From Inside the Red Raiders
Texas Tech just doesn’t look like Texas Tech.
The high-powered offense of the past is seemingly gone, replaced by an inconsistent attack that is potent at times but seemingly impotent in big moments. The quarterback position has not been impressive in the first two years of the Matt Wells era, and entering a crucial year after back-to-back losing seasons, the former Utah State head coach may have finally found the quarterback to turn everything around on offense.
Oregon transfer Tyler Shough is on campus and is expected to be the Red Raiders’ starter next season. Sure, “competition” will be the hot word through the spring, but Shough, a former starter for the Ducks, did not move to Lubbock to be the backup quarterback for newly-hired coordinator Sonny Cumbie, a Mike Leach protege.
The days of Utah State transfer Henry Colombi as the starter are over. His short stint late last season after Wells benched Alan Bowman, who later entered the transfer portal, will only propel him to the bench as a reserve with Shough now on campus. Freshmen will be involved in the competition this spring, but the future is not now for them. Shough has three seasons of eligibility remaining, and he’s trying to parlay that into an NFL career within the next two years. He sees Texas Tech as his ticket to the next level.
“Shough is exactly what Texas Tech needed in terms of talent and experience,” said Jarret Johnson, publisher of Inside the Red Raiders. “Honestly, the addition of him changes everything in terms of the outlook for next season. The coaches like what they have in terms of talent from freshmen Behren Morton and Donovan Smith but the prospect of starting guys who have never taken a snap at the collegiate level was disconcerting.”
Shough was inconsistent in his first full season as a starter at Oregon after backing up Justin Herbert, but when he was sharp, he was one of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks early last season. He led the conference in passing efficiency (160.4) while throwing for 1,559 yards and 13 touchdowns against six interceptions in seven games.
The great portion: the first four games, when he completed nearly 66 percent of his passes and ranked in the top-20 nationally in passing efficiency. The bad news was the latter half of the season, when he couldn’t complete 60 percent of his passes and was benched in the Fiesta Bowl.
“There were times where Shough looked like a perfect fit in Joe Moorhead’s RPO attack,” Duck Territory analyst Erik Skopil said. “His footwork in space and overall elusiveness propelled him to two 80-yard rushing games to open the season. As a passer, Shough was money when the read was easy. He could fit the ball into tight windows and muscle it down field too. These were the areas where he really thrived in the first three games of the season.
“The issues began to arise when the read wasn’t so easy. He threw into areas of the field where defenders had the numbers advantage; and seemingly every game had one to three passes hit a defender in the chest. It got to the point where Shough didn’t seem to trust himself. Not only did that trust seem to impact him on more slowly-developing plays, but it also crept into the plays he had preciously made without difficulty. This appeared to be a mental thing more than a physical thing.”
For Oregon’s staff, it certainly seemed like they believed the second-half Shough was the real Shough. Backup Anthony Brown took over at quarterback in the Fiesta Bowl and later freshman Ty Thompson joined the roster. Thompson is the highest-rated quarterback signee in Oregon history and coach Mario Cristobal believes he might be the best quarterback in the class of 2021. He might very well be Oregon’s starter in 2021, too.
“While most Oregon fans were happy to see Shough go, I don’t know if he got a fair shake,” Skopil said. “The upside is hard to ignore and I think with the right coaching and in the right system, Shough could develop into a very capable starting quarterback. A system that allows him to become comfortable in the pocket and doesn’t for him to overthink it should to allow him to get there.”
Shough’s stock dropped in the transfer portal, but he is still among the country’s best. He was rated as 247Sports’ No. 7 quarterback in the Transfer Portal this week with a 3-star rating after emerging out of high school in 2018 with a 4-star rating in the 247Sports Composite.
The question is how he will fit in the Red Raiders’ offense, which threw the ball 40 times or more five times last season.
“Shough’s a great fit for Texas Tech’s offense and new offensive coordinator Cumbie will certainly tailor the offense to his strong, accurate arm and nice straight line speed,” Johnson said.
Whatever happens, Wells and Shough are betting on each other. Tech needs a turnaround for Wells’ career to stay afloat. Shough needs to improve to garner attention from the NFL.
Coach and quarterback need each other, and if one succeeds, both will get what they want in Lubbock.