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TCU football: Inside Frogs spring game, quarterback battle

Parking wasn’t easy to come by outside of Amon G. Carter Stadium on Friday night.

Sonny Dykes’ debut spring football game generated a nice buzz with nearby lots filling up more than an hour before the scrimmage started at 7 p.m. And fans weren’t disappointed in the outcome. Hey, TCU won.

More specifically, Team Purple pulled out a thrilling 10-7 victory over Team White in a two-quarter scrimmage. After time had expired, Team White was given two chances for a walk-off victory from the 16-yard line but senior quarterback Max Duggan missed on both of his pass attempts.

“It was all right. It’s about what I expected,” Dykes said afterward. “Some good stuff, some bad stuff.”

The quarterbacks drew the most attention throughout the game. Duggan and Chandler Morris received the most reps, and both led touchdown drives in the first quarter.

Morris played for Team Purple and led the first scoring drive. Facing a third-and-9 from the 26, Morris threw a strike to Derius Davis, who came down with the pass over safety Bud Clark in the corner of the end zone. Morris finished 4-of-6 passing for 59 yards on the series.

Duggan’s Team White responded on the next series. Facing a fourth-and-4 from the 33, Duggan kept the drive alive with a 20-yard pass to Gunnar Henderson. On the next play, Team White scored on a shovel pass from Duggan to Quentin Johnston, who raced 13 yards to the end zone. Duggan was 6-of-7 on the series for 63 yards, including three completions to Henderson.

Third-string quarterback Sam Jackson led two drives. He had a potential field-goal drive, but Griffin Kell missed a 42-yard attempt. Fourth-string quarterback Josh Hoover had two three-and-out drives on the night.

Once again, no quarterback emerged as the favorite going into the summer. Duggan and Morris are expected to continue their competition in fall camp.

Asked if any QB had a “leg up,” Dykes said: “I haven’t seen that yet. We’ll go back and re-evaluate all of the film. We’ll put our cut ups together and look at that stuff really on Monday. Trying to figure out, ‘This is what this guy does well. This is what this guy doesn’t do well.’ And then start tweaking the offense and putting scripts together and things for fall camp.

“The good thing is we feel like both can execute our base offense and give us a chance to move the football consistently.”

Outside of the QB battle, a few of the wide receivers continue to impress. Davis and Johnston had touchdown catches, and Henderson finished with five catches, including two for more than 20-yard gains. Running back Emani Bailey impressed, too, with a couple of long runs.

“It’s awesome to get the ball,” Henderson said. “I just try to get open. If the quarterback wants to throw to me, he throws to me. I just want to be the guy they can always count on looking my way.”

Defensively, linebackers Dee Winters, Matthew Kerr and Thomas Armstrong all had sacks. So did defensive end Landyn Watson. Aledo product Colt Ellison continued his strong spring, too, batting down a pass on a fourth-down play.

Dylan Horton and Jaquaze Sorrells also batted down pass attempts on the night.

Defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie said coaches always want “15 more practices” but has been pleased with the progress made throughout the spring.

“You look at us from Week 1 to where we finished up, that was a huge step for us,” Gillespie said.

Similarly, Dykes was pleased overall but emphasized there is plenty of room to grow throughout the summer months and going into fall camp.

“I think the buy-in has been really good. Great work ethic,” Dykes said. “We’re still learning. This will be good for us tonight.

“I don’t know that we had that mentality that we want to see, that great football teams have, that great competitive teams have quite yet. But, when we do, the spring game will look different than it did tonight. You’ll see guys competing a little bit harder, but we’re learning. It’s a process. It takes time.”

This story was originally published April 22, 2022 9:57 PM.

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