1. Welcome to the Texas Tech rushing attack. After a pretty dismal showing last week against Oklahoma State, the big guys up front were moving bodies and making lanes for Nisby, Stockton, and probably you to run through. Mason Reed had some big blocks, particularly on Nisby’s 47 yard touchdown run. The official number of rushing yards for the day came up to 313, which almost eclipses last week’s total by 600%. Texas Tech Football’s Twitter account claimed that this is the highest total of rushing yards since pouring on 325 against New Mexico in 2012.
2. If the running game is there, Kingsbury will take it. Out of 79 plays, a Texas Tech runningback was handed the ball a whopping 45 times.
“We needed to improve in that area. Last week it really hurt us not being able to consistently run the ball versus boxes that we should have been able to run into. So that was good to see; when they gave us the opportunity to run it, we moved bodies and those guys did a good job of finishing runs.” – Kliff Kingsbury
I have been critical of Kingsbury’s playcalling, especially in short yardage situations where the ball gets put in the air. I will try to keep this game in mind as today proves he has no issue with running it all day long if it’s working.
3. The slow starts didn’t make the trip. On both sides of the ball, Texas Tech came out with purpose and focus. The coaches did a great job getting these guys ready to play a morning game in Lawrence, and the players were fired up from the kickoff. This was the first game of the season that Texas Tech made it to the end zone on their opening drive offensively, and then they put 7 more on the board on the second drive. The defense, meanwhile, took care of business with two 4th & 1 stops in back-to-back series to allow Tech to go up to an early 21-0 lead.
“Yes sir it was very important, we had to start fast, defense was doing their best abilities and offense had the chance to go down there and score and we did.” – Justin Stockton
“We have just been preparing the same way each week, we knew we had been starting slow in the past but it was a new opportunity to start fast and we did that this week and hopefully we can do that again next week.” – Jah’Shawn Johnson
Obviously, this was a point of focus for the players coming in to this game.
4. The runningbacks put on a show. This game had it all: tough runs through defensive personnel, runs after contact, and big breakaways. Desmond Nisby handed Kansas a half-Ballage with four touchdowns on 11 carries for 93 yards. Justin Stockton really found his groove today, hauling the ball 15 times for 161 yards. That math works out to 10.7 ypc. Move the chains, fellas.
5. Quan Shorts got the start over Derrick Willies. It hasn’t been easy to see Willies have some tough games in the last few outings with some pretty crucial drops. Still, I was surprised to see that Kingsbury put him on the sideline. Willies didn’t see the ball until late in the fourth when he hauled in a touchdown pass from McLane Carter. Shorts, however, made a great case for his position as a starter catching every pass sent his way. Four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown will keep you on the field.
6. Keke Coutee was back. Despite recovering from a knee injury, Coutee was back in the lineup. You could tell that he wasn’t 100%, yet still managed 8 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Kliff on Coutee: “Proud of the way he toughed it out. Didn’t practice much, really, just a little bit Thursday, came out, was effective.”
— Don Williams (@AJ_DonWilliams) October 7, 2017
It always gives me an uneasy feeling to see players out on the field when they’re dealing with an injury. Fortunately, it didn’t backfire on Tech.
7. The defense continues to create turnovers. This has been one of the most fun things to watch this year. Texas Tech came away with two interceptions (Justus Parker & Dakota Allen) and two fumble recoveries (hello again, Parker, & Eli Howard). The timing of some of this is what I find the most interesting. After a three-and-out by the offense in the second quarter, the defense immediately came out and grabbed an interception. Tech scored three plays later.
Then, after a fumble in the red zone gave KU the ball in the third, Tech created a fumble of their own on defense two plays later that resulted in a defensive touchdown.
That mythical “momentum” that I believe really affects the flow and ultimately the outcomes of games was completely on the side of the Red Raiders in these instances. We know how it feels to have the wind taken out of your sails after a great play. It’s nice to return the favor once in a while.
8. Speaking of game flow, this play is under review. This goes back to having your team prepared to play. I read that the official reviews in the first quarter, all 6 or 7 of them, added over 40 minutes to the length of the game. You’re trying to stay focused while on the road, playing against a team you’ve beaten 17 out of 18 times in a bare stadium, it’s 11am, and the guys in stripes are completely biffing the whole flow of the game. Just add that to another thing that this team successfully navigated in Lawrence. I was very impressed with the in-game maturity of this team today. I think that can also be quantified by pointing out they were only flagged for two penalties.
9. There were some not so great things. Tech special teams had another snafu on a punt which gave KU a short field and, after many reviews, their first touchdown. There was also a missed field goal, but from 44 yards out in college, that’s not a high percentage kick. Shimonek had a poorly thrown ball intercepted, but I hesitated to even mention it considering it was one of only five incompletions on the day. I probably miss the trash can 5 times a day.
10. Swarm, indeed. The defense was all over the place, particularly the linebackers. There were a lot of well-executed solo tackles that probably would’ve been misses a season or two ago. Brooks, Allen, and Johnson were everywhere, getting tackles behind the lines of scrimmage, hurrying the quarterback, and getting turnovers. Coach Gibbs is making progress, without a doubt.
10a. This is a thing that happened in Norman.
— Cyclone Swess (@SwessBall) October 7, 2017