Though the Texas Tech football team is 0-2 on the season and though starting QB Tyler Shough has been outplayed by his counterpart in each of those games, on Monday, head coach Joey McGuire was adamant that he is not considering a change at the position. In fact, McGuire went so far as to say that the losses his team has sustained this year have not been because of Shough’s play.
“I do not think we are losing the football games at the quarterback position,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of people who would disagree with that and, hey man, I get it and totally understand it.”
Many Texas Tech fans may not be buying what McGuire is selling
On one hand, it is hard to understand how anyone could take McGuire’s comments at face value given the way Shough has turned the ball over this season. In fact, all five of Tech’s giveaways thus far have originated from Shough with four of those being interceptions. That’s not winning football from the QB position.
It is also fair to say that in each of this season’s games, the opposing quarterback has made more plays to help his team win than Shough has.
While Wyoming’s Andrew Peasley threw for only 149 yards against Tech in week one, he didn’t turn the ball over at all while also running for 68 yards. In all, he accounted for three total TDs and, most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over.
That night, Shough also accounted for three TDs while amassing 374 yards of total offense. However, he also threw a game-changing interception while also overseeing an offense that went from the middle of the first quarter to the final drive of regulation without scoring a single point.
While some of those offensive struggles were beyond Shough’s control, he also had several balls batted down, his lack of pocket awareness led to numerous sacks, and several of his passes were off the mark just enough to prevent his receivers from being able to run after the catch because the receiver had to go to the ground just to bring the ball in.
Meanwhile, last week, Bo Nix of Oregon was able to put up 405 yards of offense with two TD passes while also managing to play a clean game when it came to turnovers. Shough, on the other hand, turned the ball over four times, including three picks, to essentially neutralize the 383 total yards and four TDs that he accounted for.
That’s why it is hard for many Red Raider fans to believe that the QB position hasn’t at least been a significant contributor to the 0-2 start to 2023. However, McGuire took a more holistic view of his team’s struggles on offense.
Texas Tech’s turnovers have been a team problem according to McGuire
“The answer is to eliminate bad football, to play better football all the way across the board,” McGuire said. “That’s what we’re really going to push for this week.”
He pointed out that most fans are trained to watch the football and don’t go back to watch the offensive line play, the routes of the receivers, or other factors that can contribute to a turnover. That’s a fair point.
For instance, on the pick-six against Oregon that sealed the deal for the Ducks, center Rusty Staats was absolutely whipped by his man, the player would would hit Shough to cause the errant throw. However, it is also fair to point out that prior to that pressure, Shough missed a wide-open Myles Price running across the middle of the field for what could have been a huge gain.
The reality is that turnovers usually come about as a result of multiple failures on a play. Sure, sometimes a player just drops a ball on his own but normally missed blocks, miscommunication, or incorrect reads from other members of the offense play as much of a role in a turnover as what the quarterback does.
Thus, some of the giveaways attributed to Shough should also go on the ledger of other players. However, that’s not how the sport works. Quarterbacks get all of the glory when they win and they have to shoulder most of the blame when they lose. Right now, Shough is experiencing the latter.
It isn’t time for Texas Tech to make a move…yet
Though I have been vocal about the fact that Shough has been disappointing thus far and I also stated that I would have given backup Behren Morton an opportunity to spark the offense in the third or fourth quarter of the Wyoming game, I don’t think it’s time to make a complete QB swap just yet.
Doing so might be a sign of panic or desperation and that’s something the coaching staff can ill-afford to have permeate this team’s psyche. Instead, this is a time when staying the course must be preached and modeled.
This team entered the year believing that Shough was its leader so benching him after two mediocre-to-poor showings would send the wrong message to the rest of the roster. However, if Shough doesn’t improve when it comes to his overall play and if the offense doesn’t cut down on the turnovers, then changes might be warranted.
In reality, Shough likely has two games to solidify his hold on his job. He must absolutely shine this week against FCS opponent Tarleton State and next weekend, he must find a way to lead his team to a road win at West Virginia to open Big 12 play.
If he can play well in those two games and get Tech to 2-2, it will quiet the calls for his benching. However, if Shough slips up, McGuire may not be able to defend his starting QB for much longer.