Texas Tech football: Ranking the 10 best QB seasons of “Air Raid” era

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General interior view of AT&T Jones Stadium  (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

As we count down the top ten seasons by a QB in the “Air Raid’ era of Texas Tech football, we begin to appreciate how fortunate we’ve been when it comes to QB play.

Texas Tech football fans have been rather spoiled when it comes to QB play in the last twenty years.  In fact, we’ve become QB snobs.

I will fully admit to being one of those who have begun to turn our noses up at decent QB Play over the last two decades.   In fact, three QBs who put up numbers that many programs would be more than happy with, caused me to break several remotes in frustration and turn their names into profanities.

I don’t think I gave Taylor Potts his full due.  That’s because I was squarely on team Steven Sheffield during the QB controversy that began in 2009 and lasted through that offseason.

In fairness, Potts was a pretty good college QB.  For his career, he threw for 7,835 yards, 62 TDs, and 25 picks.  In each of his last two seasons, the two years in which he was the starter, the Abilene native threw for at least 3,400 yards and 22 TDs.

The problem was that he was following in the footsteps of Graham Harrell and Potts simply couldn’t measure up.  Not only did he lack Harrell’s passing accuracy and coach-like understanding of the offense, but he also did not play with the same type of competitive fire that Harrell did, and that made it seem as if Potts was aloof much of the time.

I should probably also admit that Potts was a bit hamstrung by playing in the two most tumultuous years in the “Air Raid” era of the program, the last year of the Leach era, and the first year of the Tuberville era.  That 2010 season in particular, when he had to play under a new head coach and offensive coordinator, did not do his stats any favors given the way that Tuberville put the clamps on OC Neil Brown.

Perhaps I should also cut Nic Shimonek some slack.  The one-year starter in 2017 was in a no-win situation having to fill the massive shoes of Pat Mahomes.

Passing for 3963 yards, 33 TDs, and only 10 interceptions, the fifth-year senior was adequate and had some nice moments.  But for me, his most defining moments were those of futility, most notably against Iowa State and TCU, games in which he threw for just 246 and 137 yards respectively and looked utterly lost as he tried to solve two of the Big 12’s best defensive schemes.

What’s more, I should give Jett Duffey more credit than I do.  The problem is that I had such high hopes for him given that he was the most decorated high school QB to sign with Tech since Harrell.

As we know, he never came close to achieving what Harrell did and it was frustrating to continually see his off-field missteps derail his development.  Still, I have to allow for the fact that he was a serviceable QB, especially in 2019 when he threw for 2,840 yards and 18 TDs in eight games as the starter.  Most impressively was the fact that he threw only five interceptions, which was something that he had struggled with throughout his career.

Of course, you won’t find any of those QBs on our list of the top 10 seasons in the “Air Raid” era of Texas Tech football.  That’s because the bar has been set rather high on the South Plains.  Since 2000, Tech QBs (and a few WRs, RBs, and punters) have thrown for 94,953 total yards.  That’s an average of 4,747 yards per year.

To make this list, nothing short of 4,197 yards and 32 TDs would be enough and those are numbers that many programs around the nation would give anything for. And we will start our countdown with another QB that doesn’t always get his proper due from Red Raider fans.

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