After watching No. 2 quarterback Donovan Smith struggle mightily against NC State on Saturday night, his second start of the season and sixth of his career, many Texas Tech football fans are clamoring for No. 3 QB Behren Morton to take over the starting role. Tyler Shaw may return from collarbone injury. However, after the 27-14 loss, head coach Joey McGuire threw some water on the fire.
“No,” McGuire said emphatically, long after the decision was made, when asked if he was interested in playing Morton more than he did on Saturday when the redshirt freshman entered the game. “I think they both came in and did some good things.”
McGuire then gave the defense an irrelevant compliment to the question about the quarterbacks before returning to the topic of Morton and Smith.
“I feel good,” he said. “We’re going to go in this week and look at the film and see where they’re at and come out, you know, they both played, maybe we could have played Beren earlier but we’ll do the same thing against Texas, I think they’ll both play against Texas.”
That’s not what those who want to see more of Morton want to hear. However, it’s fair to question whether Morton is ready to take on such a role, after all, he’s never started a game in his college career, and the Texas game may not have put him in that role in an emotional game. Very clever idea.
But the offense, and especially Smith, could be worth a shot to see if he can give Morton a spark in the first half of the series if he gets sprinkled early. That was something Tech fans were clamoring for amid NC State’s loss, and those cries will only get louder if the offense looks sluggish at home against Texas.
Not that Morton’s stats are better than Smith’s. He’s only completed 64.7% of his passes this year, compared to Smith’s 64.5% completion percentage. Additionally, Smith threw 17 passes in 2022, compared to the 110 he attempted, and his body is significantly less active.
However, the elusive Morton seems to be the reason fans want to see more of the Lubbock native, who played his high school football at Eastland. Smith was too slow to make decisions in the pocket, often leading to sacks or negative plays, while Morton was too decisive on the ball, even though some passes were ill-advised.
Morton is believed to be a higher IQ player due to his stature as a coach and having played the QB position his whole life instead of playing the QB position for a few years like Smith. Still, now doesn’t seem like the right time to hand over the reins to Morton.
Remember as recently as three weeks ago, he was the third-string QB on this roster. That means he received the fewest number of reps of the three QBs before the season and most of the reps he got weren’t against first-team receivers.
Morton also led a three-and-out drive in the second half of last season’s 23-0 loss at Oklahoma State, which is not in garbage time in his career. In other words, asking Morton to come in and face the team as a starter against the Longhorns is too much.
Morton will eventually get his shot to run this program’s offense as the starter. He may have the highest ceiling of any QB on the roster.
However, his time like Joey McGuire is not now. That may not be what most Texas Tech fans want to hear, but it’s probably what’s best for the Red Raiders at this point.