How Will Jett Duffey’s Arrest Impact Texas Tech QB Race?

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: McLane Carter
AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 24: McLane Carter /

Four members of the Texas Tech football program, including potential starting quarterback Jett Duffey, were arrested early Sunday morning outside a Lubbock bar potentially impacting the competition for the starting quarterback position.

The biggest development of the Texas Tech spring football practice period took place not at the new football training facility but across the street outside a Lubbock bar.  Sunday morning, four Texas Tech players, Jett Duffey, Christian Taylor, Desmon Smith and Quan Shorts, were arrested and booked in the Lubbock jail.

Footage of the incident was released by the Lubbock police department and shows Taylor breaking a windshield on a car in the middle of the street.  Then, at about the 7:30 mark, Duffey is seen asking the officers about Taylor’s arrest before he moves off camera and allegedly punches a wall putting a sizable hole in it leading to his arrest.

Tuesday, all four players were suspended indefinitely by Kliff Kingsbury who was obviously disappointed in his players.

"“Anytime you have an incident like that, it’s a bad look for your program. It’s a bad look for the university,” Kingsbury told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “Our guys have to understand that. It’s not something we’re proud of. It’s not going to be tolerated. We’ve got to be better as a program to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”"

While Smith and Shorts are candidates to start at corner back and wide receiver respectively, the most intrigue revolves around Duffey, who was considered by most to be the frontrunner for the starting quarterback job next season.

Duffey is currently competing with junior McLane Carter and true freshman Alan Bowman for the right to replace the graduated Nic Shimonek at the most important position on the field.  Now, it appears that Duffey may fall behind in that competition.

While the team practiced on Tuesday, Duffy and the other teammates who were arrested were not suited up.  Rather, they were doing alternative work on the side that one can only imagine is part of their punishment.

Now, many Texas Tech fans that had assumed Duffey would be the next Red Raider starting quarterback are having to at least consider what the offense might look like with either Carter or Bowman at the helm.

While it appears that Duffey and the other three players are still with the team, the damage to Duffey’s reputation as a leader could be significant.  After all, this is not his first off-field issue.

The sophomore from Mansfield, Texas was suspended for the spring and summer semesters in 2017 following a Title IX investigation resulting from allegations by a female student that Duffey had sex with her while she was too intoxicated to consent.

Ultimately, Duffey was suspended from the university for two semesters but a grand jury decided not to pursue criminal charges.  The time away from the program cost Duffey an opportunity to earn the starting quarterback spot last season and cast doubt on his decision-making off the field.

Now, that doubt has resurfaced as Duffey again finds himself facing charges.  That the charges are a a Class B Misdemeanor may not matter as much as the time away from the team and the damage to his reputation.

What Duffey has done is given an opportunity to Carter and Bowman to distinguish  themselves.  Carter, a 2017 JUCO transfer was unimpressive in his lone career start against Texas last season going 23-46 for 359 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in three quarters of play.  However, he had at least two other passes deflected that could have easily been intercepted and he was replaced by Shimonek with the game on the line.

The Gilmer, Texas native is a fierce competitor with plenty of confidence but limited arm strength.  He is the perfect type of player to be a backup because his fearlessness could carry a team if he were pressed into action unexpectedly during a game.  However, his limitations in size, athleticism and arm strength are always going to plague him.

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Though the coaching staff has given equal time to Carter and Duffey in spring practice, fans should keep an eye on the freshman Bowman who has drawn praise from Kingsbury this spring.

"“Alan’s going to get more reps,” Kingsbury told the A-J, “and he’d really earned them through the first six practices, the way he handled himself, the way he carried himself. Really liked his development. So we were heading that way anyway. This just pushed more his way, so we’ll see how that goes. When Jett does get back, we’ll figure it out at that point.”"

Fans should not be shocked if Kingsbury gives the job to a true freshman.  After all, he’s placed his trust in true freshmen on numerous occasions during his time at Texas Tech.

Kingsbury gave walk-on true freshman Baker Mayfield the start in Kingsbury’s first game as head coach in 2013.  That season, every game was started by either Mayfield or fellow true freshman Davis Webb.  Then, in 2014, Kinsbury gave true freshman Pat Mahomes three starts at the end of the season.

If Duffey does not earn the job, the offense under new offensive coordinator Kevin Johns will look far different than most anticipated.  Johns has a reputation for being able to incorporate the running game into the spread offense, especially utilizing the quarterback in the ground attack.  That is where Duffey really separates himself from Carter or Bowman.

Carter is a decent athlete who is mobile in the pocket but does not have the ability to be a consistent threat with his legs.  Bowman, who is 6-foot-3, 210-pounds had decent straight line speed (he was a member of the sprint relay teams at Grapevine H.S. last year) but he is considered a pocket passer similar to Davis Webb.

He does not possess the elusiveness that Duffey has and he would not be featured as a ball-carrier.  However, his arm strength is elite and he was a precision passer in a spread offense in high school.

The reality of the situation is not pleasant for Kingsbury.  Duffey is the best quarterback option on campus in terms of ability but his leadership is in serious doubt now.

Next: Why Zhaire Smith Needs Another Year In College

In the wake of this week’s arrest, Duffey’s biggest competition has shifted.  Now, instead of proving he is capable of being a better player than Carter or Bowman, he must prove he is capable of being a better version of himself.  Until he does that, he may never realize his full potential.