Texas Tech football: Without Alan Bowman evaluating Matt Wells impossible

TUCSON, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Matt Wells of the Texas Tech Red Raiders watches from the sidelines during the second half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TUCSON, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Matt Wells of the Texas Tech Red Raiders watches from the sidelines during the second half of the NCAAF game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The task of evaluating Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells in his first year with the Red Raiders becomes nearly impossible with Alan Bowman on the shelf.

In life, we are all being evaluated every day and in every facet of our existence.  But there are few areas in our collective consciousness more open for evaluation than that of the sports world.  Certainly, the prevailing storyline around the Texas Tech football program in 2019 was the first year of Matt Wells and what that might bring. But now, we are not likely to know what type of coach we have on our hands after his initial season thanks to the loss of starting QB Alan Bowman.

When Wells was hired back in December, he referred to the task ahead of him as a “reload” rather than a rebuild.  He said that was because of the talent already on the roster which was an indirect nod to the fact that Alan Bowman was entrenched as the Red Raiders’ starting QB thus giving the team a fighting chance right away.

Now, Wells has lost his biggest offensive gun until at least mid-November and perhaps for the remainder of the season.  While the prognosis seems to be 6-8 weeks if Tech is out of contention for the postseason by the time Bowman can return, it would make more sense to sit him for the rest of the year and preserve his ability to count 2019 as a redshirt given the new NCAA rule that allows players to play in up to four games and still maintain the right to redshirt.

What’s more, Bowman and his family are likely going to be rather cautious with his health (and justifiably so) given that this is the second-straight year that he’s suffered a significant injury.  Last year, he sustained a partially collapsed lung on two separate occasions forcing him to miss parts of six games including the final three as Tech went 0-5 after a 5-2 start.

This loss means that Wells and OC David Yost have to find a starter from a QB room left woefully thin.  2019 true freshman signee Maverick McIvor is recovering from a broken foot suffered in fall camp and is not expected to return to the practice field until November and 2018 week-one starter McLane Carter has transferred to Rutgers.

That leaves only junior Jett Duffey, who went 1-2 as a starter last year, and grad transfer walk-on Jackson Tyner as alternatives to fill Bowman’s shoes.  Tyner has made only three career starts and has a career completion-percentage below 50% after spending the last three years at Rice.

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Thus, Wells now enters every game until Bowman returns with a disadvantage at the QB position.  That’s no way to be successful in the game of football.  In a league featuring the likes of OU’s Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders, Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy, (all of which Tech will face in the next month) having Alan Bowman on the field was essential if Tech figured to have enough firepower to compete.

As we saw in Saturday night’s 28-14 loss to Arizona, even an inspired defensive effort such as Tech received against Arizona will go to waste if the offense is unable to hold up its end of the bargain.  And after putting up just 411 yards and two touchdowns on the nation’s No. 123 defense with Bowman on the field, there was already quite a bit of hand-wringing from fans about the Red Raider offense.

If Wells and offensive coordinator David Yost can somehow put together a game plan that can milk enough points out of either Duffey or Tyner to give Tech a chance to win, perhaps the Red Raiders can tread water until their QB 1 returns.  If that’s the case and Wells can somehow lead his team to six wins, we might start looking for locations for his statue on campus.

But in the more likely event that this team spends the majority of the remaining schedule wandering around in the wilderness with no real sense of direction, it will be tough to place all the blame on Wells.  After all, his predecessor helped create the perilous QB situation in Lubbock by bringing in Duffey, who has not lived up to expectations and signing Xavier Martin as his 2017 QB only to move him to inside receiver immediately upon his arrival.

Those two years should have produced better QBs and given Tech more insurance at the most critical position in all of sports.  Instead, Kliff Kingsbury’s misses at the position he has become synonymous with developing eventually cost him his job when he had no solid answers after losing Bowman last year.  And now he’s passed that gift on to Wells.

The shame of it all, beyond the fact that we will yet again fail to see a full season with Alan Bowman at the helm of the offense, is that we will almost certainly leave 2019 not knowing as much about Wells and his coaching staff as we would like to.  This isn’t a coach we all were familiar with when he showed up in Lubbock so this year was as much about seeing what the program might look like under his guidance as anything else.

Now, we are going to see what Matt Wells has to offer as a crisis manager but not necessarily as a football coach.  On one hand, dealing with injuries and finding a way to overcome in the face of setbacks is essential for a coach but so too is having your best player on the field.

Injuries are bound to happen every year.  But covering for an offensive lineman or receiver or corner is much more realistic both in terms of numbers on the roster and the way you can schematically alter your plan to send help to the vulnerable spots.

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Trying to replace a starting QB who is the player around which your entire offense was built is quite a different story.  That’s why it is going to be nearly impossible to evaluate Matt Wells in 2019.  WIthout Alan Bowman on the field for at least half of the season, he’s working with a disadvantage that would cripple almost any coach.