LUBBOCK, Texas – Tommy Tuberville has made his pick to run Texas Tech's high-flying offense in the season opener.
Taylor Potts will start over Stephen Sheffield against SMU on Sept. 5 after the two performed "about the same" through the first two weeks of practice. The decision hinged on which senior can execute what Tuberville wants out of the offense and Potts got the nod after the team's second scrimmage over the weekend.
"We just felt like Taylor had a better grasp in terms of consistency," Tuberville said. "I mean, this wasn't rocket science."
How do Potts and Sheffield feel about the decision? Their takes are off limits to the media for now: Tuberville did not let either one answer questions Monday.
"It was a very hard decision," Tuberville said. "Obviously, I feel bad for Stephen because he worked just as hard as anybody. But again that's part of competition. He's got the ability and the right now to go out and prove as we go along that he is the best."
Sheffield will get plenty of snaps in practice, only not with the first team. Teammates know that like last year he'll be ready. He took over after Potts got a concussion in a win over New Mexico and led the Red Raiders to victories over Kansas State and at Nebraska.
"I'm sure he's disappointed but at the same time getting on the field is as quick as one play," said running back Baron Batch. "And everybody knows that. That's why you have to come out and still prepare like you're the starter."
Sheffield and Potts each had surgery in March. Sheffield, who threw for 1,219 yards and 14 touchdowns in six games in last season, needed to repair to the same bone in his left foot that he injured in October at Nebraska.
Potts, who threw for 3,440 yards and 22 touchdowns in 11 games last season, needed surgery to fix an injury between his index finger and middle finger he got hitting a helmet while throwing.
Potts has made strides, Batch said.
"I think he's just playing football," he said. "I think a big thing that kind of got him in trouble was he just thought too much. I think he's just going out and having fun and playing, and that's really the biggest difference.
Potts was booed by home fans during a 52-30 loss to Texas A&M last season. That experience, Batch said, matured him.
"He went through a lot last year, a lot of things that a lot of players didn't have to go through," Batch said. "He was booed off the field, no one wanted to see him in there and he never complained one time. Going through all that has made him that much of a better player and a quarterback."
Tuberville said he's got options with Sheffield, a fan favorite last season who is mobile outside the pocket.
He's got as much confidence in Sheffield, he said, as Potts.
"I wouldn't have any qualms of going in the first game and just flip-flopping and putting Stephen in there, but I want the players to know that Taylor is the guy that we're going to put out there," Tuberville said. "Did we make the right decision? I think we did, just in terms of what we're doing right now."