Texas Tech football: Alan Bowman yet to prove he’s the answer at QB

Injuries and inconsistencies have kept Alan Bowman from becoming a star but now, it is time he finally proves that he is the answer at QB for the Texas Tech football program.

Two years ago today, Alan Bowman had his signature game thus far as a Red Raider.  Throwing for 605 yards (a Big 12 freshman record) and 5 TDs against Houston, he led Tech to a victory in what was at the time, one of the most important games of the Kliff Kingsbury era.

What’s more, the next game out, he slew one of the program’s biggest dragons by ending a nine-year losing to against Oklahoma State.  That night in Stillwater, he racked up 397 yards and two TDs in his first career road game as Tech won at Boone Pickens Stadium for the first time since 2001.

After those two performances, fans were enamored of the brash freshman from Grapevine who seemed to be the future of Texas Tech football.  Some even went so far as to harken the name of Graham Harrell when describing Bowman thanks to his pinpoint accuracy and his overwhelming moxie.

But since then, Bowman has failed to take the next step as a QB and 24 months later, there are serious questions about whether he is the long-term answer at the game’s most important position.  Now, with the nine-game Big 12 gauntlet set to begin in less than two weeks, it is time for the redshirt sophomore to finally answer those questions with a resounding and affirmative statement.

If he doesn’t there are finally some realistic options for his coaching staff to consider behind him on the depth chart.  No longer are the likes of McLane Carter and Jett Duffey the best options in the program other than Bowman.  There’s now legitimate QBs ready to get their shot should Bowman struggle again with injuries or inconsistencies.

While we don’t know if junior grad transfer from Utah State, Henry Colombi, is a viable Big 12 starter, many believe that redshirt freshman Maverick McIvor just might be.  Keep in mind that the San Angelo native had already elevated himself to No. 2 on the QB depth chart after just weeks on campus last fall before a broken foot ended his season before it began.  And given that such programs as Southern California, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Iowa, Minnesota, and Arizona State all courted him heavily as a recruit, it isn’t hard to envision him as a Big 12-caliber starter in the future.

But even more intriguing is the QB Texas Tech has a verbal commitment from in the class of 2021, Behren Morton.  The Eastland, Texas product is a 4-star prospect who is ranked No. 181 in the nation and who is the No. 11 overall pro-style QB according to 247Sports.  To put that ranking into perspective, consider that Harrell was the No. 130 player in the country and No. 8 pro-style QB in his class (2004).

In other words, if there is any question after this season as to whether or not Bowman is the long-term answer in Lubbock, there will be a fierce competition next fall to figure out just who will lead this program forward.   And if there are questions at that point, then we can assume that 2020 was yet another long and disappointing season for this program.

What Bowman needs to finally show is that he is capable of beating Power 5 programs with regularity.  Thus far, he’s managed to go just 2-2 in such games that he’s started and finished.  What’s more, his numbers against Power 5 programs are pedestrian at best.

Completing 64.3% of his passes in seven career appearances against a team from a major conference, he’s thrown 11 touchdowns to 9 interceptions.  That’s not going to get it done in 2020.

In fairness, he has had some fantastic showings from time to time.  Most notably was the first half he put up against No. 7 Oklahoma in 2018 when he threw for 227 yards and 2 TDs with no picks while completing 80.8% of his passes before being knocked out of the game with a collapsed lung for the second time that season.  Had he stayed in the game, most believe Tech would have pulled off the upset of Kylar Murray and the Sooners as the Red Raiders were leading at halftime 31-28 and had the OU defense on its heels.

However, far too often, he’s looked merely average in big games.  Earlier that year against West Virginia, he was just 9-20 passing (45%) with a TD and a pick before also leaving that game at halftime with a collapsed lung.  And last year at Arizona, he was able to complete just 30-55 passes (54.5%) while being picked off twice as the Red Raider offense managed to put up just 14 points in a two-touchdown loss.

There was optimism though that 2020 was going to be his true breakout season.  That’s because he’s now had a second offseason to learn the scheme of offensive coordinator David Yost, who has a reputation for developing NFL-caliber passers.

But in the season-opener, Bowman was a mixed bag.  His stats were rather meaty as he passed for 430 yards and two TDs while completing 73.1% of his passes.

On the other hand, though, he was picked off once on a terrible decision to throw over the middle (a pass that was also delivered late) and he missed two wide-open receivers on downfield throws that could have broken the will of the pesky HBU Huskies.  What’s more, he was the second-best QB on the field that night despite facing an FCS opponent that gave up 721 yards the previous week.

After the impressive performance of Houston Baptist’s Bailey Zappe, who threw for 567 yards and 4 TDs on the evening, Red Raider fans took to message boards and social media platforms to sarcastically ask if Zappe were going to enter the transfer portal after his team’s 3-game 2020 season comes to an end.  While those comments have to be taken with a grain of salt, they do belie the sense that Red Raider fans simply do not know if Alan Bowman is the man to lead this program back to relevance in the Big 12, much less on the national stage.

He is going to be given every opportunity to prove so this year but that will require him to up his play against conference opponents.  If he doesn’t, the questions about who the future of the program is will only grow louder than they already are.

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