenaline going I’m able to get shot up, injected with something at halftime to help with the pain. At that point, it’s just mental toughness to be out there with the guys. That’s my biggest reason, to be available for my teammates and get through the season. It’s been alright.”
His rugged childhood is what made him the player he is today. Between his dad, Jim, a retired high school football coach and Gary Patterson, Duggan has had a lifetime full of tough love.
“Being from the town that I am, that was the persona of people,” said the 2018 Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year. “Hard workers who went to work every day and didn’t complain about anything. Mental toughness, didn’t have everything given to you, you had to work really hard for it. That was kind of the attitude in my town and where I’m from in southwest Iowa. I think it just kind of grew on me.”
Patterson, noted for his in-your-face demeanor mixed with an undying loyalty to his players, gave Duggan a shoutout on Twitter after the win against Kansas.
“I better not hear anything bad about Max Duggan!” Patterson said. “He didn’t have surgery to help TCU win when others turned it down!”
Duggan said Patterson is someone who he will maintain a close relationship with even though he is no longer his head coach.
“I still stay in contact with him very often, he has a big role in what he did here and with me,” Duggan said. “We had a great relationship, and if I ever need anything I can call him and vice versa. He’s been great.”
Despite growing up in Iowa, Duggan was a Notre Dame fan when he was younger, so he has no issue carrying out Patterson’s mission and ruining the Cyclones’ senior day.
“At the beginning of the year, Coach P always talks about giving the senior class the best season we can,” Duggan said. “That’s by winning this game and allowing us to go to a bowl game. I think that’s the only thing we’re focused on: winning this game and moving on to give the seniors the best season we can.”