* BOX SCORE
1. Feels Good. Wins are better than losses and yes, mistakes were made, but I’ll probably never care about how the win happens. Maybe that’s because it is so easy to write Ten Things when you win rather than lose. And honestly, this game was really sort of stacked against Texas Tech is so many ways. So many players out . . . again, a brand new kicker, a brand new punter (who is one in the same), more defensive linemen out, multiple turnovers to overcome, etc.
2. There Were Good Plays.
* The Colin Schooler hit on Brewer at the goal line was the play of the game for me. Absolutely rocked Brewer (in a totally legal way), shed the tight end who had no idea what he was doing, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a player just stopped like that.
* The Zech McPhearson interception and then the third down deflection that saved the game and probably a touchdown were absolutely huge.
* The game-winning field goal by Jonathan Garibay was huge, but the ability to hit the 3 others and actually have the kicking game as an actual scoring option were as significant as the game-winner.
* Alan Bowman KeSean Carter touchdown pass (I know it wasn’t ruled a touchdown, but I thought it was one) was a pretty play and that’s what Bowman can do over Henry Colombi, it’s those touch passes that Colombi struggles to complete.
3. Thompson Goes Down. It’s amazing what can happen when you get burned. We’ve all been there before. A girl/guy leaves you when you thought you were in love and you’re more guarded as a result. SaRodorick Thompson could have had a touchdown run, but would have left time on the clock. This harkens back to the Texas game where an inability to gather an onsides kick, leaving Texas too much time, ended up resulting in a loss. Hindsight is 20/20 and I’d love to criticize Thompson and the coaches for not scoring, but there’s that part of me that you wonder what would have happened if Baylor did get the ball back with a weird win and a field goal to win the game? We’re all wondering why Thompson scored as fast as he did and we’re lamenting another gut-punching loss.
4. Bowman vs. Colombi. In the first half, Texas Tech ran the ball 20 times and passed only 14. In the second half, it was 19 rushes and 24 pass attempts. This isn’t a knock against Colombi, but this offense is probably a lot more free flowing with Bowman under center with a caveat. That caveat is that Bowman has to be protected to an extent and given a bit of time to make the play. I don’t think that Bowman wins the West Virginia game and I don’t know that either quarterback wins the TCU game, but a game like this probably would have benefitted from Bowman from the start. Baylor wasn’t getting a ton of pressure on Colombi, but Colombi was averaging 5 yards an attempt, compared to 7.9 for Bowman. Bowman’s pick-six was one of those moments where you wondered if he would get another opportunity, but I’d even argue that with Colombi getting injured, it forced the hand of Yost to switch quarterbacks and I don’t think that Colombi completes the same types of passes. And truthfully, John Holcomb should have had a catch and a touchdown and maybe next year that’s what happens.
5. Defensive Improvement. This is one of those games where you take some pride in how the defense played, tons of huge plays, and Baylor averaged about 5 yards a play, a ton of rushing plays, but Baylor’s own ineptness really caused them some problems. We discussed the Schooler hit, but maybe as important as that hit was the next play where Baylor jumps and they have to move back 5 yards. So rather than going for it on 4th and 1, Baylor kicked a field goal on 4th and 6. If you want to know how much better the defense is, this is a quote from Zech McPhearson on that interception:
“That play specifically we ran in practice all week. We knew it was coming. When you get a post from the outside receiver and they moved #0 to the slot on the backside, Riko (Jeffers) communicated across field and I let the post go and fell back on the up routes. Both of them came from the other side of the field and made a play on the ball. We ran that play all week, so we were prepared.”
The entire time that McPhearson is relaying this answer, Schooler is just nodding, like “Yes, this is exactly what happened.” Communication. Film study. Finding the weaknesses and knowing exactly what’s going to happen is a pretty awesome feeling as a fan, I can’t imagine as a player.
I thought that Adam Beck had another really good game. Dadrion Taylor had a decent game. Riko Jeffers and Krishon Merriweather were really good. Tony Bradford, Jr. and Jaylon Hutchings were both standouts. Really a cumulative effort by all those players.
6. Running and Receiving. I don’t know how much you all appreciate how tough the running backs and receivers are. They play so hard and have been so consistent all year. KeSean Carter, Erik Ezukanma, T.J. Vasher, and Ja’Lynn Polk all shined when they had opportunities. Thompson and Brooks are so solid, Thompson averaging over 5 yards a carry and Brooks averaging 3 and a half with 2 touchdowns, a total of 117 on the ground, almost all of those tough-running yards with little to no daylight.
* Both teams were 6 of 16 on third downs. Baylor was 3 of 8 in the first half and 3 of 9 in the second, while Texas Tech was 3 of 9 in the first half and 3 of 7 in the second. You don’t see that very often.
* Baylor saved up all of their penalties for the second half, 6 for 42 yards, some of them were incredibly critical. Texas Tech had 6 for 50 for the record.
* On those third downs, Texas Tech averaged almost 8 yards a third down. Yost has to figure out a way make this so difficult on third downs. Baylor only needed 5.7 yards for each attempt. And on third and long, Texas Tech was 0-4, on third and short, Texas Tech was 4-5. So they are efficient when the opportunity is good. Make the opportunities better.
* Baylor’s offense and Brewer is pretty terrible. I acknowledge that Texas Tech’s offense is not much better, but Brewer just is not an effective quarterback any longer.
* Texas Tech was 5 of 5 from the red zone, 3 field goals and 2 touchdowns.
* Time of possession was in favor of Baylor by a decent amount, over 6 minutes and that is something that this team has to be better at, either that, or scoring more efficiently.
“Lots of respect to Baylor. Dave Aranda is a really good coach and a good friend. They’re a good program. I am unbelievably proud of our players. I just said to Chris Level, on the radio, that they just continue to get up off the mat and fight. We used that analogy a lot this week of getting set, getting reset, getting refocused and they did it. They fight and ‘spill their guts’ and put it all on the line. It’s hard to win in the Big XII. It’s an every-week thing and we had a lot of guys step up for the first time all year. You lose guys and they’re unavailable, you find out on Wednesday or Thursday. Man, what a crazy ride the year 2020 is. Again, I’m just so proud of our players.”
Q: After struggling this season in the 4th Quarter and being down double-digits going into it tonight, can you speak to your success this time around?
“Tremendous fourth quarter performance. I think it’s a reflection of the resiliency of these players. Where we have failed, we have learned. When we have failed we’ve continued to get back up and continued to practice hard. We’ve practiced those situations and I also the think the vibe on the sideline was good. Again, the resiliency of these players to fight. We got down two scores and there was no let down on the sideline. The vibes were good and the defense came up huge with those three stops to get the ball back in the hands of the offense.”
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your decision to play Alan Bowman this week and his performance in the 2nd half?
“We made the decision to play both quarterbacks. We didn’t have a set plan, just playing the hot hand. Honestly, neither one of them were really consistent in the first half. Alan had one heck of a fourth quarter. A fourth quarter comeback is what quarterbacks can and want to be known for. There was also a tremendous performance around him. I think we ran the ball very well. Tahj had some big runs. SaRodorick had a good run on that dump that Alan gave him. Guys around (Bowman) making plays makes a quarterback’s job a lot easier.”
Q: For you and the guys, how big was this comeback victory?
“As hard as it is to win in the Big XII, I think they’re all big. It’s the biggest win of the year. We needed it, our players needed it, our coaches needed it. The focus wasn’t so much on winning but more on executing and staying together and fighting. We wanted to finish. We’ve got a bye week to freshen up their bodies and minds. We’ve got two tough games left so the focus will be on finishing, but tonight was a big win for the Red Raiders.
9. The Elephant in the Room. With Jonathan Garibay knocking down field goals left and right, why did it take so long to make the change? If I’m looking for a failure from this game, this is probably it. The fact that the staff was maybe too loyal for too long for a kicker that was obviously having issues. And the longer that they stuck with him the longer that those issues were magnified and became a bigger deal.
10. Up Next. Some breathing room. Texas Tech is off next Saturday, but have Oklahoma State in Stillwater on November 28th.
My last thought is one where I think that this was a job-saving win for Wells. I don’t know if that’s a bit extreme, but it sure did feel that way. Another close loss to a one-win Baylor team sure would have felt like fates would be sealed.