Though Saturday night was the beginning of a new era for the Texas Tech football program, one unwelcome carryover from the past several seasons reared its ugly head again in Tech’s 63-10 victory over Murray State as starting quarterback Tyler Shough exited the game with an apparent shoulder injury in the second quarter not to return. Needless to say, it is a potentially devastating development for the senior who missed the final eight games of 2021 with a broken collar bone.

Prior to his injury, Shough was 6 of 10 passing for 154 yards and a TD.  However, on a 3rd-and-4 play from the Murray State 31, late in the first quarter, Shough would keep the ball on a zone read and scurry 17 yards to pick up the first down only to come down hard on his shoulder when tackled.

Though the senior would stay in the game for two more plays to complete the first quarter, he would be seen between the quarters heading back to the Texas Tech locker room.  The next time he would appear on the sidelines would come after halftime when he would appear in street clothes and with his left arm in a sling.

No official word on Shough’s status has come from the Texas Tech football program as of the time of this article’s publishing but it would seem logical to believe that Tech will be without their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, something that has been all too common of a story for the Red Raiders.

Since 2018, the Red Raiders have lost their starting quarterback for multiple games in every year but the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.  That is one of the major reasons for the program’s overall struggles during that time.

Fortunately though, this year there appears to be a more than adequate option for head coach Joey McGuire and offensive coordinator Zach Kittley to turn to; Donovan Smith.  Playing just the second quarter and two drives in the third, the sophomore who played his senior year of high school football at Frienship High in Wolfforth was 14 of 16 passing for 221 yards and four TDs.

Leading Tech to the endzone on every drive he piloted, Smith was more than impressive in his 2022 debut.  Now, one has to wonder if he will be the new starter moving forward and for how long.

If Smith is now the man, the Red Raiders will be in a more advantageous position than they have been in recent years when the QB1 has gone down.  In 2018, Tech had to turn to true freshman Alan Bowman after McLane Carter suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener.  Then, it was the Jett Duffey show after Bowman was twice sidelined with a collapsed lung.

A year later, walk-on Jackson Tyner would get the first shot at replacing Bowman after he suffered his own collar bone injury in the season’s third game.  But he would last only one quarter against Oklahoma before giving way to Duffey, who would finish out the year as the starter.

In 2020, Bowman would remain healthy but would be benched for three games forcing Utah State transfer Henry Colombi into action.  But Colombi would not be able to secure the job as he would give the reins back to Bowman for the final three games of the season.

Of course, last season, Colombi also failed to hold down the starting QB job after Shough broke his collarbone against Texas in game four as he would be replaced by Smith who led Tech to a 2-2 record in the final four games of the year, including a win in the Liberty Bowl.

Losing Shough is far from ideal.  But should his injury prove to be long-term, it won’t be as catastrophic for the Red Raiders as an injury to the starter has been in recent seasons.  Smith is a dynamic QB himself and he now has experience in Big 12 action.

He can also do things with his legs that Shough can’t.  Additionally, Smith may be more durable given that he’s 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds.

Heading into this season, McGuire said that this year’s quarterback room is the best he’s ever seen with Shough, Smith, and redshirt freshman Behren Morton (a former 4-star signee) all competing for the starting job this offseason.  It appears that sentiment will now be tested given what looks like a serious injury to Shough.

The more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to Tech’s luck at the QB position.  But what we hope does change this year is this program’s ability to handle adversity at the game’s most important position.

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