Texas Tech vs TCU Preview: Welcome to the Great Unknown
There's only one thing we know for sure about the Texas Tech vs TCU game, no starting quarterback has been named. Well we also know the game time, which is Thursday, October 11th at 6:30 p.m.
So, we know the game time and that neither head coach is naming a starting QB.
At Kliff Kingsbury's weekly press conference, he hinted that all three of his quarterbacks are available, or at the very least he hoped they would be. True Freshman QB Alan Bowman is coming off a partially collapsed lung, original starting QB McLane Carter is still dealing with an ankle injury from week one, and Jett Duffey is the lone man standing, but he was the third option. So theoretically, if Carter and Bowman are back and healthy, Duffey would slide back to third on the depth chart. Theoretically.
When asked his game plan for starting a quarterback, Kingsbury said, "You'll have to watch."
Gary Patterson, on the other hand:
It's par for the course from Patterson, who is notoriously coy with the media and hardly ever divulges more than he has to. He also has a history of, allegedly, rushing players back from injury. That's something his starter is in the midst of after Shawn Robinson injured a shoulder in TCU's last game.
Don Williams from the Lubbock A-J called it a game of "guess my quarterback" -- which is true. But it's more than that. I don't know if Patterson knows which quarterback he should play.
In fact, I think Shawn Robinson was in jeopardy of being benched before his injury. His meager offensive output has led to a 3-2 record and a tally of six interceptions and seven touchdowns. At about 200 yards passing per game, Robinson hasn't taken the leap forward that the TCU staff expected.
Texas Tech, on the other hand, finds itself with the exact same 3-2 record, but has a different feeling at quarterback after a surprise run from true freshman Alan Bowman that included 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions. McLane Carter hasn't played enough to move any needles this season, but was the starter on day one. Jett Duffey has seen time in relief against Lamar, and had one hell of a comeback attempt that crumbled with a late-game pick-six against West Virginia after Bowman was hurt.
An injury allowed a freshman Bowman to come in and flourish. Could the same happen to the understudy in Fort Worth? Could Robinson's injury be a blessing in disguise and an excuse to pull a trigger that Patterson has been unable to pull thus far? Michael Collins is the man in question, but relaying his stats would be useless; he only has 14 career pass attempts at TCU.
The transfer from Penn didn't start there either, so for all intents and purposes, he's a mystery, besides obligatory coach speak that doesn't hold much weight. He's sneaky athletic, and very sharp in practice. Whether or not he can be sharp in a game remains to be seen.
Let's call the quarterback battle a wash, only because nobody knows who the starter is. Though I like all of Texas Tech's options more than TCU's.
With that in mind, this game is absolutely unpredictable. The all-time series reflects that as well, with Texas Tech leading 31-26.
Mike Leach was 1-1 against Gary Patterson. TCU is 3-3 against Texas Tech as Big 12 foes. TCU has been, arguably, rock bottom for Texas Tech in two separate seasons. In 2014, TCU beat Texas Tech 82-27 and broke the Red Raiders' spirit. In 2017, Texas Tech could only muster 3 points against the Horned Frogs.
Those scores and records just add to this year's mystery.
Beyond the quarterbacks, both teams have been very hard to read. Texas Tech is two completely different teams in the 1st quarter vs the rest of the game this season, allowing more points in the opening quarter than the final three combined.
If Texas Tech can duplicate their second halves twice, they'd be 4-1, with their only loss seemingly a fluke performance against Ole Miss.
TCU has been equally baffling. There are times where the big play offense and the suffocating defense has worked in tandem to provide solid quarters. They have yet to put together a complete game, though, and that was on full display in a primetime matchup against Ohio State. TCU looked like a playoff team for about 40 minutes before collapsing against the Buckeyes.
Has either team fixed their glaring flaws after the bye week?
This game being in Fort Worth is of little consequence; it's not intimidating in the least. That makes the line out of Vegas a little strange, with TCU a 7-point favorite at home. Two teams with identical records, the mystery at quarterback and defenses that are great in spurts, yet there is a touchdown difference in the line.
My gut feeling is that Texas Tech can cover that spread, but I don't know if I can call an outright win from the Red Raiders. I do think this game will be close. The bigger question to me is the over/under, which is set at 62.5. The two teams are capable of scoring. Texas Tech averages 48.4 points per game, while TCU averages 31.6. Defensively, the Red Raiders yield 30 points a contest compared to the Horned Frogs' 20.
Only because it's a cop-out to not lay down a score prediction, and not because I'm incredibly confident, I'll split the averages here and say TCU musters 31 points, and Texas Tech reaches 34. Maybe it even comes down to some Clayton Hatfield heroics. That would be fun. Also, that's the over for those of you keeping track.
For clarification on this cloudy preview, tune into 1340 The Fan's Countdown to Kickoff pregame show from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. that day. You can listen on the air (1340 AM), online via our website or with the free 1340 The Fan app.
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