Michigan’s quarterback room has a new addition in the form of grad-transfer Alan Bowman.
The former Texas Tech starting QB joins a room that has redshirt sophomore Cade McNamara, redshirt freshman Dan Villari, and true freshman J.J. McCarthy.
Michigan lost Joe Milton and Dylan McCaffrey to the transfer portal, and bolstering the depth at quarterback became a necessity.
Despite the upside of five-star McCarthy, and the flashes of solid play from McNamara in a game versus Rutgers, the Michigan QB room is inexperienced and there wasn’t enough depth before Bowman entered.
Bowman has a good chunk of experience and still has three years left of eligibility. Bowman put up impressive numbers during his freshman season in 2018, where he threw for 2,638 yards, 17 TDs, and a 69.4 completion percentage. In all, the 6-foot-3, 215 pound QB has thrown for 5,260 yards and 33 touchdowns in 19 games. Bowman’s suffered a few injuries throughout his first three years ( fractured rib, partially collapsed lung, re-collapsed lung, ankle injury) that derailed his playing time and progress.
Bowman is known to be fiery, a leader. He’s known to have a strong arm but the ability to throw with touch as well. For a brief scouting report on Bowman, we asked our colleagues over at SB Nation’s Texas Tech site Viva The Matadors their take on the pros and cons to Bowman’s game.
Viva The Matadors on Bowman:
Alan Bowman is pretty controversial among Tech fans. On the one hand, we all remember how he stormed onto the scene against Houston after injuries left Tech’s quarterback room depleted. On the other hand, his injuries that season likely resulted in Kingsbury’s dismissal and he has been regularly banged up. He showed a high ceiling, but regularly disappointed. Bowman has elite arm strength, and he can really put some touch on his throws. But after the injury bug he never got back the confident gunslinger who was on his way to an upset over the Kyler Murray led Sooners. His deep ball touch really left him, and his decision making seemed stuck in check-down mode. The ball was floating on him more this year than previous years, and he lost his starting job. However, in Alan’s defense, David Yost was fired this year after priding himself on a screen orientated passing attack. We will actually never know how much of Bowman’s regression was his own doing, and how much was the result of a terrible offensive system. That and Tech’s offensive line was quite bad at times when trying to provide protection. To look more positively, Alan will thrive behind a good offensive line and if he gets his confidence back his ability to process information is high. I believe change of venue will do him wonders. He can be a truly elite quarterback in the right scenario. Now, I’m not sure Michigan runs an offense that compliments Alan’s talents but the kid at his best is as good as any signal caller. If he gets back to form, I’m not kidding when I say he’s good enough to help Michigan challenge Ohio State. Pre-injury Alan was on pace to do some really special things, and being buried in a bad offense played some factor in his regression. If Harbaugh can build Bowman’s confidence, and keep him protected, he can rock the Big Ten.
To summarize: He has plenty of tools, but injuries and a bad system resulted in a regression each season.
From what we can gather from the scouting report, it appears Texas Tech had a bad offensive system and a poor offensive line, both of which won’t help a quarterback thrive. The scouting report eludes to the fact Bowman could become elite in the right situation, and he may even be able to help Michigan beat Ohio State. Granted, whether Michigan is indeed the right situation remains to be seen.
It’s worth noting that Bowman’s best season (freshman year) at Texas Tech came with Kliff Kingsbury as head coach. Kingsbury got a solid effort out of Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech, and Kingsbury has gotten good production out of Kyler Murray as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Point being, Kingsbury’s had a track record of coaching some good QBs, and Bowman was one of his pupils. Bowman excelled in Kingsbury’s downfield attack and didn’t fare as well with offensive coordinator David Yost’s screen-oriented, gimmicky scheme.
Bowman’s a player who has thrown for more passing yards in a game than any NFL QB ever has. Playing against Houston isn’t the same as the NFL, but throwing for 607 yards and 5 TDs is one hell of a day. That effort from Bowman, in just the second start in his career, gave him all the confidence he needed to go on the road the following week, throw for 397 yards, and beat No. 15 Oklahoma State.
Bowman was considered to be the best quarterback available in the transfer portal, and Jim Harbaugh went and got him. The transfer portal, along with the new rule which allows players one transfer with immediate eligibility, is undoubtedly bringing an element of ‘free agency’ that didn’t used to exist. More quarterbacks are going to be lost to the portal, like Milton and McCaffrey in Michigan’s case, and more will be gained, like Bowman. It’s a new reality, it’s something that will take some getting used to, but the future is here in that regard nonetheless.
Adding Bowman to Michigan’s QB equation was a no-brainer. Whether he performs at a high level is an answer that hasn’t yet been solved. And the same can be said for all of the other quarterbacks on Michigan’s roster. The bottom line was Michigan’s depth chart at QB was incredibly light, and one or two injuries could have decimated the little depth they did have. Bowman alleviates that problem. The fact that Bowman has experience is an added bonus.
Bowman isn’t going to be handed the keys, he’ll have to earn his keep. He’ll be treated the same as McNamara, and as five-star McCarthy. A QB competition shouldn’t coincide with who someone’s favorite is, it should reside with who is getting the job done at the highest level on the field. With a new co-offensive coordinator in Sherrone Moore joining Josh Gattis in that capacity, there’s a new quarterbacks coach in Matt Weiss as well. The opening night starter last season, Joe Milton, is now gone. This is somewhat of a fresh start for Michigan’s offense, and certainly its quarterbacks room. And now Bowman has the fresh start he needs as well.