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The Morning Stake: September 4th

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  • A-J Media’s Don Williams writes about the lightning bolts of big plays that were Derrick Willies and Justin Stockton against Eastern Washington:

    Kingsbury says Willies has it in him.

    “It’s great that he believes in me after all the ups and downs of last year,” said Willies, who finished with four catches for 126 yards in a season-opening 56-10 victory. “That’s just awesome.”

    Tech got glimpses of Willies’ talent last year. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound wideout had a 59-yard catch at Arizona State. But one injury after another put him on the sideline nearly as often as on the field. The whole time, Kingsbury never backed off praising a work ethic he says matches the ability.

    “He sees me every day in practice,” Willies said, “so he knows what I’m capable of doing when I’m healthy. It (the support) is definitely awesome.”

  • A-J Media’s Nicholas Talbot writes about the debut of Nic Shimonek:

    Texas Tech destroyed FCS perennial powerhouse Eastern Washington 56-10 at Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday. And while the Tech defense looked better than it has in a long, long time, it was Shimonek who set the tone.

    The transfer from Iowa took over the game, looking the part of an Air Raid quarterback.

    No, he isn’t Patrick Mahomes II.

    That guy is a freak of nature. Just ask Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who is looking over his shoulder a lot more than he would like these days.

    Regardless, Shimonek looks like he will do quite nicely for Texas Tech (1-0) this season. Against Eastern Washington (0-1), he brought back shades of Air Raid extraordinaires Taylor Potts, Seth Doege and maybe even Graham Harrell.

  • A-J Media’s Nicholas Talbot has three things from the game and here’s part of the first one:

    After one game it would appear the Red Raiders’ defense is improved from the last few seasons. Texas Tech held Eastern Washington, which led the FCS in passing last season with 401 yards per game, to a paltry 220. More importantly, it also forced turnovers — none bigger than Willie Sykes’ 33-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the third quarter. The first turnover came in the first quarter when safety Jah’Shawn Johnson was able to loosen the ball from the grasp of Eastern Washington receiver Nic Sblendorio. Douglas Coleman jumped on the ball. Tech’s defense gave up 81 yards rushing and only 301 total yards.

  • Spokesman’s Jim Allen writes about how Eastern Washington didn’t really have any answers yesterday:

    The result was Eastern’s worst defeat since a 59-7 loss at California in 2009.

    That was shocking, considering Eastern had been there, done that several times against Pac-12 teams – enough that another Power-5 victory seemed attainable in head coach Aaron Best’s debut.

    This time they didn’t even have to fight a hostile crowd; attendance at Jones AT&T Stadium was announced at 54,988, but barely half that number showed for the opening kickoff.

    However, the Eagles still needed to check the boxes: establish some semblance of a running game, win the turnover battle and keep the pressure on statuary quarterback Nic Shimonek.

    Eastern did none of the above, and the game devolved into a shoving match they couldn’t win no matter how much physicality Best had emphasized in the offseason.

  • Amarillo Globe-News’ Lance Lahnert writes that Texas Tech was pretty good on both sides of the ball:

    But let’s give these Red Raiders, a group tagged for no better than a .500 season but one I think will shock many by winning nine game, credit for Saturday’s W before worrying about Arizona State.

    Besides the can Kliff save his job question hovering over this season, two other strong question marks rode along side Kliff’s riding into Saturday’s opener.

  • A-J Media’s Don Williams writes about all of the transfers that contributed to Saturday’s win:

    Tech safety Vaughnte Dorsey from Mississippi Gulf Coast and rush end Tony Jones from Butler (Kan.) Community College expressed that Sunday, the day after taking part in a 56-10 conquest of Eastern Washington.

    “It was breathtaking coming out of the tunnel,” Jones said, “with all the smoke and all the fans there. It was just a great experience.”

    “The experience was definitely a dream come true,” Dorsey said. “I never could imagine myself on this stage, but it’s definitely a blessing, and I loved the atmosphere.”

  • A-J Media’s Don Williams writes about how the team played well, but there are still things to clean up before Arizona State next week:

    Kingsbury said that was his main takeaway from the Red Raiders’ 56-10 victory Saturday against Eastern Washington.

    “I felt like we played hard for most of the game,” Kingsbury said after the team’s Sunday workout. “I think both teams got tired in the second half, but I thought the effort from both sides of the football and special teams was there. We’ve got a lot to clean up — had a bunch of penalties and a bunch of mental errors — but overall played very hard.”

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