2018 Quarterback Competition: The Case For McLane Carter

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

The Texas Tech football team is staging a three-way battle for the starting QB spot this fall.  Here’s the case for starting McLane Carter.

When listing the intangibles one might want in a starting quarterback, confidence, toughness and gamesmanship are certain to come to mind. Texas Tech quarterback McLane Carter, has been attributed with all of those traits by those inside the program but will those qualities be enough to carry him to the starting job this fall?

Carter is also the only quarterback on the roster to have started a game at the collegiate level giving him a slight experience advantage which could be a huge factor in such a tight race.  And it was in his lone start as a Red Raider, in week-12 against Texas last November, that Carter relied heavily on his intangibles as he went 16-37 for 237 yards and two picks before being replaced by senior Nic Shimonek in the 4th quarter.  Carter also rushed for a touchdown in that game helping get the Red Raiders their second-consecutive win in Austin.

The sophomore was poised, deliberate and in charge of the team in his first career start, and in a year where Tech is replacing three receivers, its top rusher and its quarterback, there may never be a season that will test a QB’s intangibles more than 2018.  If Carter can prove this fall that his physical skills have risen to the level of his immeasurables, he could prove to be the right man to lead the offense.

But where Carter comes up short is that he does not possess a standout singular trait.  He is not the type of dynamic athlete that Jett Duffey is nor does he possess the elite arm of Alan Bowman.

To put it simply, Carter is not elite at anything but he is pretty good at everything.  He can make most of the throws with accuracy and he is an above-average athlete who can use his feet to make plays but he is not a game-breaker.

After being in Kingsbury’s system for two seasons, Carter appears to have the best grasp on the offense of the three QBs, something he showed in the spring game when he was the only quarterback to throw a touchdown pass.  Though he had more incompletions in the spring game than Duffey or Bowman (Carter was 11-19 passing) the offense was at its most efficient and effective when Carter was running the show.

McLane Carter is the safe choice in this race, and that is not necessarily a negative, especially given the Red Raiders’ expectations that the 2018 defense will be the program’s best in the Kingsbury era.

"“We’re going to play better defense this year, so ball security’s going to be at a premium.” Kingsbury told the Lubbock AvalanchepJournal in march."

Starting Carter would be understandable given the fact that there seems to be fewer concerns about his ability to protect the ball than there are with Jett Duffey or Alan Bowman.  Duffey is by nature a risk-taker on the field as his athletic ability makes him feel like he can make any play which can lead him to put the ball in danger.  Meanwhile, Bowman is a true freshman who will have to adjust to the pace of college football which will means that growing pains are a certainty.

But the question that remains about Carter is huge.  Is he talented enough to be a starting QB in the Big 12?

"“He’s got to become a more accurate passer consistently, and then decision making,” Kingsbury said. “I think he’s athletic. He’s got a great presence with the guys, but in our offense you’ve got to be consistent with your accuracy and you’ve got to make great decisions."

Against Texas, Carter simply was not good enough.  His limited arm strength played into the hands of Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando who played press man coverage on the outside and doubled the inside receivers taking away Carter’s bread and butter, quick-hit passes to the slot receivers.

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Carter was baited into making long throws to the outside of the hash marks and that is where his below-average arm strength made him susceptible.  Carter threw two picks and had two other passes dropped by Longhorn defenders.

The question he must answer this fall is whether he has been able to improve his arm strength enough to make those throws, especially considering that Tech’s best offensive weapon is outside receiver T.J. Vasher.

Still, there is something to be said for a player who has seen meaningful playing time.  Texas Tech opens with a showdown against a very tough Mississippi team that will test the Red Raiders like no opening opponent in over a decade.

Carter, has already faced a high-caliber defense in the Longhorns who had the best secondary in the Big 12 last year.  That experience could be huge against the Rebels.

Next: Making The Case For Alan Bowman

There is a need for a leader to emerge at QB this year.  The offense is lacking experience at a number of key positions and McLane Carter with his moxie and poise could be the type of player the Red Raiders need leading the offense.