Spring has sprung, but the University has closed down all athletic functions through the month of March. Texas Tech football is still scheduled to have its annual spring game on April 10th, but with the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic you can expect that to change. The Red Raiders finished the 2019 season in 2nd to last place in the Big 12 with a conference record of 2-7, and an overall record of 4-8. Those are not pretty numbers at all, and were a surprise to many Tech fans. After Matt Wells’ first season as head coach, it is safe to say there are plenty of questions we have heading into the next season.
Question #1: Is Alan Bowman the man for the job?
In his two seasons as a Red Raider, Bowman has played just 11 games. 2018 Bowman looked pretty good under coach Kliff Kingsbury - throwing for 2638 yards, 17 TD, and 7 INT in 8 games with a completion percentage close to 70. Those are pretty good numbers, but it is also important to consider the volume Bowman was throwing (5 games with over 45 passes thrown). In his 3 games of 2019, he threw 1020 yards, 6 TD, and 3 INT. Right now, it is really unclear to me how Bowman will fit in with this offense (considering he even manages to stay healthy). If Bowman goes down or the coaching staff decides to go a different direction, the ball will end up in Maverick McIvor’s hands. McIvor was an absolute machine in high school, going for over 4285 total yards and 51 total TD his junior year. The only issue is this was also the last full season of football he’s played due to injury. Both of these guys have enough skill to be the starter on this team, but the biggest question for the 2020 season is which one can stay healthy.
Question #2: Who will be WR1?
Last year there were two guys who really impressed me, Erik Ezukanma and R.J. Turner. T.J. Vasher also had an incredible season that was unfortunately cut short due to injury. Vasher has been the guy I’ve heard Wells praise more than anyone else this off-season. As Wells has repeatedly been complementing his physique improvements and mental focus, it sounds like Vasher is ready for a break out season. I think Vasher is clear-cut to be WR1 due to his incredible size and red zone abilities. Make no mistake about it though, this WR core is much deeper than people think. My top 3 are Vasher, Ezukanma, and Rigdon with there being plenty of other options behind these guys on the depth chart.
Question #3: Is the RB core deep enough?
Short answer, no. SaRodorick Thompson is a good back, who had 765 yards on 160 carries (4.8 yards per carry). Last year there were 3 other guys who had at least 65 carries - Ta’Zhawn Henry with 75, Jett Duffey with 72, and Armand Shyne with 65. All 3 of those guys are no longer with the program. Almost the entire bulk of rushing will now be Thompson's responsibility, which is not a comforting thought with the RB being such an injury prone position. Wells has talked a bit about pursuing a grad transfer RB in the portal, something that would be very beneficial in my opinion. One of the better options for a transfer would be former Arkansas RB Chase Hayden due to his immediate eligibility. Until then the majority of rushing will come from Thompson, Jax Welch, and possibly incoming freshman Tahj Brooks. If Maverick McIvor is the starter and is in full health, I can also see Wells and Yost giving him a few carries a game if they are willing to gamble a bit.
Question #4: How good is this team?
Honestly, I don’t know. In my opinion we have two good quarterbacks, a reliable running back, and a deep receiving core. The defense has a lot of question marks that will not be answered until the season is played out a bit. Unfortunately, I think the Big 12 will be very competitive again this year. Every game we play this season will likely be a challenge. I do think this team can go out and win at least 6 or 7 games. The biggest stories this year will be how much Wells and Yost will trust the starting QB, if our RB core can stay healthy, and how our secondary will hold up against talented teams in the Big 12. Red Raider nation, I believe we are in for a long but exciting season.