FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU has two weeks before its next game with Purdue, and coach Gary Patterson said that will give everyone the chance to continue all the guessing about who will emerge as the Horned Frogs’ primary quarterback.
Not much was decided Saturday night as TCU debuted two quarterbacks in graduate transfer Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan. Both were ho-hum in leading TCU to a 39-7 victory over FCS school Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the season opener for both teams.
Delton, who played 14 games with six starts the last two seasons at Kansas State, started but shared time with Duggan.
Delton was more impressive running the ball (67 yards rushing on seven carries) than passing (10 for 22 for 119 yards). Duggan led all three of the Horned Frogs’ touchdown drives and finished 16-for-23 passing for 165 yards.
“I thought they stayed pretty composed,” said TCU senior receiver TreVontae Hights, who set a career high with eight catches for 108 yards. “Their leadership was great. I feel comfortable with either one of them.”
Patterson didn’t heap praise on either quarterback, but pointed out that neither threw an interception. TCU didn’t make either quarterback available for comment after the win.
Patterson wasn’t happy, however, that five TCU drives stalled inside the red zone.
“That was the place I thought we have to get better,” he said. “And the best way to get better there is we have to run the football.”
Patterson said he could invoke a five-man quarterback competition the next two weeks, joking that he could even move some quarterbacks to safety or nose guard.
But TCU’s other three quarterbacks in the mix – Michael Collins, Justin Rogers and Matthew Baldwin – aren’t likely to pass up either Delton or Duggan.
Either way, TCU will need a better effort from junior Jalen Reagor, the Horned Frogs’ leading receiver last season. He dropped three passes and muffed two punt returns before making amends late in the third quarter.
Reagor ran past Pine Bluff freshman cornerback Jordan Brown at the line of scrimmage to catch a 37-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Max Duggan to give the Horned Frogs a 29-7 lead.
Just prior to Reagor’s touchdown, he muffed a punt that was recovered by Pine Bluff at the TCU 37. That set up the Golden Lions’ only score, a 1-yard touchdown run by KeShawn Williams that cut TCU’s lead to 22-7. Reagor also muffed a punt inside the 15 in the second quarter, but TCU recovered it.
“We fumbled two punts, and both of them came on punt-safe, so we didn’t even have a return on,” Patterson said. “What Jalen has to learn is it’s a critical play and it can’t always be a great play. You have to get out of the way.
“You guys know how I feel about this. I’m not happy. There’s a bunch of things that need to get fixed. But I think we saw enough that we have the potential to be what we want to be.”
Pine Bluff, an FCS team that finished 2-9 last year, entered the game as a 53-point underdog. But the Golden Lions never appeared overmatched.
TCU’s defense was steady, picking off two Pine Bluff passes and forcing 11 punts. Because of TCU’s red zone struggles, kicker Jonathan Song made a school-record-tying six field goals. Former TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom also made six field goals Oct. 20, 2012 against Texas Tech.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions, who return 15 starters (nine on offense), didn’t back down. They were within two scores late in the third quarter. Pine Bluff’s defense was particularly strong in the red zone, forcing five field goal attempts.
TCU: This wasn’t a dominant effort by the Horned Frogs against a much inferior opponent. TCU appears to still be trying to find an offensive identity with its quarterback competition, although Duggan was more productive.
TCU quarterbacks last season were inconsistent for the most part, finishing with only 18 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions, as the Horned Frogs were mediocre themselves at 7-6.
Collins, the former Penn transfer, started four games late last year before a right ankle injury forced him to miss all of spring drills. The junior also missed two weeks of practice in August with a foot injury.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff will open SWAC play next Saturday at Alabama A&M.
TCU has next week off before playing its first road game Sept. 14 at Purdue.
Team Notes (from TCU)
* TCU extended the Big 12’s longest active winning streak to four games. Entering the contest, it was tied for 10th nationally.
* Over the last five seasons, TCU’s 48-19 overall record and 30-15 conference mark rank second in the Big 12.
* TCU improved to 115-5 when allowing 17 points or less under head coach Gary Patterson.
* An interception by redshirt freshman safety Ar’Darius Washington on UAPB’s opening series of the game marked the first time since at least 1996 that TCU recorded a takeaway on its opening series of a season.
* TCU won its home opener for the 18th straight season. The Horned Frogs entered the game tied for the nation’s eighth-longest streak with 17 consecutive home-opening wins.
* The Horned Frogs are now 18-1 overall in home openers under Patterson.
* The Horned Frogs improved to 46-8 in home night games under Patterson.
* TCU improved to 87-21 in 19 seasons under Patterson at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
* Since beginning Big 12 play in 2012, TCU leads the conference in interceptions. TCU’s two picks gave it 108 over the last eight seasons.
* TCU was even in turnover margin and is now 111-15 when ahead (75-7) or even (36-8) in that category over the last 15 seasons.
* The Horned Frogs had the edge in time of possession, 31:50-to-28:10. TCU is now 24-1 over the last five years when leading in that area.
* The TCU defense forced 11 punts today, tied for the most in a single game dating back to 1996. It is the 12th time in program history the defense has forced 11 punts in a game.
* The TCU offense rushed for 200 yards and threw for 284, marking the 21st time TCU ran for at least 200 yards and passed for 250 in the same game since joining the Big 12 in 2012.
* The Horned Frogs had two sacks today, giving them at least one sack in 68 of their last 71 games.
* The Horned Frogs are now 15-4 in season openers under Patterson, including six straight wins.
* The Horned Frogs improved to 13-1, including a 13-game winning streak, versus FCS opponents under Patterson.
* The Horned Frogs’ 16-0 halftime lead was their first time holding an opponent scoreless in the first half since Oct. 21, 2017, in a 43-0 win over Kansas. TCU led 24-0 at the break over the Jayhawks.
* TCU has a 134-18 record under Patterson when holding a halftime lead and 142-14 when ahead after three quarters.
* TCU opened at home for just the eighth time in Patterson’s 19 seasons.
* TCU scored for the 334th consecutive game. It’s the nation’s second-longest current streak and fourth all-time in NCAA history. The Horned Frogs haven’t been blanked since Nov. 16, 1991, at Texas (32-0).
* TCU and UAPB met for the first time.
* TCU’s team captains were Alex Delton, Innis Gaines, Cordel Iwuagwu and Garret Wallow. It was the third time being a captain for Iwuagwu, and the first time for the other three.
* TCU debuted its new Nike uniforms with a combination of a white helmet, purple jersey and white pants.
* Alex Delton (Hays, Kan.) became the second non-Texan to start at quarterback for TCU in the 19-season tenure of head coach Gary Patterson, covering 231 games. Mike Collins (New Canaan, Conn.) started four games last year.
* A 54-yard Delton carry in the third quarter marked the longest rush by a TCU quarterback since Trevone Boykin’s 69-yard touchdown run at Kansas State in 2015.
* Seven players made their first career starts at TCU: defensive end Shameik Blackshear, offensive guard David Bolisomi, quarterback Alex Delton, center Coy McMillon, cornerback Kee’Yon Stewart, linebacker La’Kendrick Van Zandt and offensive tackle Quazzel White.
* Safety Ar’Darius Washington had his first career interception on UAPB’s opening drive.
* Jonathan Song set a career high with five field goals. He was successful from 24, 36, 19, 34 and 38 yards. He is now 22-of-25 in his career, including 21-of-22 inside 40 yards.
* Song’s five field goals are the most by a Horned Frog since Jaden Oberkrom had a single-game TCU record six in 2012 versus Texas Tech.
* Song’s five field goals are tied for second most in a TCU game. Nick Browne also had five against Cincinnati in both 2002 and 2003.
* Song accounted for 17 points to tie for the fourth-most points scored by kicking in team history, also Nick Browne at Cincinnati on Sept. 2, 2002.
* Griffin Kell made a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter on his first career attempt.
* TCU finished with six made field goals, tying the single game program record set Oct. 20, 2012, against Texas Tech.
* TreVontae Hights’ eight receptions for 108 yards surpassed his career total of six entering the game for his first three seasons combined. It was his first 100-yard receiving game.
* True freshman quarterback Max Duggan made his collegiate debut on TCU’s third offensive series which was capped by his 1-yard scoring run for his first career touchdown.
* Duggan’s first touchdown pass was a 37-yard third-quarter strike to Jalen Reagor.
* Reagor had his 18th career scoring reception, putting him in sole possession of third place on TCU’s career list. He trails only Josh Doctson (29, 2013-15) and Josh Boyce (22, 2010-12).
* Reagor has a touchdown catch in eight of his last nine games.
* Reagor now has 20 career touchdowns (18 receiving, two rushing).
* Garret Wallow’s team-best 13 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, were both career-highs. It was his fourth double-digit game in stops.
* Trevon Moehrig registered his first interception of the season and the second of his career.
* Ross Blacklock had a sack in his first game since 2017. He was sidelined by injury last season.
* Ochaun Mathis had 2.5 tackles for loss in his first career start.
* True freshman Nook Bradford added 2.0 tackles for loss.
* Kee’Yon Stewart recorded his first career pass breakup on the first play from scrimmage. He finished the game with two PBUs.
* La’Kendrick Van Zandt had his first two career pass breakups.
* Freshman running back Darwin Barlow rushed for his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard carry.
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