3 storylines to watch against Texas Tech

23 Sep By
Strong-armed quarterback Alan Bowman has led the Texas Tech offense since his freshman season, but Saturday will mark his first chance to take the field against the Texas Longhorns (photo courtesy of texastech.com).

Yes, Texas has won the last five meetings in Lubbock. Yes, Texas is a prohibitive favorite over Texas Tech this Saturday. But this is 2020, the year to expect the unexpected. The past two contests between the Red Raiders and Longhorns in Lubbock have been decided in each game's final seconds. There is no reason to expect it to be a different in 2020. Here are three storylines to watch at Texas takes the field Saturday.

New quarterback, new experience
Any athlete will say that facing an unfamiliar player, even one who plays for a familiar opponent, is a challenge in itself. Nothing can prepare a defense to face a quarterback like actually going up against him in a game setting. The Longhorns will have this challenge on Saturday when the UT defense goes up against Red Raider quarterback Alan Bowman. Bowman is a unique case: he has been Texas Tech's starter for two seasons prior to 2020, but he never has played against the Horns. In 2018, he missed the showdown with a collapsed lung. Last year, a shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines as Texas rolled to a 49-24 win on Thanksgiving weekend. In the 2020 version of the game, he likely will be the Horns' biggest challenge, with head coach Tom Herman noting Monday that he and his team "will have our work cut out for us."

“We had always thought, when healthy, this guy was one of the better ones in the Big 12. I think he proved that two Saturdays ago with his performance against Houston Baptist,” Herman said. “We definitely know that he is more than capable."

While saving his team from a near upset, Bowman threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns and for another 21 yards against Houston Baptist.

Gameday decisions for Texas at the slot receiver position
Earlier in the week, it was expected that sophomore wide receiver Jake Smith would return from injury for Saturday's game against Texas Tech. If so, he would be penciled in as the starter in the slot, especially with Jordan Whittington now out for the next two to four weeks with a meniscus tear. However, Herman announced Monday that he was not so sure if Smith would be able to play in Lubbock.

“We’re going to try to get him running on the ground tomorrow or Wednesday,” Herman said. “I think Wednesday or Thursday we’ll know a lot more with him.”

Texas head coach Tom Herman said he and his staff will know later this week whether Jake Smith will be healthy enough to reclaim the starting slot receiver job (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

That leaves the slot receiver position wide open if Smith indeed needs more recovery time. According to this week's depth chart, the starter would be one of two newcomers; either walk-on Kai Money or Oregon transfer Brenden Schooler, each of whom scored a touchdown in the season opener.

Schooler vs. Schooler?
Speaking of Schooler, it will be a homecoming of sorts for the California native in Lubbock, where he will face off against his brother, Colin, a starting linebacker for the Red Raiders. With Brenden Schooler possibly seeing playing time in the slot, and his brother playing as an outside linebacker, we could see a Schooler-Schooler matchup Saturday. Both were supposed to play at Arizona this season, but when the Pac-12 cancelled its football season, the two were forced to part ways in the Lone Star state.

Against UTEP, Brenden Schooler registered two receptions for 65 yards. Colin Schooler is currently second among active Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in career tackles with 312.

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Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. Twitter: @ZayasRiley