We have entered summertime sadness. Days are long, the heat unrelenting, and, inevitably, it’s time to schedule classes again. Here is a primer for advanced science and mathematics in the fall. Chaos Theory is a mathematical subset designed to explain nonlinear phenomena that are incredibly complex and appear to behave in random ways. Turbulence, weather, the stock exchange, and the Horned Frogs six-way-quarterback battle as well. I’m no advanced mathematician. In fact, I celebrated my “C” in elementary statistics. But I know the best way to approach any equation is breaking up and evaluating its components. We’ll filter TCU’s quarterbacks from least likely to start against Arkansas-Pine Bluff to most likely.
Matthew Baldwin (sophomore, number unknown)
Baldwin is the first of two Matthews who are new in the TCU quarterback room via transfer. Baldwin started his career with the Ohio State Buckeyes after playing for Austin’s Lake Travis High School. Baldwin spent his time in Columbus rehabbing a knee injury sustained in the state playoffs during his senior season. He was a highly recruited pro-style passer despite the injury. Pro-style passers rely primarily on their arms to make plays and are more comfortable in the pocket behind linemen than on the run. Baldwin is least likely to start as he’s still recovering from minor knee surgery and is not expected to participate in fall camp. He has submitted a waiver to the NCAA for immediate eligibility but isn’t yet cleared. Baldwin is not listed on TCU’s athletic website but is considered part of the group of six competitors.
Matthew Downing (freshman, No. 17)
The other Matthew comes to Fort Worth via the Georgia Bulldogs and is also a pro-style passer. Downing saw limited action against the Bulldogs’ cupcake opponents and Vanderbilt last season and asserted himself as an accurate and capable passer in garbage time while maintaining redshirt status. Downing looks to be a capable backup while he learns the offense and has the benefit of health over two of his competitors, though offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie favors dual-threat quarterbacks who can create plays with their legs.
Justin Rogers (freshman, No. 13)
Rogers spent last year watching Frog quarterbacks drop like morning classes my first year at TCU. He was the second-highest rated dual-threat quarterback his senior year in high school. A nasty knee injury resulted in nerve damage that reportedly improved last season. Head coach Gary Patterson said Rogers was about 90-percent healthy during Big 12 media days. Frog faithful saw him only once last year, when he subbed a play for now graduated Grayson Muehlstein. A Golden Bear attempted to tackle Rogers and bounced off the freshman as if his bones were crafted of titanium. Rogers is Cumbie’s fantasy if completely healthy: a dynamic playmaker with bruising size.
Max Duggan (freshman, No. 15)
Duggan is brand new on campus and hails from Iowa. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year from his home state and the second-highest rated dual-threat quarterback in the last recruiting cycle. The youngster looks like scientists cloned an 80-percent-to-scale Andy Dalton but managed to completely replicate the Bengal quarterback’s ginger coloring. Duggan threw for more than 2,100 yards and rushed for 1,200 more in his senior season and will be the name fans clamor for if the veterans struggle. I’d like to see the freshman hit up the buffet early and often to increase his mass and durability when he scrambles to make plays.
Alex Delton (senior, No. 16)
Delton is a veteran transfer from the other purple Big 12 team. A talented runner, Delton rotated a two-headed attack for K-State last season. He’s played against Patterson twice and is an asset to the position room without taking a snap. Delton has leadership tattooed on his forehead and has achieved academic and playing recognition at KSU. I expect the senior to play a role throughout the season even as a backup. He’s an intriguing short-yardage option to keep defensive coordinators guessing run or pass and is the most experienced on the roster despite his rookie status with the Frogs.
Mike Collins (junior, No. 10)
Collins started last season as Shawn Robinson’s backup and in one year has become the crafty veteran. The junior impressed against the Sooners last season and rushed the rock serviceably when he wasn’t tossing bombs to Jalen Reagor and KaVontae Turpin. The Baylor Bears injured Collins on what should have been a personal foul call. Collins is healthy again, and I truly believe he’s the starter if he shows efficiency and protects the ball –– a huge problem for the entire offense last season. Patterson likes proven commodities, which are Collins and Delton.
The laws of football math state if a team has more than one quarterback, they have zero. Fortunately for Frog fanatics, I don’t believe this to be true for the purple and white this season. More is more after the trauma at the position last year. Patterson doesn’t divulge details he isn’t required to. Don’t bank on him naming a starter before kickoff week or even at all. I’d bet a case of Shiner Bock that Collins will take the first snap of the season. It’s also likely we’ll see Delton as early as the second quarter and Duggan for a series or more in the fourth. Fans should hope that any carousel action stops entirely by conference play, although Collins as the starter and Delton in a short-yardage package could be exciting for Cumbie’s offense, which looked predictable at best last year.