Can Henry Colombi Save Texas Tech’s Football Season?
Henry Colombi came in on Saturday after Tyler Shough’s injury and threw for a career high in passing yards and touchdowns. After the game, head coach Matt Wells confirmed that starting quarterback Tyler Shough would be out for at least six weeks with a broken collarbone.
That’s the same injury suffered by Alan Bowman in 2019, Wells’ first season, which set up Jett Duffey to take over and go 2-7 in Big 12 play. (Well, Jackson Tyner technically went 0-1 before Duffey took over as the starter to finish the year.) Duffey's first game was in Lubbock against Oklahoma State in the best win of Wells’ Big 12 career so far in a 45-35 win.
Duffey would also beat West Virginia in Morgantown 38-17, but would ultimately finish 4-8 for the season.
In 2021, the Red Raiders now find themselves in a similar position. The 2019 team fell to 2-2 after opening Big 12 play with a 55-16 loss in Norman, Oklahoma. Texas Tech opened Big 12 play in similarly disastrous fasion this season with a 70-35 drubbing at the hands of the Texas Longhorns.
The 2021 Red Raiders are a game ahead of the 2019 team with an undefeated non-conference, but a similar finish would put them at 5-7 and outside of bowl contention. If you glance at the rest of the Big 12 moving forward, there aren't any teams that look unbeatable.
TCU just lost at home to SMU. Iowa State moved to 2-2 after they lost to Baylor. Kansas State no-showed against Oklahoma State, who has limped to an undefeated record along with Oklahoma. The Sooners, by the way, had their student section chanting for the backup quarterback to replace their Heisman candidate starter.
Before the Texas game, I thought Texas Tech would be bowl eligible. After the Texas game, I still think Texas Tech will be bowl eligible. Getting hammered once a year is nothing new for the Red Raiders. It's normally been Oklahoma. But Kansas State, Nebraska and more have gotten into the act in the past 15 or so years.
If Texas Tech had two more non-conference wins last year, they would have been bowl eligible after locking in victories against West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas in conference play. Instead, they finished 4-6 and fired the offensive coordinator.
The path to a 6-6 record might seem bleak after getting housed by Texas, but TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State all have to come to Lubbock. Matt Wells hasn't won in Lawrence, but Kansas also hasn't inspired much confidence in their own abilities yet.
If the Colombi we saw on Saturday against Texas shows up this weekend against West Virginia, I think Texas Tech has a good opportunity to be competitive. Just like they have been in most Big 12 games in the last decade. The problem is that the competitiveness hasn't translated to enough wins to make the games where Texas Tech isn't competitive ignorable offenses.
With the loss to Texas, Matt Wells moved to a paltry 26 percent Big 12 winning percentage. For context, through six seasons, Kliff Kingsbury was at 35 percent, and Tommy Tuberville was at 34 percent when he left for Cincinnati. The number could leap considerably with a few wins in a row, but a winning Big 12 record seems unlikely.
The Red Raiders have not notched a winning Big 12 record since the conference moved to the nine-game conference slate. The last time the team had a winning record was when the team went 5-3 in the south division in 2009.
Matt Wells has an enormous task infront of him to get bowl eligible and turn this Texas Tech football program in the right direction. Now he's got to do it with his backup quarterback.
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