A reeling Texas Longhorns rush defense will have to face a running quarterback on Saturday, as Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced that redshirt sophomore Jett Duffey will start on Saturday in Lubbock in place of freshman Alan Bowman, according to Longhorn Network’s Alex Loeb.
Duffey fell just short of leading Texas Tech over Oklahoma last weekend at Jones AT&T Stadium after Bowman took a shot to the ribs in the first half and was unable to complete warmups during halftime.
The standout freshman was eventually taken to the hospital because he’d suffered a reoccurrence of the partially collapsed lung originally sustained against West Virginia in late September. Bowman rejoined team activities on Thursday following his release from the hospital.
The school hasn’t said whether he will be available against Texas or whether he will return to the field.
If Duffey does end up starting, he will provide an element that Bowman does not — running ability. Listed at a generous 6’1 and 200 pounds, Duffey is undersized, but ran a 4.60 40-yard dash and a 4.16 shuttle in high school. So although Duffey isn’t Kyler Murray, he does have elite agility.
Those wheels allowed Duffey to run for more than 80 yards and score a rushing touchdown in each of his first three appearances this season. In games against Lamar and TCU, he had runs of 37 yards and 38 yards, respectively.
So the Longhorns are busy preparing to face a healthy dose of the quarterback run game, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said on Wednesday, while preparing to use a base nickel defense featuring junior B-backer Jeffrey McCulloch to counter the rushing threat of the Red Raiders.
However, Orlando noted that Duffey can throw from the pocket, too, so the Longhorns cornerbacks and safeties will have to play better this week — Duffey threw for 139 yards and two touchdowns against the Sooners in a single half and turned in a winning performance against the Horned Frogs.
If there’s one area where Duffey struggles, though, it’s in making good decisions consistently, as he’s thrown four interceptions against his four touchdowns this season. As a result, his interception rate stands at 5.0 percent, a number that would register as truly poor over an entire season.