When starter McLane Carter went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter, many Red Raider fans expected sophomore Jett Duffey to come in. That proved not to be the case, as Kliff Kingsbury rolled with true freshman Alan Bowman. Bowman inherited a 17-7 deficit, and essentially played even with Ole Miss after that point, as the Red Raiders gained more yards than the Rebels in the second half, and had four strong drives into Ole Miss territory. Bowman completed 29/49 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown. Despite relatively strong stats, many fans believed Bowman was awful and should not have been on the field in favor of Duffey, while other non Red Raider fans thought he played well.
Bowman’s advanced stats were above average for the game. An adjusted QBR (rating evaluating a quarterback adjusted for defense) was 56.3. For reference that falls just slightly below Baker Mayfield’s QBR for his 2013 season at Texas Tech (56.8), and is better than three of the seven starts Baker made that year. Nic Shimonek’s QBR was a bit higher last year at 71.0, however Shimonek was extremely inconsistent, as his QBR varied from 99.5 (Texas) to 31.2 (TCU.) Interestingly enough, Bowman’s QBR was actually higher than two of Patrick Mahomes’ first three starts (Iowa State and Texas), and while we should not expect Bowman to be the second coming of Patrick Mahomes, it does paint a positive picture for his performance and potential.
Another positive sign for Bowman was his performance on 3rd down. His passer rating of 157.9 on 13 throws (9-13, 98 yards and one touchdown) is extremely good for an untested freshman, given that some inexperienced players tend to force passes on 3rd down. Bowman was especially good on third and medium (3rd and 3-7), going 5-6 for 74 yards and a score, with a passer rating of 241.9. For reference, Nic Shimonek’s 3rd down passer rating over 106 attempts was 151.9.
Despite the stats, there were clearly mixed feelings among Red Raider nation about Bowman’s performance. Some of the critics mention various flaws in his game, however I believe each of those can be corrected within the year.
Given the small sample size of stats and film from Bowman, it is too early to tell how he fits in with the future of Texas Tech football, and if he will even be playing for the same head coach in the spring. That being said, his first game showed that he has a decent base to develop from. From watching tape, I can see that a lot of his missed passes in this game were simply due to either ball placement issues (he led the receivers a little too far on almost every crossing route and out route in the game), throwing the ball away due to pressure, or not fully scanning the field, as he had the tendency to lock into receivers on the left side of the field.
The good news is that all of these traits can be fixed, and Bowman definitely showed poise in leading the Red Raiders down the field (inside the Ole Miss 30 yard line) in four of his seven drives in the second half. Bowman’s arm strength seemed better than that of starter McLane Carter, and his ball security seemed to be great for a freshman. That could play a role in him starting the remainder of the year, as all offseason Kingsbury indicated protecting the ball and being a “game manager” would be the most important aspect of the quarterback competition.
Ultimately, I believe that Alan Bowman has the potential to be the quarterback of the future for Texas Tech, and if he continues to develop and not make mistakes I see him starting the rest of the year, regardless of when McLane Carter comes back. While may fans may want Jett Duffey, it seems as if Kingsbury has stuck to his word of wanting a quarterback that makes good decisions and holds onto the ball, which is something that Duffey has supposedly struggled with.
Alan Bowman’s play as a freshman may determine the fate of Kliff Kingsbury, but based off what we have seen and heard I believe he is the quarterback this team needs this season and potentially going forward into the coming years.