The 2019 season was only the third time in Gary Patterson’s head coaching tenure that he didn’t lead the Frogs to a bowl. With high hopes of returning to the Big 12 title contending prominence TCU experienced just three short years ago, Patterson and his crew get to enjoy four of their first five games of the 2020 season on the home field.
Those five games won’t be a picnic though. The lone road trip will be to Austin, Texas where the Longhorns will be seeking a measure of revenge. The four home games are against crosstown rival SMU, an Iowa State team that has its eyes on contenting for the title, Kansas State, and then Oklahoma.
Needless to say, we’ll know a lot more about TCU by the time the Sooners bus down to Ft. Worth but, for now, we’ve got some questions.
What is going on with Max Duggan’s health?
Duggan was the only healthy scholarship quarterback when the Frogs got four spring workouts in last March. However, a heart condition was discovered during a COVID-19 health screen and the former 4-star quarterback has been sidelined indefinitely.
“Because of all the things we had in place, Max has a condition that he’s had his whole life and we caught it,” Patterson said in an interview last month with the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. “Right now, he’s in a good place and hopefully he’ll be getting back some time during the season. Right now, we’ll be going forward with the rest of the quarterbacks. It’s a thing he was born with and I’m just glad we found it; I can say that.”Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Duggan, who started 10 games in 2019 but played in all 12, threw for 2,077 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 555 yards and six more touchdowns.
TCU’s other options at quarterback include a former walk-on, a JUCO transfer, and a true freshman.
Who will rise to the top among a deep stable of running backs?
The Frogs are inexperienced at running back but that doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. A slew of backs are competing for playing time as the season approaches. That list includes redshirt freshmen Darwin Barlow and Daimarqua Foster, junior Emari Demercado as well as incoming freshmen Dominic Richardson, Kendre Miller, and former 5-star recruit Zachary Evans. Demercado is the most experienced of the group but he has just 17 career carries.
TCU is also replacing four offensive lineman this fall which could play a significant role in who emerges as the go-to back.
Can new cover guys adjust quickly?
Patterson is know for being a defensive minded coach and he has a talent-stacked group to work with in 2020. The Frogs are deep along the defensive line and Oklahoma transfer Mark Jackson just makes them even more so.
Senior linebacker Garret Wallow returns after leading the Big 12 in tackles last season. Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington combined for nine interceptions in 2019 and were rated the Big 12’s top returning safeties by Pro Football Focus.
What about the corners though? TCU lost Jeff Gladney and Julius Lewis and must find suitable replacements in a year with no spring ball to work guys out.
Sophomores Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and Kee’Yon Stewart are going to get first crack most likely but don’t overlook highly touted freshman Keontae Jenkins.
In what has already been a challenging year TCU was thrown the difficult task of looking for a new quarterback to start the season on less than a month’s notice. This is clearly going to be the biggest hurdle the team will face personnel wise and I honestly hope it works out for Duggan to get back on the field sooner rather than later.
If there is a silver lining here for the Frogs it’s that they will have had over a month to figure things out before Oklahoma comes calling on October 24th.
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