In the preseason last year I wrote an article arguing why Jett Duffey should have been the starting quarterback for the Red Raiders. Any points I thought were substantial were quickly thrown in the trash when Duffy was made QB3 for the Ole Miss game. Alan Bowman’s meteoric rise following McLane Carter’s injury didn’t help Duffey’s case either. By the time Texas Tech played West Virginia I thought for sure nobody would remember who Mr. Texas Football even was.
Truth be told, I did not find my original analysis to be particularly relevant after the spectacular display from Bowman. Then it happened. The collapsed lung on a rogue hit during the West Virginia game. Bowman’s injury was the original reason we as fans were able to see just how diverse Duffey’s play-making abilities could be - and it’s Bowman’s injury again that has opened the door of possibility. With Texas Tech’s season on the precipice of absolute mayhem, this article wants to turn your attention towards the best offense weapon for this new offensive scheme.
“(Texas Tech) needing a touchdown to go back ahead...
Here comes the pressure and it opens right up for Duffey.
To the twenty!
To the fifteen!
Duffey with the jets!
Jett Duffey started three games last year and appeared in seven total. Statistically, his best game last season was the 41-34 loss to Texas in Lubbock. Duffey put up 444 yards through the air and 80 on the ground. His noticeable downfalls, however, were in his turnovers; three fumbles (2 lost) and one interception gave life to the Texas offense on a number of drives. Regardless, this was an effort that showcased the dual-threat capabilities of the once third-string QB that had been severely lacking for an Air-Raid offense. Again, that’s not to say Duffey doesn’t know how to pass. (Peep the pissed off Tom Herman)
The Texas game was the last game of the year that Duffey would be healthy; playing with a torn meniscus. His season finished up with over 1,600 total yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions. These aren’t bad stats, but a lot of fans have it out for Duffey. Aside from issues off the field, the main complaint from Red Raider fans is that he is “turnover prone.” I get it. Turnovers suck. Here’s the rub, though: Duffey has an interception rate only marginally higher than the sophomore seasons of Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes.
There’s a number of reasons for turnovers, and we’re not making excuses for Duffey, but we’re going to look at some of the glaringly obvious. A noticeable issue that Jett had last season was going through complex read packages. Unlike Kingsbury’s playbook, David Yost’s surprisingly simple offensive schemes may limit the need for such complex reads. On top of that Duffey’s dual-threat ability would be huge in adding an extra dimension to the offense. It might be possible that Yost’s offense could set up Duffey to have his breakout year many were predicting last season.
Where complex reads threw Duffey for a loop, improvisation was his biggest strength. Unfortunately the risk of improvisation, in the same vein, leaves a lot of room for problems - which Duffey was certainly not immune to. The case in this article is not who the perfect quarterback is; it’s who gives Texas Tech the best opportunity going forward. Duffey’s ability to create through the chaos is something Tech fans haven’t seen since Mahomes’ days of wild feats of escape and 60 yard dimes off his back foot. Duffey offers a bit of that versatility and Houdini-esque feature - infinitely more than Jackson Tyner.
While Jackson Tyner has the potential of being a good pocket passer, there’s little evidence from his time at Rice that he can go beyond to make a play. Duffey has showcased on multiple occasions that he can. Additionally, even though Tyner can pass; Duffey can pass. Last season Duffey completed at least one pass for 25+ yards in each of the games he played. That ability to stretch the field will come in handy if Yost ever decides to open up the offense vertically *eye roll*.
The main reason I believe starting Jett Duffey is so vital is not so much the incredible athleticism or his surprisingly big arm, but because of the state of the depth chart. With Alan Bowman hurt and Maverick McIvor absent from a preseason surgery, we’re left with Duffey and Rice-transfer Jackson Tyner as the only realistic options. To put it bluntly: Tyner is not a player who should be starting at a respectable Big 12 school. Some of his stats are bad enough that I had to do a double-take to make sure I was not reading the wrong numbers.
Let’s review some stats. Tyner has never put together a season with a completion percentage higher than 50%, has never had a start with a QBR above 50 (in six starts), and has a career interception percentage that is similar to Duffey’s. This is a quarterback who transferred because he couldn’t get the start over someone with a QB passing rating of -38.8. There is no evidence that suggests Tyner has a strong arm like Duffey, and that lack of a deep ball will spell disaster. Defenses have already limited the offensive production of Tech’s receivers by jamming the line of scrimmage - why are we going to make their job easier by putting somebody who can’t hit the deep ball?
Ultimately we have to accept the position that we’re in. QB1 is out, QB2 is sidelined, and Coach Wells’ first season hangs in the balance between Duffey and Tyner. Whether or not the Rice-transfer will start against OU, I imagine his limited capabilities will be exposed and Wells will have a serious decision to make. Yes, Duffey might have some insanely frustrating plays, but his ability to create success out of nothing can’t go unnoticed. If Tech is going to have any shot at a bowl game this season it will be on the back of the dual-threat capabilities of Jett Duffey. Also how could we not want more of ankle-breaking jukes like this??