Utah State throttled North Texas on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies had 556 total yards of offense, over 6.7 yards per lay, while North Texas was limited to just 313 total yards and just 4.2 yards per play. The Aggies averaged nearly 5 yards a carry and 8.3 yards per attempt. I know that North Texas’ starting quarterback, Mason Fine, was injured early and the North Texas offense never recovered, but this is about optics and results. Actual on the field results. Texas Tech fans are all too aware of injuries to quarterbacks and I’m not about to create excuses for some other team. It is what it is.
But as stated above, this is about optics for me and the optics of the situation is one where Utah State dominated this game, on offense and defense. And truthfully, the fact that Texas Tech has David Yost signed up for 3 years should make you sleep well at night.
The full North Texas defense was there. No injuries to be concerned about (other than normal in-game stuff). USU quarterback Jordan Love wasn’t even as good as he’s been all year, but he still ended up throwing for 359 yards, completing 49% of his passes, 8.3 yards per attempt, and Love also had for 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. It seemed like Love was making big-play after big-play and just wasn’t deterred from going down the field in a big way. And the receivers were sometimes just wide open.
And Yost can point to the fact that the inside receivers and outside receivers had big games. Jalen Greene a big 6-3/215 receiver went 6 for 151 and a touchdown, including a 67 yard touchdown, while Aaren Vaughns a Jakeem Grant-like receiver at 5-7/187 went 2 for 109 with 2 touchdowns.
The running backs both nearly ran for 100 each, Gerold Bright (5-9/195) and Darwin Thompson (5-8/200) were electric, Bright rank 16 times for 103 yards and had 2 touchdowns, while catching 3 passes for 20 yards. Thompson had 21 carries for 93 yards and 1 catch for 15 yards. That’s 123 total yards for Bright and 108 total yards for Thompson and 231 total yards from your running backs. That’s what you might call success at the running back position.
Which means that the offensive line was stellar at creating opportunities. The running backs only lost 13 total yards and there was only 1 sack in those 43 attempts yesterday. Love was pretty much clean all game long and I thought the Utah State running backs were running for big chunks for most of the day.
Keith Patterson runs a very aggressive defense and it showed yesterday. Patterson didn’t call the defense, at least I don’t think he did, but they probably didn’t waver too much from what they normally do. Once Fine went down, they put the hammer down and I thought that whoever was at quarterback for North Texas was under pressure and simply didn’t have enough time to do much of anything.
Officially, Utah State only had 2 sacks and 3 quarterback hurries, but it felt like a lot more. David Woodward, their do-everything linebacker laid a hit on a North Teas receiver that led to a flukey interception that he grabbed and returned the ball to the USU 6 yard line. Woodward would finish with 10 tackles and this is going to be your Jordyn Brooks and Brayden Stringer situation while I’m willing to bet that Riko Jeffers gets outside assignment.
Utah State had 6 tackles for a loss, including 3 by Tipa Taleai, a transfer from TCU, who finished with 2 sacks as well and a forced fumble. There were also 4 interceptions on the day, but it’s very difficult to give too much credit to Utah State when they are playing against 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks, but this is about how awesome Utah State played so you’ll have to excuse me. And Seth Littrell made terrible decisions to continue to try to play Fine after it was clear that Fine was impaired because of a bad hamstring. When he got back into the game early in the 2nd quarter, a pass went over his head and UNT was looking at 2nd and 34 at their own goal line.
The optics, the idea of what happened is maybe the most important thing. No commit or current player is probably going to check to see how a particular player performed, they can simply look at the final score and see a complete tail whipping and there you go. And if anyone does want to dive deeper, then there’s some really encouraging results. Besides, the opposite of what actually happened would have been disastrous. If North Texas had won, or if the game was close, then yeah, it would be an absolute lose-lose for Texas Tech fans. Instead, the Aggies took care of business and absolutely dominated an opposing defense and then just dominated an opposing team overall.
The outcome on Saturday doesn’t necessarily mean that Texas Tech chose correctly, a one-game sample size doesn’t mean much of anything, but a win certainly prevents the narrative that Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt chose incorrectly based on the exact same sample size.