Taking stock of the Texas Tech quarterback position

Sep 7, 2019; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Alan Bowman (10) throws a pass against the Texas El Paso Miners in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 7, 2019; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Alan Bowman (10) throws a pass against the Texas El Paso Miners in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas Tech has some options at the quarterback position for the 2021 season.

For a football program that’s made its name off a prolific passing attack, Texas Tech has had quite a bit of turnover at the quarterback position the past few years. They have not had one quarterback start every game of a season since Patrick Mahomes did it in 2016. Whether that will happen in 2021 remains a complete mystery.

Nic Shimonek started all but one game in 2017, when he came on in relief of McLane Carter to lead the Red Raiders to a win over Texas. He was also the last Red Raider to even eclipse the 3,000 yard mark in a season. Alan Bowman looked good as a freshman in 2018, but injuries derailed his year. The same was true in 2019, leaving Jett Duffey to lead the offense.

The 2020 season was just a disaster, of course, leading to the dismissal of offensive coordinator David Yost. Bowman split time with Henry Colombi, neither of whom looked particularly good; in fact, their passer ratings were identical. Head coach Matt Wells has not officially named Yost’s replacement yet, but an announcement should come soon with most teams’ seasons ending.

Whoever takes the reins of this offense, which had its worst statistical season in two decades, will of course have to figure out who’ll be the starting quarterback. There are options, as incumbent signal callers Bowman, Colombi and Maverick McIvor will be joined by heralded recruit Behren Morton. Donovan Smith, part of last year’s class, is probably on the outside looking in at this point.

The Candidates

Bowman will have a legitimate shot at the starting job, as he’s the most experienced quarterback on the roster. He’ll only be a junior in 2021, but at this point, we pretty much know what he is. He’s a talented but flawed quarterback whose big arm will help the downfield passing game, but who sometimes struggles with reading defenses and going through his progressions, which leads him to throw interceptions too frequently. He also displays limited mobility.

Colombi, the transfer from Utah State, is more adept at escaping pressure and using his legs, but I still wouldn’t call him a dual-threat guy. He seems a bit more accurate than Bowman but doesn’t have the same arm strength, and he didn’t throw the deep ball as much. How much of that was his choice as compared to Yost’s play-calling though?

McIvor, a dual-threat quarterback out of San Angelo, was a three-star recruit who signed with Texas Tech two years ago but has not played a down of football thus far. He appeared to be the third-string option this year, and though some fans were clamoring for him to get a shot, there’s usually a good reason why a guy doesn’t climb the depth chart, as we saw with Duffey.

Then there’s Morton, the highest-rated quarterback recruit to come to Texas Tech since these things have been tracked. He’s got the mobility and the arm and looks for all the world like the future of this program. But will he start as a true freshman over the more experienced Bowman and Colombi?

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What It Boils Down To

What it may come down to in the end is how well each candidate picks up the new offensive coordinator’s scheme. Morton is enrolling in January, so he’ll have an equal shot as the others. If he’s as good as everyone says, and if he shows it in spring practices, there’s a very real chance he gets the job.

But I wouldn’t count out Bowman at all, who looked better as a freshman in Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense. Perhaps a new coach and a new scheme will do him some good, and you can’t discount his experience. Morton may be the future, but if the coaches feel he isn’t quite ready to lead the way as a true freshman, they could give the ball to the more experienced Bowman and could even let Morton redshirt if he’s not ready.

Colombi and McIvor can’t be counted out either, but I wouldn’t consider them favorites at this point. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see McIvor’s name in the transfer portal soon. He doesn’t seem to be making a great deal of progress at Texas Tech, and with Morton coming in, he may see his window of opportunity closing.

But then again, Bowman doesn’t seem to have made much progress since his freshman year, so perhaps that falls on Yost and his staff. New coaches and a new scheme could make all the difference. Perhaps the new coordinator can unlock something in one of these guys that Yost couldn’t.

Some have speculated that Bowman or Colombi could transfer, but I wouldn’t expect that at this point. If Morton wins the job in 2021, Bowman might transfer after that. But as of right now, I’d say Morton and Bowman are the two frontrunners to be the starter next season, which could make for an interesting battle in spring ball.