Texas Tech football: Youth movement leads Red Raiders to dominant bowl victory over Cal

Dec 16, 2023; Shreveport, LA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive linemen E'Maurion Banks (98)
Dec 16, 2023; Shreveport, LA, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive linemen E'Maurion Banks (98) / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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Behren Morton was by far the better of the two QBs

In our game preview we also talked about how the running back battle was likely going to even itself out and the game would come down to the quarterbacks. That proved to be true and fortunately, Morton was the much more impressive player.

Finally recovered from the shoulder injury he played through since the end of September, he went 27-43 for 256 yards and three TDs. He did have one inexplicable INT in the second half when he tried to throw a go-route to McCray in the end zone instead of seeing a wide-open Eakin over the middle for a sure-fire TD but that was his only critical mistake in what was his best game of the season.

Morton found Eakin for a 27-yard strike in the first quarter to tie the game at 7. Then, he would loop a pass to a wide-open Mason Tharp for a TD in the second quarter to knot the game at 14. Later that quarter, while scrambling, he would connect with Loic Fouonji for a 14-yard TD to put Tech ahead for the first time.

Meanwhile, Mendoza's hot start that saw him throw for 127 yards and a TD in the first quarter would quickly turn into a train wreck. He ended the night just 22-33 for only 261 yards and that lone TD. However, it was his three second-half INTs that would seal Cal's fate.

A redshirt freshman, the Miami native seemed to panic under the pressure of the Red Raider pass rush. Under duress, he repeatedly made massive mistakes including the interception to Jacob Rodriguez, the Tech linebacker who dove to catch a pass that Mendoza was just trying to throw into the ground as he looked to avoid a sack. That was one of the most laughable interceptions a college QB has ever thrown and it was a play symbolic of Mendoza's night.

As for Morton, he wasn't perfect but he was far better than his counterpart. He was unleashed to some degree because his right shoulder finally seemed to be healed from the sprain he suffered in the West Virginia game and we again saw the arm strength that has so many Red Raider fans excited about his future.

Morton was the star of the Tech offense, not Brooks, who had 98 yards and a TD on 22 rushes. He was named Offensive MVP of the game and that is the type of player Tech will need him to be moving forward as the team heads into the first offseason with Morton as the entrenched starter.