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Should Tyler Shough or Donovan Smith Start for Texas Tech?

Between Donovan Smith and Tyler Shough, Texas Tech could be in for a strong offseason at quarterback

Options. Joey McGuire has options at quarterback in his first season with Texas Tech. 

What a feeling that must be in Lubbock, huh?

The Red Raiders understand that the 7-6 season of 2021 is now a thing of the past. It's a new year, with new staff and new offensive personnel leading the charge into the impending campaign. Things won't be easy early on either with games against Houston, N.C. State, and Texas to kick off the season. 

Then again, should Donovan Smith or Tyler Shough shine early, perhaps there's reason for optimism. And don't think that McGuire is looking for a quarterback competition going into Week 4 of the season. 

“I would like to at least say, ‘Hey, this guy’s in the lead,’ by the end of spring, or even name a quarterback, just for the leadership aspect,” McGuire said, via the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal following spring practice. 

The battle would've likely ceased if Shough stayed healthy last fall. When coming over from Oregon, the expectation was he'd be able to run Matt Well's pro-style offense with little setback on a new campus. 

To an extent, he did. Shough threw for 872 yards and six touchdowns against three interceptions. A broken collarbone in Week 4 against Texas allowed the door to open for Smith. 

The rest? Well, that's history. 

Smith impressed in nine games and four starts. The Las Vegas native threw for 1,181 yards and seven touchdowns against a pair of interceptions while completing 61.2 percent of his passes. In a 34-7 Liberty Bowl win over Mississippi State, Smith was named Offensive Player of the Game after accounting for 282 total yards and two touchdowns.

Both quarterbacks are starting fresh with the new offensive personnel in the building. It's a clean slate that won't hurt Shough's chances due to an unfortunate injury. It also won't take away from the success of Smith on the way to the program's first winning season since 2015. 

New offensive coordinator Zach Kittley returns to Lubbock after making history with Western Kentucky. After joining the program following his success as Houston Baptist's offensive coordinator, he reunited with former Huskies QB Bailey Zappe. 

Zappe won't go down in history as a Heisman finalist or national champion. He does, however, hold the FBS single-season record in passing yards (5,977) and passing touchdowns (62) previously set by Tech's B.J. Symons (5,833 yards) in 2003 and LSU's Joe Burrow (60 TDs) in 2019. 

Adaptability is essential to play the position at a high level. Shough takes the advantage as Kittley's spread-style offense will be his third in three seasons to learn. He also possesses a more accurate deep ball. 

Then again, there's the mobility aspect of Smith that adds more to his case of being the team's starter. Smith averaged 2.8 yards per attempt, but also scored three touchdowns on the ground. One area McGuire will still have to develop is the offensive line, which allowed 24 sacks a season ago. 

There isn't a wrong decision for the Red Raiders. Shough or Smith could likely defeat Murray State at home. Heck, they might be able to beat Houston a week later. 

It's looking at the bigger picture. The conference picture. Which quarterback provides the best chance to win in Week 4? Week 6? Week 10? 

McGuire might have the answer already. If he doesn't, he has seven weeks to solve the equation. 

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