The Texas Tech football team is counting on a big year from starting QB Tyler Shough in 2023. Of course, each August, every team in the nation believes that its starting signal caller is ready for a huge season.
Typically, what separates the elite teams from the rest of the pack is the play of the most important position on the field. We have to look no further than the 2022 Big 12 season for proof of that.
In a conference in which the margin between the best teams and the worst was not all that large, it was QB play that helped carry the league’s top performer to never-before-seen heights. Remarkably, TCU got 14 consecutive games of health and strong play from Max Duggan after he took over for the injured Chandler Morris in the season opener. That was a shock given how much Duggan ran and how much contact he absorbed over the course of the season.
The rest of the conference contenders had no such luck. Even Big 12 champ Kansas State was forced to go to backup QB Will Howard for seven games after the man who started the season as QB1 in Manhattan, Adrian Martinez, was injured mid-season.
The third-place finisher, Texas, had to juggle between Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card with Ewers battling nagging injuries at times. Of course, we all remember that Texas Tech had to start three different quarterbacks for at least four games each.
That meant that TCU was the only team in the top four of the conference standings to have its top QB play a full season’s worth of games and technically, TCU could claim that their luck wasn’t great either given that their original starter, Morris, lasted less than one game before being injured.
Nationally, the trend held true as well. Georgia’s Stetson Bennett started and finished all 15 games the National Champion Bulldogs played.
Meanwhile, after a weird week one that saw Michigan play three different QBs in a competition that drug out past fall camp, the Wolverines received 13 straight games from junior J.J. McCarthy. Similarly, Ohio State had a full 13 games from C.J. Stroud.
In other words, none of the four playoff participants last season missed a game from the QB who started for them in the playoff due to injury, and only one, TCU, had a starter miss a game with an injury at all. That, by the way, proved to be a huge stroke of luck for Sonny Dykes’ team given that it set Duggan up for his moment, one that he fully seized on his way to a Heisman Trophy runner-up finish.
It isn’t revelatory to claim that QB play is paramount for football teams. That’s as true in middle school as it is in the NFL.
Still, it is important to fully understand what good fortune at that position can mean for a program. In fact, one could argue that Texas Tech fans know better than any other fan base that QB chaos leads to a team’s downfall given this program’s awful QB luck since 2018.
However, we learned last year that QB injuries don’t have to be an automatic death sentence either. Teams that are well-coached and that have a strong culture can overcome misfortune under center. For instance, thanks to depth and fortitude, Joey McGuire’s team was able to rattle off eight wins in a season of constant QB turnover last year.
So now, let’s move our focus to 2023 and what we might see from that position in Lubbock. Here are our bold predictions for the Red Raider quarterbacks.