Matt Wells and the Red Raiders are 2-0, and I’m not that happy about it. Last week I shook off my feelings of disappointment and did my best to chalk it up to the light competition. However, in multiple metrics, the Miners fall in the bottom five teams in FBS and many have argued that UTEP is also an inferior team to Montana State. I know you may be sitting there shaking your head thinking I’m nuts, and I get it. Texas Tech is 2-0, they’ve done what they were supposed to do and defeated their two opponents by a combined score of 83-13, they won both games at home decisively. But that word is what’s hanging on me, did those two wins feel decisive?
Maybe my expectations are skewed and my head is looking for high flying offensive domination and missing the strong defensive throwdowns that Tech has been bringing to its opponents, but it just all feels vanilla right now. I know that David Yost has an offense with big-play ability and playmakers with speed and athleticism. Maybe his style is pure simplicity and that’s going to be a big positive, but as I’ve watched the Red Raiders working screens against lesser competition I can’t help but feel there are storm clouds on the horizon when Big 12 speed and athleticism are on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Maybe vanilla is Matt Wells’s favorite flavor, and I’m good with that if it translates to wins. I don’t need to watch the old school Air Raid if the win column is filling up, but for now, I question the effectiveness until I see more.
I also make no illusions, this is the first year under an entirely new regime and there are still plenty of holes. This isn’t going to be a 10-win season, I don’t pretend it is or expect it to be. But the gut feeling I can’t shake is that I have no idea what to expect even after two wins. Is the defense as good as the box score shows? Is the offense capable of executing against conference competition? Can this team go on the road against a Power 5 team and go toe to toe? We’re going to find out very soon.
Dang Bro Award – Jordyn Brooks, LB
Brooks was last week’s Slow Clap Award winner but he was definitely a top performer this week. The Red Raiders’ 6’1, 245lb senior linebacker tallied 11 tackles on the day against UTEP with 6 of the solo variety and 1.5 tackles for loss. Brooks also chipped in another 5 assists and was a fixture in the backfield throughout the day. On top of the tackles for loss he had two quarterback hurries to his name. So for the second week in a row, Brooks leads all tacklers for the Red Raiders. There were plenty of positives defensively on the day as the Red Raiders only allowed 131 yards of offense from the UTEP Miners.
Slow Clap Award – Dalton Rigdon, WR
The Perryton, TX product was very effective for the Red Raiders with 6 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. His long reception on the day was a 49-yard touchdown strike from Alan Bowman but it was all Rigdon making it happen. He took a screen pass all the way down the sideline showing nice top-end speed on the run. Rigdon also chipped in another 17 yards on a rush ending his day with 83 total yards and one touchdown. Rigdon has shown nice offensive numbers with 62 yards receiving in the Montana State win as well. Not a bad start to the season at all for a former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship at the end of Fall camp.
New Guy Award – TJ Vasher, WR
I know TJ Vasher is not a new guy to this team at all. But, in week one he quietly had 6 catches for 72 yards, this week he notched another 6 for 78 yards, but the important addition was 2 touchdowns and he was the leading receiver on the day for the Red Raiders. Vasher, the 6’6, 210lb Wichita Falls Rider product has always seemed to have exceptional potential and has put his athleticism on display at times. The Red Raiders need him to assert himself and his height as a serious threat downfield this season.
Shining Star Award – DEFENSE
I almost gave this award to UTEP because they are impressively bad and have been for the previous two seasons. I do want Keith Patterson’s unit to get credit where it is due though as they absolutely shut down the offense of the Miners the entire day. They allowed only 54 yards passing and 77 yards rushing and tallied 3 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 7 quarterback hurries as a unit.
Amazing Place Award – The Club Level
I had some good friends bring me along to the Club Level on the West Side this week and it was everything I’ve ever wanted at Tech Football. Tech has done a nice job up there with a good buffet, full bars you can start a tab at, and generally a very social and fun atmosphere for watching football. I’ve said for a long time the only luxury area I’d ever buy tickets would be in the outdoor seats of the West Club and that was confirmed for me. If you get a chance to visit up there I highly recommend it. Our seats were outside and you get the game atmosphere with a little more room to wiggle as well as a great view of the full field.
The social aspect of that whole area is great with not only a crowd to sit with but also the occupants of various suites in and out of common areas as well. It was fun to see so many good friends, coworkers, and professional connections during the game rather than only at the gate or on the concourse.
Nope. I’m struggling here folks to find the high points, there weren’t big performers and there weren’t really a ton of bright spots other than the W. Alan Bowman’s numbers were even fairly pedestrian.