Texas Tech Starting Quarterback Spring Battle

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Spring football is officially underway in Lubbock. Red Raider fans will get their first opportunity to see the early on-field product led by head coach Joey McGuire. And while there are plenty of questions to be answered, the battle for the Texas Tech starting quarterback position is going to be extensive and intense.

No Answer Likely At End Of Spring

It is likely that the starter still won’t be named until the completion of Fall camp. New offensive coordinator Zach Kittley is one of the up-and-coming names in the coaching ranks. He is bringing his high-powered offense from Western Kentucky. But exactly how different will things look in Lubbock on the offensive side of the ball? The expectation is whoever the new Texas Tech starting quarterback will be throwing it a similar amount to a Mike Leach-style attack. Kittley’s quarterback in the 2021 season, Bailey Zappe, threw for 5967 yards on 686 pass attempts, both were the highest in the country.

Kittley has quite the quarterback room to evaluate from. Tyler Shough, Donovan Smith, and Behren Morton all will entire Spring practice with a chance to win the Texas Tech starting quarterback spot. Recently McGuire referred to his three quarterbacks as “1A, 1B, and 1C” as all three are working with a new coaching staff and learning the system for the first time.

Texas Tech Starting Quarterback Candidates

Shough transferred from Oregon heading into the 2021 season and started the first four games. During that four-game span, he had a 69.6 completion percentage, threw for 872 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. The former 4-start recruit from Chandler, AZ did not have a game that jumped out statistically. His stand-out moments from last season were a few clutch plays he made both with his arm and legs in the season-opening win against the eventually AAC runner-up Houston. Shough will be learning now his third offense in three consecutive seasons in college. How quickly he picks it up could determine if he wins the job.

2021 Season Turned When Smith Took Over

Smith was the 2021 season starter for the second half of the season. When Shough went down, Henry Colombi became the starter for the next four games while Smith was being worked into the offense. Smith eventually took the job over against Oklahoma. Including the season-ending bowl victory, Smith threw for 1,111 yards with a mediocre completion percentage of 60.4. In five games as the starter, he did throw for seven touchdowns against two interceptions. But his rushing ability provided a new tool for the offense. He is listed at 6’5” and 230 pounds, and watching him run one time reveals just how hard it is to bring down this big body quarterback. Smith’s dynamic abilities as a runner could be the difference in winning the Texas Tech starting quarterback job.

What About The Heralded Recruit From Eastland?

Morton entered the Texas Tech program with a lot of buzz around his name. A national top 150 player from the 2021 recruiting class, the four-star recruit was pegged as the future of the program. After Shough’s injury, the team struggled offensively with Colombi as the starting quarterback.  The season was getting away from Texas Tech. After the firing of Matt Wells, a bowl game at the time appeared unlikely. There were questions circulating on giving an opportunity to Morton. However, Morton only appeared in two games and attempted three combined passes. Morton did dress for all of the games, so he would have been forced in if Smith suffered an injury.

Will All Three Stay Out Of The Portal?

Shough, Smith, or Morton could earn the Texas Tech starting quarterback job. But it will be interesting to see where things stand at the end of the Spring. McGuire is publically saying they are all on equal grounds to start camp. All three of these quarterbacks have at least two years of eligibility remaining. It is hard to see a scenario where fall camp opens and all three are still on the Texas Tech roster. Two (Shough and Smith) have proven they can play at the Power five-level. The other is a former top-tier recruit with four years of eligibility remaining. When camp ends, there might not be a true starter named, but there is a good chance the candidate pool shrinks heading into Fall camp.