Monday, Texas Tech football head coach Joey McGuire spoke to the media during his weekly availability time. The most intriguing pieces of information he shared centered on what has become a concerning QB situation following Saturday’s loss to Kansas State.
Of course, in that game, Behren Morton was unable to play in the second half after aggravating a right shoulder injury, one that has been an issue since he sustained it during the game at West Virginia. According to McGuire, Morton will be a game-time decision for this week’s contest at BYU.
“Behren, he’s really sore,” McGuire said. “I saw him this morning. He was in getting treatments. In good spirits. I mean, frustrated. I’ll tell you, I’ve been around a lot of players that have come out of games and I don’t know if I’ve seen a person more upset than Behren was that we were taking him out…He’s feeling good. He’s just really sore.”
Morton has not looked right since he sprained the AC Joint on his throwing shoulder in Texas Tech’s 20-13 loss to West Virginia on September 23. Because of that injury, he has taken limited reps in practice and it has been obvious that the plan has been to try to protect him by not asking him to put the ball in the air 40 times a game.
However, the physical K-State defense laid several big hits on Morton this past Saturday, including one in which he was driven to the ground on his right shoulder at the end of a running play near the sideline. After that play, Morton was obviously experiencing discomfort. However, he would finish out the first half going 14-21 for 125 yards before exiting the game.
In his place, true freshman, Jake Strong was forced into action for the first time as a collegiate. He completed 16-28 passes for 173 yards and a TD while also carrying the ball once for 54 yards. Unfortunately, though, it was his three interceptions that turned the game in the Wildcats’ favor in a 38-21 loss.
McGuire touched on Strong’s performance and then gave an update on the QB depth chart behind the freshman, which is now a huge concern given that there is no other healthy scholarship QB on the roster other than the Justin, Texas product.
“Feel great about Jake,” McGuire said. “I thought he did some really good things. So it’s Jake, Brady Boyd will take all the (second-team reps), then we’ve got a couple of guys, we’re trying to decide who that third guy will be to travel…”
A former transfer from Minnesota who joined the Red Raiders last offseason, Boyd is a junior wide receiver from Southlake, Texas. Last season, he caught 13 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown but this year, he’s yet to accumulate any stats.
Now, it appears that he might be just one play away from being asked to quarterback the Red Raiders. However, that’s something Tech has been preparing for since the loss of QB1, Tyler Shough, in Morgantown.
“Brady’s been taking snaps with Behren kinda beat up and not taking so many snaps in practice,” McGuire said. “So we feel really good about him if he ends up having to go into the game. We’ll have a special package for him where it eliminates some stuff but he’ll also bring a possible different look to the game too because, now, all of a sudden, the quarterback run game changes with what he can do in that part of the offense.”
While Tech can prepare Boyd as much as possible in practice, asking a player who didn’t even play QB at the high school level to run the offense on the road in a Big 12 night game would be a worst-case scenario. That’s why it will be imperative that Tech keeps Strong protected by any means necessary (assuming Morton doesn’t start).
Of course, the best way to do that is to run the ball, something that the Red Raiders got away from in the Kansas State game. Also, given that the Tech O-line is not the best at pass protection, the game plan should be to get the ball out of Strong’s hands in a hurry meaning plenty of screens and short routes might be in store on Saturday.
Sure, there is a small hope that Morton will be able to answer the bell this week but that seems a bit unlikely. Even if he does find a way to give it a go, would he be physically able to execute the game plan? One has to believe he might be rather limited given what we’ve seen over the past three games.
Thus, it might fall to Strong to be the savior against the Cougars. What’s more, if he somehow gets dinged up, the Red Raiders will have to turn to a wide receiver to play the most important position on the field. It’s certainly a tough situation that McGuire and his team are in. That’s why the open week after the trip to Provo, Utah can’t come soon enough.