Football

Ten Things: Texas Tech 34, West Virginia 27

A big win.

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1. One-Possession Game Win. Woooo what a game. Tough, hard-fought, excellent win. And now Wells is 2-5 in one-possession wins and I’ll take it. And what a way to start for Henry Colombi, where the team was missing T.J. Vasher, KeSean Carter, Dalton Rigdon, McLane Mannix, Nick McCann, Seth Collins, Chaddarius Townsend, Tyrique Matthews, Caleb Killian, Zach Adams and Casey Verhulst. Then to lose SaRodorick Thompson and Xavier White during the course of the game? The expectation to win a game when there are so many players out is a bit crazy, but there were a lot of players that stepped-up. That makes it even tougher to win and Texas Tech pulled out a win that maybe they shouldn’t have even been in given all of those players out.

2. Fortuitous Drive. I thought that the drive in the second quarter, the 5th drive of the game I think, where it was 13 plays and 75 yards and full of ups and downs, but maybe had the biggest impact on the game. Colombi completes a pass for 11 yards, and then the next play he gets sacked forcing 2nd and 15, so that’s already tough. A completion to Price and and a scramble by Colombi gets the 1st down. The next play is a completion to Price again, and that’s the play that was called a fumble, and West Virginia’s Fields celebrates on the field and WVU gets a 15 yard penalty. That’s a huge turn of events. Then the very next play Carde holds, maybe his first of the game and puts Texas Tech at 1st and 20. Colombi has his best bit of passing of the entire game, he completes4 straight passes including a 4th and 10 that he actually completes to Erik Ezukanma. Ridiculous that Colombi threaded the needle on that one. And then, on 3rd and 8, Colombi hits Trey Cleveland, where Cleveland gets hammered at the goal line, for his first touchdown of his career. That drive alone was a huge drive and puts Texas Tech up 20-10 and I’d also add that this drive used over 6 minutes of time and was just grinding the whole drive.

3. 7 Points in the 4th. That’s it. that was the entire points scored by both teams in the 4th quarter and it wasn’t even an offensive touchdown, it was a strip by Jacob Morganstern strip (and maybe Colin Schooler) and a Zech McPhearson scoop and run into the endzone. That play put the game away and that’s 3 transfers that make the play. That’s huge.

And then on offense, Colombi had 158 passing yards to start the 4th quarter and ended up with 169 for the game, so the offense obviously sputtered, but much like the defense ground West Virginia down, the offense did the same to the West Virginia defense and they did it with a M.A.S.H. unit of players that had to step up. A left tackle that gets replaced (Ethan Carde is replaced by true freshman Caleb Rogers and played better). Texas Tech’s offense would eat up 4:25 minutes of clock to only leaving West Virginia with only :42 seconds of time left to drive 83 yards and maybe a better opposing quarterback gets it done, but that’s not what happened this game.

4. Stats. WVU ate up 438 of total offense and averaged 5.5 yards a play on 79 total plays. The biggest difference in this game were two stats, I think. First of all, West Virginia averaged 3.2 yards per rush on 1st down, which means they really weren’t getting a ton on first down and they did that 9 times. The other big stat was that West Virginia completed 4 of 15 for 26.7%. Not only that, but West Virginia really failed (or the defense shined) because WVU was only 2 of 6 on third downs when it was 3rd and less than 4 yards to go. That’s just not good enough.

In comparison, Texas Tech was 8 of 16 on 3rd downs and in those 3rd and shorts, was 5 of 7. So all of the easy ones they converted and got it done.

5. Substance Over Style. I really didn’t think I’d see the day when Texas Tech would have more rushing yards than passing yards in a game. But who cares? Henry Colombi passed 22 of 28 for 169 yards and a touchdown (no interceptions and maybe only 1 pass that he shouldn’t have thrown it) and the offense ran for 179 yards and most of those yards were just ground out. Colombi wasn’t perfect, but he was really just good enough and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Oh, and if the running yards was adjusted for sacks, Texas Tech actually ran for 193 total yards.

6. Big Defense. The fact that the defense held the West Virginia offense to just 91 rushing yards (96 if you don’t include the 1 sack) and that was the play of the game. The good and bad for all of this is that the back half of the defense really struggles, but the front half is good and they’re having to play walk-on’s at defensive tackle and that’s not supposed to happen. So for the defense to absolutely stop the WVU rushing attack really stopped the defense entirely.

7. Things I Like. I thought the linebackers really did have the best game of the season, Riko Jeffers and Colin Schooler were great and I thought that Demarcus Fields was absolute fantastic. On the interior, I thought that Tony Bradford was pretty good too . . . Erik Ezukanma and Myles Price are absolute beasts. The receivers game-to-game almost never disappoint and it’s crazy to think that this position group has had to dip to freshmen and redshirt freshmen and they’re really prepared. For the record, of the 28 attempts, Texas Tech had 5 drops . . . I hope that SaRodorick Thompson and Xavier White are okay, but I’m not holding my breath, Thompson looks like a rib injury and that’s a bad thing for a running back and White looks like a shoulder injury, also bad for a quarterback, but when they did play, they played really well, Thompson had 68 yards on 8 attempts for a long run of 48 yards and a touchdown, while White had 6 of 14 yards and asked to run some really tough runs. Tahj Books getting 12 carries and 44 yards, most of them in the second half, were fantastic . . . Last but not least, Austin McNamara absolutely booming that punt out of his end zone was a huge flip of the table. Believe it or not, he only averaged 42 yards a punt with one of those being that 87 yard punt. Unbelievable . . . 3 penalties for 19 yards . . .

8. Things I Don’t Like. I do not know how Eric Monroe is still getting significant playing time and it seems as if he is on the bad end of one of the touchdowns and there are times where I think he’s quitting on plays . . . Ethan Carde really struggled and I might be fine with Caleb Rogers getting the start on Saturday. The quickness bothers Carde and I guarantee that will be a focus for Oklahoma . . . That’s pretty much it . . .

Quotes. Head coach Matt Wells:

“Well, just extremely proud of our players. It’s a really good West Virginia team that Neal Brown has. They’ve got skill, a really good quarterback that I have a lot of respect for, really good d-line and I think they are a very well coached on defense. Just so proud of our players. That was a 15-round fight and you traded blows and just kind of went back and forth. We made one huge play at the end, we forced them to fumble and Zech (McPhearson) picked it up and ran it in. Proud of our o-line, tight end, Tahj Brooks – a true freshman running back there taking over four minutes off the clock at the end and then made one play. That’s what it comes down to, find a way to make a play and win a game. Extremely proud of them. Thankful for the fans, really good atmosphere in the stadium, they were loud, I think they affected the game, especially towards the end. I am very appreciative of our band and the support groups there. But all of our fans, I thought did an excellent job tonight, so very appreciative of them and can’t wait to hear them next week. Halloween night,
night kickoff against Oklahoma.

Wells on what this means for the program to win a close game:

“I think it means a lot to us, to win a close game. Certainty going to be some things that we take away from it. That’s a four-minute drive for the offense that burned over four minutes. There’s a two-minute drive our defense has to defend. Hail Mary in the end zone that we probably practice that every Thursday. So there are certainly aspects of the game. We flipped a punt. What a punt by Austin McNamara there in the third quarter where we flipped the field. So there is certainty a lot of situational masterly stuff, Don, that I think we will gain confidence in because we are going to see ourselves have success. What it means is we are 2-2 in close games this year. We beat Houston Baptist and beat West Virginia and lost two of them that were close. That beats 0-4 last year.”

10. Up Next. The Sooners just throttled TCU yesterday, 33-14, and Texas Tech will host Oklahoma on Saturday night with kickoff at 7:00 p.m. and getting prime time on FOX.


Ed. Note: For the past few weeks I’ve been misspelling Henry Colombi’s name, putting an “u” where the second “o” is and I apologize for that. You know how your brain just misses things, maybe a number or skips over a letter? My brain did that and I don’t have an explanation other than I’m getting old.

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