ARLINGTON, Texas一 TCU had a bitter end to its 2020 season.
After finishing the regular season 6-4, and earning a spot in the Texas Bowl against Arkansas, the season abruptly ended after a COVID breakout within the Horned Frogs' program canceled the bowl game.
COVID cut the TCU season short in 2020, but coach Gary Patterson said it has helped build a stronger bond among the players.
"The group really kind of came together, I think probably because they were so young," Patterson said. "I don't know how that is going to turn out, but chemistry is a great start. Having the quarterback back is a great start."
Max Duggan is the quarterback in question, entering his junior year, he is TCU's first returning quarterback since 2017. Patterson said having an upperclassmen at quarterback will have a huge advantage in close games.
"When we've had big wins, you're going to have to win games by ten points or less and so how do you do that," Patterson said. "You always want - if you have, you want the ball last, and when you have an older guy, that is a lot better to have the ball last."
Patterson said most seasons the offense and defense will have chemistry together, but not as a whole team at the beginning. He said the Horned Frogs have team chemistry among both offensive and defensive players.
"I think COVID has a little bit to do with that for the simple reason that you had Zoom classes and you didn't see the regular students," Patterson said. "We basically had to rely on each other."
Duggan agreed with Patterson.
"The chemistry this year has been awesome," Duggan said. "Obviously offense and defense were meshing well together. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with last year that we weren't really with each other. It helps us play as a unit. Our offense makes a play, it helps the defense."
Duggan is expected to be the vital piece on the TCU offense, not just because of his passing ability, but his running. Duggan led the team in rushing yards with 526.
Duggan said the team wants to be balanced on the offensive attack, and depending on what is needed he will rush or throw more depending on what is needed.
Patterson said the Horned Frogs first six games will be tough, and depending on how things go, a regrouping of the team might be needed.
"Cal Berkeley (is a) team they are talking about...they are going to be a really good football team," Patterson said. "SMU has got a good football team going early, then you start out with Texas."