Somewhat overshadowed by all the talk about Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells’s uncertain future is the fact that this program has a serious problem at the most important position on the field. And unless that is resolved, the rest of the 2021 season will be even more of a struggle than the past few weeks.
The simple truth is that Henry Colombi is not a viable option to lead this team’s attack. He is a gamer, a competitor and a hard worker in every way, but he lacks the arm talent to lead the Red Raiders to victory.
We saw that again on Saturday when he completed just 10-17 passes for a paltry 148 yards and no TDs, while being eliminated once in his team’s 25-24 loss to Kansas State.
Most telling about the loss to the Wildcats was that Tech only threw the ball 17 times. That was despite the hasty play only producing 170 yards on the ground. And don’t forget, the Red Raiders picked up 75 yards in the first two games of the game via side-to-wide receiver Kaylon Geiger and a jet sweep through wide receiver Erik Ezukanma.
The rest of the way, Tech and his ground game amassed a paltry 95 yards on 35 carries. That’s an average of just 2.7 yards per rush.
But even on a day when the ground game wasn’t running on all cylinders, offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie only called 20 pass plays (Colombi was fired three times). That indicates a lack of confidence in your QB’s ability to win the game with his arm.
Therefore the question begs, if you don’t have confidence in your QB to lead your team to a win over a team like Kansas State, which was number 96 in the nation against the pass that entered the game, then why is that QB the one that put you on the field?
Of course we know that the original plan was never to let Colombi play such a prominent role for this year’s team. Tyler Shough was supposed to take on the QB duties for the entire season. However, a broken collarbone changed all that and pushed Colombi back into a role he simply isn’t suited for.
It’s not that the Florida junior has been an outright disaster. But in his four starts this year, he has only thrown one TD pass while being knocked out three times. He has also failed to surpass the 150-yard mark in either of his last two outings. In addition, he has played two games in which he completed less than 60% of his passes.
What it all boils down to is realizing that Colombi is the type of QB that will keep his team somewhat competitive, but he is not a QB who will make the difference. And a difference maker is what Tech needs in that position given how shaky the defense has proved this year against quality teams.
But the problem is that Tech may not have a viable option to move to until Shough is ready to return. And we’re not sure if Shough will be ready to play again this season.
Currently, red shirt freshman Donovan Smith is seeing some scattered playtime in games. But he’s used more as a glorified running back than a legitimate QB. He was only allowed to throw football five times this year (all in the fight against Kansas), while he was asked to run the ball 15 times. So it’s reasonable to wonder if the coaching staff trust him enough to give him a bigger role on offense, let alone give him the reins as a starter until Shough can return.
It all comes down to a rather voluminous riddle that this program has to solve. That’s because Tech is about to start off with some of the best defenses in the Big 12, as three of Tech’s next four opponents (Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor) are in the conference’s top three in total defense. So underplayed play from the QB position can’t continue if Tech hopes to have a shot at saving a season that is quickly slipping.
The problem is that there don’t seem to be any viable options at this point. So the Red Raiders may be destined to go into battle knowing that their QB play won’t be good enough to win the match alone and that’s certainly not what this troubled coaching staff needs right now.
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