Jayhawks can’t overcome rough first half, fall 51-14 to TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU appears to have finally settled on a primary quarterback. True freshman Max Duggan made his second consecutive start Saturday and was near-flawless in a 51-14 victory over Kansas to open Big 12 play.
Duggan led touchdown drives on all three of his first-half possessions – helping TCU to a 38-0 halftime lead – and finished 8-for-11 passing for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Duggan shared time with graduate transfer Alex Delton the first two games before playing all but one snap last week in a loss to rival SMU. Duggan likely would have played more against Kansas (he played only the first two possessions of the second half) had the Jayhawks ever threatened.
Instead, TCU (3-1, 1-0) dominated in every area of the first half against Kansas (2-3, 0-2), which ended a 48-game road losing streak to Power 5 opponents earlier this season at Boston College.
The Jayhawks had only 55 yards on 34 plays heading into the fourth quarter and lost their 46th consecutive Big 12 road game. Kansas’ last Big 12 road win came Oct. 4, 2008 at Iowa State.
“That is who we are,” Kansas first-year coach Les Miles said. “This program is not built in a day. It will take some work and we are ready to do that work.
“I did not lose spirit in this team, and I don’t think this team did either. It was a man’s chore to get that team stopped.”
TCU was locked in from the opening kickoff, coming off a home loss to rival SMU a week ago that knocked the Horned Frogs out of the Top 25. TCU had some extra motivation as well after losing last year at Kansas.
“Everybody was practicing hard this week,” TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney said, “and you could tell.”
Delton replaced Duggan midway through the second quarter with the Horned Frogs in full control at 28-0. Delton, who played last year at Kansas State, led TCU on two scoring drives to end the first half. The Horned Frogs scored on every first-half possession.
TCU scored on its opening drive on a nice touch pass by Duggan to receiver Dylan Thomas for 26 yards. Thomas made the catch in the corner of the end zone between Kansas safeties Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden.
“I thought Delton looked a lot more comfortable, to be honest with you,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “The first touchdown (Duggan) threw he probably shouldn’t have thrown it because it was double coverage. He probably should have checked it down.
“You can’t force the offense. He’s got to calm down. You don’t need great plays. You just have to make the plays you’re supposed to make.”
TCU’s second possession was a 17-play drive that ended in a Duggan 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pro Wells. Wells made a one-handed catch on a pass by Duggan that sailed high.
TCU leading receiver Jalen Reagor also got in on the fun, ending the first quarter with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown after he initially muffed the football.
Delton, whose strength is his running ability, delivered a perfect pass down the left sideline to receiver Te’Vailance Hunt for a 49-yard gain to the 1 on his first possession of the second quarter. Hunt made an over-the-shoulder catch after Delton hit him in stride on the deep pass. After a TCU false start, running back Sewo Olonilua scored on a 6-yard run around the right side for a 35-0 lead.
For Delton, it was the first touchdown drive he had led of the season. He finished 10-for-15 passing for 186 yards.
Despite not starting the last two weeks, Delton has remained a team captain for TCU.
“He’s the reason I think we’ve progressed because he’s handled it well,” Patterson said. “He’s been unbelievable.”
TCU senior tailback Darius Anderson had a third consecutive 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 115 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Anderson has proved a big help for the young Duggan. But TCU’s schedule is about to get much tougher, with five of the next eight on the road.
Duggan is only the second freshman to start at quarterback for Patterson in his 19-year tenure at TCU (joining Shawn Robinson from 2017).
Anytime Patterson starts criticizing a true freshman publicly is usually a good sign.
“He’s got to quit making up his mind in the pass game,” Patterson said. “He’s got to do a better job of understanding the defense is going to decide who you’re going to throw the ball to. Max is going to be a good quarterback. He’s going to get better.”
Kansas: The Jayhawks were overmatched in every phase and didn’t show much fight after a dismal first quarter. Quarterback Carter Stanley struggled with his accuracy, finishing 12-for-29 passing for only 84 yards.
TCU: Patterson must have gotten the Horned Frogs’ attention in practice this week. TCU converted all 10 of its third-down attempts in the first half. TCU made it look easy all day despite missing four receivers with injuries.
CORNERBACK DEPTH CONCERNS
TCU was forced to start third-string senior Keenan Reed at cornerback against Kansas because of injuries.
Reed played opposite of junior Jeff Gladney. Reed would be considered a fourth option at cornerback for the Horned Frogs.
Starter Julius Lewis has been out all season after injuring his knee in practice in August but is close to returning. Noah Daniels, expected to be a primary backup at cornerback, suffered a season-ending injury in preseason practice.
True freshman Kee’yon Stewart started the first three games at cornerback for TCU but also missed the Kansas game with an injury.
Kansas returns home against No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday.
TCU will play its first Big 12 road game at Iowa State on Saturday.