FRISCO, Texas — Texas Tech football has built its reputation on offense. The Red Raiders have cleared 500 yards per game in four of Kliff Kingsbury’s six years as head coach. But after losing key pieces on offense, it’s clear Tech is working through inexperience.
The three quarterbacks – McLane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman – combined to complete just 29-of-58 passes. Duffey was the only one to complete more than half. In a quarterback-friendly air raid offense, that’s not ideal.
Granted, the three quarterbacks cycled in and out throughout the day. It was hard for any of them to establish any sort of consistency. Heck, Duffey even overthrew Make-a-Wish recipient Dylan on a deep post.
“Sometimes when you’re rotating that many quarterbacks in, it’s hard to get in a rhythm,” Kingsbury said. “But that’s where we’re at.”
However, the issues didn’t just stop at quarterback. After losing wide receivers Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson to graduation and the NFL, the Red Raiders struggled to find a go-to option.
Four of the top five receivers from the 2017 roster are gone. Only sophomore T.J. Vasher is back, and he was inconsistent in the spring game. Vasher scored a touchdown, but also had a key drop that bounced right off his hands.
The rest of the Red Raiders receivers failed to get much separation. Granted, Tech boasts a stable of experienced defensive backs. Regardless, failing to get many open looks is still ultimately concerning. The few times receivers did get separation downfield, the quarterbacks tended to miss them.
All of these things are fixable during the offseason. Coutee and Cantrell were relatively unknown commodities before transforming into stars. The Red Raiders will also add three more wide receivers in May, including 4-star Erik Ezukanma.
While there were struggles, several units looked good. Kicker Clayton Hatfield appeared back to normal and hit most of his field goals from various distances. Running backs Tre King and Da’Leon Ward proved they can be centerpieces of an offense.
The defense also looked fierce in vanilla formations. The unit got its hands on several balls and forced three turnovers. From a pure talent perspective, this unit could be special.
Independent of the play, the spring game was a major success for Texas Tech. Approximately 10,000 people converged on The Star in Frisco, Texas, for the first of two spring games. The staff estimated hundreds of potential recruits were in attendance.
“It’s incredible to have 300 recruits in the stands watching your program and product and have our incredible Dallas alumni base,” Kingsbury said. “It’s great for players to work their travel processes and have to play in front of a bunch of people.”
Super Bowl champion LaAdrian Waddle was in the building, and Texas Tech’s most beloved son Michael Crabtree made an unexpected appearance. Two participants in the Make-a-Wish program also got to score touchdowns, which delighted fans and went viral.
Kingsbury emphasizes brand in trying to build his program, and growing in the Metroplex is a significant part. The event was a great opportunity to keep the DFW fan base involved and give fans a first look at the team.
Texas Tech has a lot of work to do before it faces Ole Miss at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sept. 1. However, the Red Raiders have plenty to be optimistic about heading into a critical year for Kingsbury.