12. Nic Shimonek, QB (Preseason Rank: 8)
It looked like more of the same, production wise, from the quarterback position for Texas Tech to start the season. Shimonek had a 72% completion percentage, a 12/2 touchdown to interception ratio and averaging 394.5 yards per game passing through the first four games of the season. This led many to believe that preseason projections of another losing season were so far off-base and that Tech could possibly win 8 or 9 games.
Then came Morgantown. What seemed to be a blowout victory for Texas Tech, a signature win on the road for Kingsbury and a 5-1 start, turned sour quickly as the West Virginia Mountaineers scored 29 unanswered to erase a 15 point deficit to send Tech home with a lot of doubt about closing games. For as well as Tech’s defense played against West Virginia and during the first half of the season, the fan placed blame for the defeat was laid at the feet of Kingsbury and Shimonek.
Lots of questions were being posed as Tech tumbled from their first ranking since 2013 and a blown 4th quarter lead that snowballed into a 4 game losing streak. While at one point seemingly better than Patrick Mahomes throwing 3 TD’s in the 1st quarter against Oklahoma, and in the next seemingly disappeared as the game went on. Statistically, still having good games, but noticeably more average in the 2nd half and even more so in the 4th quarter.
Shimonek persavered through another blown 4th quarter, double digit lead against Kansas State to get a win over Baylor, but week after week, questions about Shimonek’s performance late in games and even more so, Kingsbury’s ability to call a complete game offensively.
After a pedestrian performance against TCU, Kingsbury made the decision to bench Shimonek for the regular season finale against Texas. He turned to backup McClane Carter with bowl eligibility and possibly Kingsbury’s job on the line. While McClane Carter was lights out in the 1st quarter, the all to familiar stagnation of Tech’s offense reared once again in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. With his defense keeping Tech in the game by the slimmest of margins, Kingsbury turned to his veteran 5th year senior to come in and pull out a win.
It didn’t take Shimonek long as he connected with Keke Coutee on his first pass attempt for 52 yards and got the Red Raiders into the red zone.
A few plays later, hitting T.J. Vasher for the score and getting Texas Tech within three.
After getting yet another turnover from the Tech defense, Nic Shimonek turned all his 4th quarter questions to rest as he hit Cameron Batson for the game winning touchdown. Securing bowl eligibility, Kingsbury’s job and his own legacy with one throw.
Next year, Kingsbury will turn to another quarterback hoping to imprint their legacy on Tech football and while all the prospects are intriguing, it’s hard to argue about the calming presence Shimonek had on the offense when he entered the game in the 4th quarter against Texas. Something that will be sorely missed next year.
Shimonek should get an opportunity to play at the next level as either a late round pick or an undrafted free agent. He has accepted an invitation to play in the annual East-West Shrine Game, which will give him a chance to showcase his talents to NFL coaches. Seth Doege was the last Tech quarterback to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
As for Texas Tech’s options at the quarterback position next year, McClane Carter and Jett Duffey seem to be the early favorites, while incoming freshman Alan Bowman and preferred walk-on, Nick Gerber will also get a chance to compete in what should be an open competition this Spring.