The Texas Tech offense is known throughout college football for the “Air Raid” as well as moving the ball at will against their opponents. Since 2010, Texas Tech has had a Top 30 scoring offense seven times. Last year in Matt Wells’s first year as Head Coach, Texas Tech struggled offensively and understandably so, they started their third-string QB for a majority of the season. Now, Wells is changing who is QB1 not because of injury, but because of results. Henry Colombi has been the QB for the last four touchdown drives the Red Raiders have had. So the question is, what can we expect from the Utah State transfer as the QB1 for Texas Tech moving forward?
Run Pass Option’s (RPO’s)
When looking at the style of plays that Texas Tech hasn’t used effectively with Bowman under center, RPO’s have to be the main stand out. Bowman isn’t known for his mobility and if you listen to some parts of the fanbase, he’s scared to run after sustaining multiple injuries in his Tech career. I don’t totally agree with that notion, running isn’t part of Bowmans game and it shows. With Colombi as the QB1, the RPO game becomes something that opposing defenses actually have to prep for. Colombi isn’t a great mobile QB, but he keeps defenses honest and can move in the pocket more effectively. Watching back the drives that Colombi had against K-State and Iowa State, you can see that the opposing linebackers freeze for a split second on RPO designed plays, this wasn’t happening with Bowman.
Another aspect of having a QB that keeps the defense honest with RPO’s is that it opens the field up for WR to get more space. The spacing on the outside of the field, and to a degree the middle of the field, is vastly different from a successful RPO scheme. It’s easy to tell the difference between Bowman and Colombi by just looking at the Iowa State game. Granted, the game was out of reach and the playbook opened up, but Yost still used Xavier White in RPO plays along with Colombi that created success on the outside and up the seams. This aspect of the game needs to be used more and effective results will follow.
Increase in the middle of the field usage
When watching the offense with Bowman under center, you notice a lot of screens and throws outside of the numbers. This was by design with Bowman as QB1, but expect that to change a bit with Colombi now QB1. Screens will still happen in this offense, they are just an extended part of the run game, but they won’t happen nearly as much with Colombi.
Watching the 3 quarters of offense with Colombi as the QB, you can see one drastic difference in the offense and it’s the willingness to throw over the middle. These plays aren’t always successful, but it keeps the defense honest and creates more space on the outside for Vasher, Ezukanma, and others. Colombi uses the middle of the field variety of different plays from RPO’s (mentioned above) to slants and angle routes. Just having the middle of the field used will help generate more offense for Texas Tech which in turn will allow them to be in more games and not put the defense in bad situations.
Now I know my points above have outlined this to a degree, but I do think it’s worth pointing out even more. With Bowman as QB, the offense was predictable and not very creative. Part of the blame has to go to Yost for the offense being predictable, but maybe that’s because he didn’t trust Bowman with the entire offense? Honestly, only Yost knows why the offensive playbook looks drastically different for Bowman compared to Colombi.
The predictability aspect of this offense is going to always be there to a degree. They want to go fast and put their playmakers in space. The offense being less predictable from a play-calling perspective will be huge for Tech because again, Colombi brings a mobile threat to games that the defense has to consider. Colombi isn’t Lamar Jackson by any means, but he has the ability to move outside of the pocket and pick up a first down with his legs.
Predictability has been an issue with Tech and the play calling all year long. From the 2 & 10 screens, after an unsuccessful run up the middle or just flipping that sequence, the predictability has to change and Colombi allows them to do so.
Remember, Colombi’s experience with Yost can not go unnoticed in this situation, Colombi was a prize recruit by Yost and Wells at Utah State and Utah State fans were upset when he transferred to Tech. Expect this offense to open up a bit more after this past weeks bye, if it doesn’t, the fans will make the seat get that much hotter for the Tech coaching staff.
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