The most complete game of the year? I think that’s correct, at least for me. There were plenty of flaws, both sides of the ball, but this was a double-digit win on the road in the Big 12. On the Slack channel, Kyle said that this had not happened since 2008 against Kansas State and I’ll take his word for it. The first half was a thing of beauty offensively, 5 straight touchdown drives to start the game and then it was not so much awesomeness, but I’m not going to complain. The defense pretty much held West Virginia to 10 points for 95% of the game and I really don’t care too much about the last 5%. That was a trash touchdown so whatever.
The bad part is that West Virginia actually out-gained Texas Tech, 549 to 481, but they turned the ball over 3 times, all of those turnovers in the red zone. The defense is in a real bad spot. The secondary is struggling to just keep up with receivers and that of course doesn’t bode well for a team that won’t turn the ball over or is a better passing team.
2. The Offense
Some terrific numbers here, Jett Duffey was fantastic for the first half, 24 of 34 for 354 yards, which is 10.4 yards per attempt. The team ran for 127 total yards on 42 carries and 3 yards per attempt. That’s not the best percent, but considering that the offense essentially has just one healthy running back.
One other interesting statistic, Texas Tech was 4 of 14 on third downs and I know that 3 of those third down conversions came in the first drive of the game, so Texas Tech essentially converted 1 other third down for the rest of the game outside of the first drive. And still put up 35 points.
West Virginia wasn’t a terrible defense, they were okay for the Big 12, so to put up those numbers is pretty significant.
And then, Duffey and the offense did this without T.J. Vasher, who missed this game (not sure exactly why, maybe violation of team rules). Duffey went directly to the middle of the field and it was absolutely terrific, some terrific catches down the field and Duffey missed on a couple of passes, but Duffey missed 10 passes out of 34 for goodness sakes, so I’m not going to complain.
3. The Defense
I know everyone is up in arms about the offense, but I’m more concerned about the defense and the inability to stop anyone. I hate to pick on a particular player, but DeMarcus Fields is struggling at cornerback, to simply stay with his man. He’s not the only one, but son of a gun. West Virginia was a pretty terrible passing team before this game started, but they looked absolutely all-world against this secondary.
If we’re trying to be positive, the rushing defense only gave up 51 yards on 18 carries for 2.8 yards a carry. The defensive line played really well, but again, WVU wasn’t some sort of world-beater offensively, so I don’t want to celebrate this too much. The best thing was maybe the pass-rush, just 2 sacks, but it seemed like the WVU quarterback was under pressure all game.
I mentioned the turnovers, 4 total, but I suppose that we should also mention that West Virginia was 1 of 5 on 4th down and how many of those were in the red zone? Seemed like at least a couple
4. The Special Teams
Nothing special here, right? Kickoff returns could have been better maybe, but that’s being a bit petty. Austin McNamara averaged 45 yards a punt on 5 punts yesterday, while Trey Wolff connected on the only field goal opportunity and made all of his extra points. Chux Nwabuko is your punt returner and he is tiny, but he actually had a few yards on a couple of returns.
5. Offensive Notes
- Jett Duffey’s official numbers, 24 of 34 for 354 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. I think that Duffey almost threw 2 picks, but they didn’t happen so they don’t count. Duffey ended up with a quarterback rating of 167.8 and other than the Oklahoma State game, I think that this was his best performance of the year.
- Dalton Rigdon had the biggest play of the game, shaking loose on a seam route for 81 yards and finishing with 3 catches for 106 yards.
- Of all things, RJ Turner was targeted the most yesterday, 8 targets and only 3 catches for 48 yards, one of them a 32 yard catch.
- This was definitely a collective effort and although Duffey is getting plenty of credit for his improved play, the receivers are all catching the ball. Erik Ezukanma had 5 targets, 5 catches, and 70 yards in maybe his most consistent game of the year. Dona Thompson had 4 targets, 4 catches, and 46 yards. Ta’Zhawn Henry had 4 targets, 4 catches, and 28 yards. So yeah, all of these guys are catching the ball if it is thrown their way and it’s pretty terrific.
- From a health standpoint, the running backs are as banged up as I’ve ever seen them. Only down to 2 healthy scholarship running backs, Sarodorick Thopmson went out in the first half with an injury and did not return, but he still finished with 11 carries for 27 yards and 2 touchdowns. Henry had 22 carries for 67 yards and 2 touchdowns as well and those 22 carries are a season high, but 2 short of a career high which was last year against Houston where Henry had 24 carries against Houston.
- I thought the offensive line played really well, they blocked really well they looked good doing it. I really think the offensive line has improved pretty significantly this year. They seem like they’re playing with a bit more aggression and I enjoyed the two fourth down runs to score touchdowns, sort of, “you know it’s coming, but we’re doing it anyway” thing.
6. Defensive Notes
- Jordyn Brooks is the hero we didn’t deserve. That chase-down of that receiver was something that I thought he had no business making and grabbing that guy by the ankles and making a huge play was so terrific. Brooks day ended with 11 tackles, 9 of them solo, and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Hands-down, the best player on the field yesterday.
- I thought Zech McPhearson played well, could have one pass interference, but his side of the field largely okay. I think the huge completions are coming in zone coverage and just not covering the right receivers? That’s intended to be a question and I know that Douglas Coleman has made a ton of plays, add another one yesterday, I’m thinking that the safety spot is maybe the weakest link on the team? I’d love to read your thoughts on that as well.
- Demarcus Fields finished with 9 tackles (snide remark here about being constantly throw to) and just 1 pass break-up, but he did have an interception in the West Virginia’s end zone was pretty terrific. I think that Fields has tremendous athletic ability, but something isn’t connecting.
- I’m enjoying watching a lot of the ancillary pieces make plays, guys like Xavier Benson, Dadrion Taylor, Tyrique Matthews, Tony Bradford, Jaylon Hutchings, etc. These guys will be getting some serious playing time next year.
- Was really nice to see Eli Howard get a sack and some pressure, that tackle that Howard made where the quarterback had to throw the ball away was not considered a pressure officially, but it sure was one in my book.
(I’m) just proud of our guys, really proud of them (for) what they did all week. I think they practiced really hard. I think that gave us a chance before we ever got on the plane for a victory. (I’m) really proud of that. These guys just continue to fight, and I respect that locker room. They fight. They’re a bunch of fighters. Their backs have been against a wall. They responded in a great way during the bye week and obviously this week. (It was) a strong opening first half performance. (I’m) really proud of the turnovers, and our offense was able to capitalize with the touchdown. We’ve struggled with that a little bit this year. We turned it right into a touchdown and got that big lead. (The) second half was just kind of back and forth. We got some penalties on offense, and we got behind the chains a little bit. Again, (I’m) proud of our guys (in terms of) the effort and tenacity that they continue to play with. Hopefully this will be a win that springboards us for the way we practice for next week and the way we think about things. (I’m) just really proud of our guys.
On being successful in November:
I want to put an emphasis on November. I truly think you have to run the ball and you have to stop the run in the month of November. Holding them to 51 yards rushing, obviously 500 yards passing is not good for us – it’s good by them – but the interior of the defense is playing well right now. Stopping the run is important in the month of November, as well as running it. I think just the mindset with your players is just a belief. Hopefully it’s a spark that starts a big fire. It’s a belief, you just have to believe. As coaches, we are just trying to speak victory into them every day and talk to them about winning every day. How you walk into the building and how you practice and deserve a victory. I also think at the end of the year, it’s how you practice. I think it’s the discipline that you show off the field, the accountability and all of the things that everybody has at the beginning of the year. I think just the human spirit and the body get tired at the end of the year. It’s very natural. The teams that don’t let that set in have a little bit of extra juice because they practice a little bit better. I think that gives them juice. You get to Saturday and you have a better chance to win, then it’s another win. That’s what you’re really trying to do is just create a belief. That’s all I know to do with these guys.
On bouncing back after a loss:
Like I said earlier, I’m learning more about them every week. I respect them.Their backs have been against a wall. A lot of people are kind of counting us out. (We have) a little underdog mentality right now. I think they feel like they’re earning it during the week. We’re going to continue to push that in them. I like this group. They’re led by some good seniors. (Senior defensive linebacker) Broderick Washington (Jr.), (senior linebacker) Jordyn Brooks, (senior defensive back) Doug Coleman (III). (Senior defensive linebacker) Quentin Yontz plays on three special teams. Nobody in this room even knows who that is except me and Kirby. I don’t even think the SIDs know who that is, but that kid is the epitome of this program right now. He’s tough, he’s hard-nosed. And what a great leader on the sidelines, too, keeping everybody in it. Those senior offensive linemen continue to keep grinding. How about (senior tight end) Donta Thompson tonight? (He had) some really remarkable catches across the middle. (Senior wide receiver) R.J. Turner across the middle. There’s another senior stepping up. I’m really proud of those guys for making some competitive catches.
8. Stats and Things
- What the defense did really good was negative plays, especially compared to the West Virginia that had hardly any negative plays. Texas Tech had 9 tackles for a loss for -29 yards, while WVU had 4 for -6. That’s maximizing those negative plays on TTU’s end and making sure that any negative plays on offense were minimized. Add in 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions and that’s a pretty terrific turnover day, +4 if you’re keeping track.
- Texas Tech scored on 5 of 6 red zone attempts, while West Virginia was only 2 of 5.
- The Texas Tech defense held West Virginia to 6 of 16 on 3rd downs, including the average 3rd down distance being 8 yards.
- Really hardly noticed the penalties, 6 for 55, the biggest infraction for me was maybe the holding in the red zone in the second half (I’m thinking there was a penalty after the Ezukanma catch that made it 1st and goal from the 3 or so).
- On 1st down, Texas Tech passed 15 times and ran the ball 6 times. When you’re completing passes, that’s a good thing.
- For the game, Texas Tech ran the ball 42 times and passed 34 times.
- Texas Tech averaged 7.2 yards for every first down.
- Time of possession was essentially split evenly, 30:12 for Texas Tech and 29:48 for West Virginia.
9. Looking Ahead
Myself and my boys will be there on Saturday morning to face the hated Horned Frogs! Kickoff is set for 11:00 a.m. so I’ll be full of cheladas and ready to go for the game!
10. The Final Word
Before this game started, I felt that Texas Tech had a significantly better quarterback and a better offense . . . by far. I figured the defense would give up more points, but I think my game prediction was 35-24, so I predicted a double-digit win over the Mountaineers on the road. I’ll take it. This also breaks a 5-game losing streak to WVU, so I’ll take that as well. Bring on the Horned Frogs!