TCU could play 3 QBs, Dykes not saying who takes 1st snap

Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
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FORT WORTH, Texas – Max Duggan has started 29 games as TCU’s quarterback and Chandler Morris had 531 yards of total offense in his only full game last fall. New Horned Frogs coach Sonny Dykes still hasn’t said which of them will take the first snap in the season opener Friday night at Colorado.

TCU’s initial depth chart lists Duggan or Morris as the No. 1 quarterback.

“I think we’re in a good spot,” Dykes said Monday. “Obviously, Max Duggan has a significant resume. He has played a lot of snaps in the last three years here at TCU, has played very well. … Chandler is the same way. You look at some of the games he played in last year, he played exceptional. So they both have experience and they both have done it.”

Dykes expects both Duggan and Morris to play in the opener, as well as Sam Jackson, the redshirt freshman who had a 77-yard completion to Taye Barber on his only pass attempt last season. The coach said he doesn’t think it matters who starts.

“It’s a fun group. I like the guys a lot,” Dykes said. “Sam certainly brings a different element to the room. … I would anticipate all three of them playing, and my expectation is all three of them will play well.”

Duggan, the Iowa Gatorade player of the year and a four-star recruit before getting to TCU, has passed for 5,920 yards with 41 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 32 games overall for the Horned Frogs. The senior has also rushed for 1,433 yards and 19 more scores.

After Duggan played with a fractured foot bone for several games last season, Morris got his first start in a 30-28 win over Big 12 champion Baylor in TCU’s first game after Gary Patterson and the school mutually agreed to part ways. Morris threw for 461 yards, ran for 70 and even caught a pass. His 531 total yards were the second-most in school history, but he got hurt in the next game.

Morris, the former Oklahoma transfer, is still listed as a redshirt freshman after completing 50 of 76 passes for 717 yards and three touchdowns in his four games last year. He had a TD run for the Sooners in their Big 12 championship game victory over Iowa State in 2020.

Senior offensive lineman Steve Avila, a team captain, said the Frogs are confident in whichever quarterback is playing.

“The only thing that we really know is there is a change in voice,” Avila said.

“They all run the offense in their own ways,” Barber said. “They all bring different things to the table, and I feel they’re all positive.”

Ties to Texas, Big 12 bind coaching newcomers Dykes, McGuire

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Two of the three new head coaches in the Big 12 aren’t really new at all when it comes to the state of Texas, the conference, and the traditional Dallas-area home of the league’s football media days.

TCU’s Sonny Dykes and Joey McGuire at Texas Tech have been there, done that.

Dykes is the son of late former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, was an assistant with the Red Raiders in the early 2000s and even spent a season on the staff of Gary Patterson five years before replacing the longtime Horned Frogs coach.

The 52-year-old has already been a head coach in his home state, having spent the past four seasons at SMU in Dallas, about 30 miles from the TCU campus. But that was the American Athletic Conference. This is the Big 12.

“Look, I love this league,” Dykes said, the last of two media days on the field at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys and site of the Big 12 championship game.

“I’m familiar with a lot of these coaches,” Dykes said. “A lot of these guys, I’ve known them most of my life and most of their lives. I’ve been to games in these stadiums when I was a kid. That felt like home.”

McGuire, a championship-winning high school coach south of Dallas in Cedar Hill, joined the Red Raiders after five years as an assistant at Big 12 rival Baylor. He replaces Matt Wells, who was fired in the middle of his third season last year.

“The one thing I always say, and I believe this, it’s not just a little slogan, but I’m a high school coach that gets to coach college football,” McGuire said. “My DNA is a high school coach.”

The difference is Dykes has left the state, with head-coaching stops at Louisiana Tech and California. After he was fired at Cal, Patterson hired him as an offensive analyst.

McGuire has barely left the Dallas area, where he was born, went to college (Texas-Arlington) and coached for 22 years before straying 100 miles south to Waco.

“I think the Texas high school coaches understand, what we say, we’re going to do, that they can trust us to take care of their players,” McGuire said. “Whenever you can walk into a high coach and the head coach knows, ‘Hey, this guy is what he’s all about, what he says, what he’s going to do,’ it makes a huge impact on those guys.”

Spike Dykes got to see his son in charge of the sideline at Louisiana Tech and Cal, but died less than a year before Sonny Dykes was hired at SMU, which was one of Texas Tech’s rivals in the Southwest Conference. TCU was another SWC foe, and son said dad always thought it was a good job.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Sonny Dykes said. “I think he would have gotten a kick out of me being at SMU. I know he’s looking down and excited about this opportunity and certainly gets a kick out of it.”

RESETTING CYCLONES

Iowa State had its highest-ever preseason ranking at No. 7 last year before a 7-6 season that ended with a loss in the Cheez-It Bowl a year after the Cyclones lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.

The Cyclones will try to bounce back from that disappointment, but will have to do it without quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Breece Hall, who had consecutive 1,700-yard seasons before bypassing his senior year and going early in the second round of the NFL draft.

“I think I said this a year ago, if we would have ever listened to what people said about Iowa State in the preseason hype, we would have never got our program off the ground,” said coach Matt Campbell, who is going into his seventh season after consistent chatter over several years about him taking a higher-profile job.

Hunter Dekkers will get the first shot at replacing Purdy, a three-year starter, while the task of filling Hall’s void will be considerably tougher.

“The ability to find greatness is the ability to overcome yourself,” Campbell said. “We’ve really tried to find out where we need to continue to grow, why we’ve either taken steps back or taken steps forward, and how do we continue to push forward as a program.”

HEISMAN HOPEFUL

Texas running back Bijan Robinson was the most likely among the players at Big 12 media days to become a Heisman Trophy candidate. So the junior knew the question was coming after he rushed for 1,127 yards, averaged 5.8 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns.

Robinson’s name surfaced a year ago when he had five consecutive 100-yard games, particularly after career highs of 35 carries for 216 yards in a 32-27 victory at TCU.

The last two of those five games were the start of a six-game losing streak, and Robinson missed the final two games after dislocating his elbow in a 57-56 loss to Kansas.

“When everybody on the team is successful and we start winning games, then it’s not just about me,” Robinson said. “It’s about everybody that’s around me that’s getting their awards, too. When we win games, everybody eats on the team. It is a distraction, but when we all eat, then we’ll all succeed together.”

STILL TALKING HORNS DOWN

Once again, Big 12 coordinator of officials Greg Burks got a question about the “Horns Down” signal, this time on whether it was a dead issue. Burks didn’t really say, except to try to lump the gesture in with all taunting situations by labeling it a judgment call.

“Let me be very clear with `Horns Down.’ I have no ownership on this symbol,” Burks said as he flashed both the “up” and “down” version. “This symbol is the same as all other signals. It’s when you do it, who you do it to and which manner you do it.”

Big 12 changes coming after one last season with 10 schools

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ARLINGTON, Texas — On the surface at Big 12 football media days, nothing really appeared much different. The 10 mannequins lining the main stage donned the uniforms of the same schools that have made up the conference for a decade.

As the annual two-day kickoff event wrapped up, workers began to dismantle the oversized figures, then carried them one by one off the stage that was adorned by all the team logos.

The Big 12 is heading into its final season as a 10-school league. Oklahoma and Texas, the conference’s only football national champions, still have at least this season – and up to two more after that – before moving to the Southeastern Conference.

BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF won’t join the Big 12 until next summer. And it’s unclear if there could be more teams eventually added to the mix – from the Pac-12, or elsewhere.

“Don’t want to speculate, you know, on the future,” new Oklahoma coach Brent Venables said. “I’m going to keep it on this season and what’s right in front of us.”

For now, that is the Sooners trying to win another Big 12 title after their record streak of six championships in a row ended last season.

As for the Longhorns, they look to make a big improvement after going 5-7 with a six-game losing streak in coach Steve Sarkisian‘s first season. He hasn’t decided whether Hudson Card or transfer Quinn Ewers will be the starting quarterback, but Sarkisian isn’t worried about that – “We’re in a really good position,” he said – and also isn’t concerned about the pending switch of leagues.

“Regardless of playing this year in the Big 12, or next year in the Big 12 or whatever this is going to look like, our style of play, our roster that we have in place, is one that regardless of who we play is going to be one that fits us and what we want to do,” Sarkisian said. “This is just our belief of who we want to be as a team.”

It was a week after Big 12 media days wrapped up last July that word came out about Oklahoma and Texas planning a move to an expanded SEC.

The Big 12 responded in September with the four additions, football independent BYU and the three American Athletic Conference schools that have worked out an early departure from that league. UCF had messages on electronic billboards around AT&T Stadium this week expressing the school’s excitement about moving to the Big 12.

“We have really good programs leaving, and we have really good programs coming in,” new Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire said.

Matt Campbell, the league’s second-longest tenured coach going into his seventh season, believes the Big 12 is in a strong position now because of the decision by Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and other leaders “to move, and not stand pat” last summer.

“Probably a lot better shape than we were a year ago at this time,” Campbell said. “A good move at the time because I think it’s probably positioned us in a great spot moving forward.”

Two weeks before this year’s Big 12 media days, Brett Yormark was named the league’s new commissioner after the 70-year-old Bowlsby’s decision earlier this year to retire. There was also another surprising shift in conference alignment, with UCLA and Southern California leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

Yormark, steadily busy even before his first official day on the job Aug. 1, described himself as actively engaged in realignment, with input from throughout the conference. He said during his introduction that he saw “there was opportunity” without specifically naming any schools, and adding that nothing was imminent.

“As we vet out the possibilities, everything will be additive. Nothing will be dilutive,” Yormark said. “I feel very confident that our conference is in the best position it’s ever been before.”

Texas and Oklahoma are set to remain in the Big 12 through the 2024-25 academic year, which would take them to the end of the conference’s current media rights deal.

When asked about a potential early departure for the Longhorns and Sooners, Yormark said he expected some future discussions with the two schools, and that he would always look for a “win-win situation.”

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he believed his team’s Bedlam series against Oklahoma would end when the Sooners leave the conference. And while saying he was joking, he also questioned why OU and Texas were still in on Big 12 meetings.

“I think the world is changing and people are like, yeah, they made a business decision. You know, the new commissioner, if I was him, I wouldn’t let OU and Texas in any meetings,” Gundy said. “I say that kind of jokingly, but really it’s almost business as usual.”