Editors note: Reed is having issues publishing to our site, so I am dropping this one for him. All credit goes to that man Reed who can finally write about football now that his stint as a manager is over!
For the first time in a handful of years, Texas Tech has a legitimate quarterback battle on their hands. While it seems that all three options are viable, they all bring their own intangibles to the position and to the team. In this article, I’m going to try and take a deep dive into what each guy can provide for us, as well as taking a stab at what the current depth chart looks like to me in that position.
If I’m Joey McGuire or Zac Kittley, I am ecstatic to have a QB room that is this deep and this talented in year one. On many occasions, you see new coaching staffs walk into a situation where they have somewhat of a crapshoot at this position; that is not the case in this situation. Regardless of who the staff ends up picking to run the offense, I feel confident that any of the three options can lead us to success. What also is very intriguing is that Coach McGuire has mentioned having packages for all three QBs. What will that end up looking like? I have no idea, but I do know that should be something very entertaining to see unfold.
If you were to ask most people this question, I believe that the most popular answer you would get right now would be Tyler Shough. And for the most part, I agree with that selection heading into the early part of fall camp.
Shough comes in with the most collegiate experience, between a few games at Tech last year before his injury, as well as his first two seasons at Oregon. Through my eyes, it was easy to see that Shough has a great arm and is a guy who a coach could put trust in to run an offense. Unlike a handful of Tech QB’s in the recent past, (won’t name any names), there weren’t many times I found myself scratching my head and wondering what he was thinking on certain plays.
While saying that, the largest criticism I have lying with him would be his inconsistencies on going through progressions. There were times it was evident he was relying heavily on last year’s star wideout Erik Ezukanma to get free and not sharing it to other guys that were possibly open. I don’t believe this year’s squad has that one “stud” receiver who defenses will be actively keying on, so I think it would be hard for Shough to repeat that mistake. But overall, he is probably your best and safest option to take the first snap on September 3rd against Murray State.
Smith is far and away the most intriguing option to me out of these three guys. How often do you have a legit QB who is built at 6’5 230lbs?! Obviously, we know what this kid can do based off of his 2 very solid performances last season. The biggest difference between him and Shough across the board would just be consistency as a whole.
Smith had great games against Iowa State and Mississippi State, then lackluste ones against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. While I’m sure those inconsistencies are primarily due to how young of a quarterback he is, it would still be good to see him iron those out. If he could hone in on making smart decisions, as well as using his legs the way that he can, it is quite possible he has the largest upside of any individual in this QB competition.
Morton is the third horse in this race and one that is still very unproven as a player in the collegiate ranks. Coming out of high school as one of the highest rated recruits Tech had ever gotten, it was definitely fair to have high expectations for him. Had it not been for the two guys in front of him, this would definitely be his team to run. He is a guy who can chunk the rock around extremely well, quite possibly the most natural talent in that aspect of these three.
The only obvious reason that he is yet to earn much playing time is due to how well Donovan Smith played at times last season. Smith did come out really slow against Oklahoma State, which provided Morton with his first collegiate minutes. Unfortunately for him, those minutes came against one of the best defenses in the nation and he was unable to really get much going.
What he does have going for him is that he had a good spring and he definitely had the best spring game of any of the quarterbacks. He spread the ball well, and used his legs to get into the endzone one time. What remains to be his biggest question mark is simply, can he lead/produce a good offense at this level of football?
When it comes down to it, I personally believe this race is closer between Shough and Smith. While Morton is definitely talented, I do believe he is still a leg behind the other two in a few aspects, primarily being a lack of D1 experience. As for a final depth chart heading into the season, I think it is hard to argue that it should not look like this: 1st being Tyler Shough, a very close 2nd in Donovan Smith and Morton in 3rd rounding them out.
Regardless of what route this staff decides to go with at the QB position, I am very glad to have a former Red Raider/spread offensive coach in Zac Kittley back in Lubbock. I have greatly missed seeing the ball being thrown all over the yard and our crazy fast paced offenses from the past. While it may not be a copy and paste of the Leach and Kingsbury offenses, I do know that their fingerprints will be all over it. And for that reason, I am looking forward to watching the offense thrive this season with weapons all across the board and a true Red Raider gunslinger at the helm.