In a press conference on Wednesday, Texas Tech head football coach Matt Wells confirmed that junior quarterback Henry Colombi is the current starter for Tech football. Wells said Colombi has already began taking snaps with the team’s starters, and Bowman has been shifted down to second huddle reps.
Colombi has gotten in-game experience the last two competitions for Tech against both Kansas State and Iowa State.
The first start of Colombi’s Tech career came against the Wildcats on Oct.3. The opportunity came after sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman suffered a lower leg injury after an illegal hit. Bowman was sidelined for the rest of the competition, and Colombi took his place.
While Bowman was on the field, Tech’s offense was stagnant, and scored no points through the first half. After Colombi’s entry, the Red Raider offense marched down the field and got into field goal territory right before halftime but was unable to convert on the field goal.
Following the halftime period, Colombi was more engaged on the offensive end.
After zero points in the first half for Tech, the new, Colombi-led Red Raider offense put together three-straight scoring drives. He looked more comfortable, and Wells spoke on it following the game.
“Henry has been in this offense for three years now, so he knows it and he’s practiced it since he’s been at Tech,” Wells said.
Against the Wildcats, Colombi threw for 244 yards (30-42) with two touchdowns and an interception, according to ESPN.
Despite the loss, Colombi proved that he could lead the Red Raider offense on productive scoring drives. The Utah State transfer brought Tech back from down 14 points against Kansas State, which almost resulted in a victory.
Colombi’s smooth transition into Tech’s offense can be attributed to the fact that he’s essentially been in it throughout his collegiate career.
In fact, Wells and offensive coordinator David Yost recruited Colombi out of Chamindae Madonna College Prep high school back in 2016.
The Hollywood, Florida, product threw for 1,520 yards (72-100) with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions his senior year, according to Tech Athletics. But the former Utah State staff admired more than Colombi’s mere throwing ability.
The same year, Colombi rushed for 590 yards on 26 carries, according to Tech Athletics. He averaged 22.7 yards per carry as a senior and led his team to the state title game.
Colombi’s running game has transferred to the collegiate level, and although Wells would not describe him as a definitive dual-threat quarterback, he gives the offense another element on the ground.
“I just think, and so does David, that we just have to have the ability at QB to be able to move in the pocket,” Wells said. “You can have in this offense a pocket passer who was limited mobility, but it just really limits what you can do.”
On the season, Bowman has four rushes for 21 yards, according to ESPN. In contrast, Colombi 14 rushes for 51 yards.
Even though the numbers are closer than expected, a lot of Bowman’s runs out of the pocket have been a very seldom result of a forced run; unlike Colombi, who has the ability to run more comfortably and will resort to his feet more willingly.
At Utah State, Colombi was mostly a backup quarterback, but he still got in-game experience from time to time.
As a sophomore, he had 221 total passing yards (20-29) with two touchdowns and one interception, according to Tech Athletics. He also had 14 rushing attempts for 31 yards, including one rushing touchdown.
Colombi threw for more yardage in his Red Raider debut (239) yards than his entire sophomore season as a sophomore at Utah State (221).
Next game at Tech, the situation was almost identical, but instead of injury, Bowman and the Red Raider offense were just struggling.
In the first half, Tech had 69 yards of total offense in contrast to the opposing Cyclones’ 325, according to ESPN. Bowman and the Red Raiders also did not enter the red zone at all through two quarters of play on offense.
Tech’s only score came from a blocked punt which led to an immediate touchdown. Offensively, however, the Red Raiders were scoreless.
With no sign of life halfway through the fourth quarter, Wells and Tech’s coaching staff made the decision to sit Bowman and insert Colombi; a decision that had an immediate impact.
On Colombi’s first possession of the game, he and the Red Raiders drove 88 yards, which included a fourth down conversion, and rifled an 18-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Erik Ezukanma for Tech’s first offensive points of the game.
The drive included eight total passes, six of which were completed, for 63 yards. Colombi also showed his ability to run, as he tallied three rushes for 15 yards as well.
Colombi had one more drive with the fourth quarter winding down, but was stopped on fourth down. Colombi only had two drives on the game, but exceeded Bowman, who had 10 total drives, in every statistical category.
Bowman finished the game with 97 passing yards (13-22) with no touchdowns, no rushes and a quarterback rating of 96.1, according to ESPN. In contrast, Colombi finished his two-drive outing with 115 passing yards (10-12) with one touchdown, and six rushes for 11 yards, which would have been more if he was not sacked, and a 191.3 rating.
After their current bye-week, the Red Raiders are scheduled to play against West Virginia at 4:30 p.m. at Jones AT&T Stadium on Oct. 24, and Colombi is expected to start.
“We’re going to make a change at quarterback,” Wells said. “Henry Colombi is going to start against West Virginia. I think he’s played well.”
The Red Raiders have started the season 1-3. A record that they are looking to improve, but will not dwell upon. Wells also does not blame Bowman for the rough start.
“Alan (Bowman) has played okay, he has not played bad,” Wells said. “He is not the reason we’re 1-3.”
The bye-week for Tech will give them a chance to recover physically.
Also, timing seemed to be particularly good for the choice to bring Colombi to the forefront of the offense, as the bye-week gives him an extra chance to play with the starters and build chemistry.
Wells said that Colombi has already began getting reps with the first team starters, and that Bowman is now getting reps with the second team.
Although Wells has put in place a new starting quarterback, he is not ready to give up on his two-year starter.
“At some point, Alan Bowman will be given another chance. I just don’t know when it is,” Wells said.
Currently, Bowman sits ninth in the conference out of 10 quarterback in pass efficiency, according to Big 12 stats. He sits at a 131.7 efficiency rating despite having a pair of top-five receivers in the conference as outlets.
The Red Raiders will look to improve on all fronts moving forward against the Mountaineers after their bye-week.
But for now, Tech will continue to scheme and game plan internally in the time they do not have an opponent.