1. Game Links:
2. Tail Whipped. I really didn’t foresee what happened last night. I knew that the NC State defense was really though and I knew that this would be a tough game, but I didn’t think there would be three interceptions and one returned for a touchdown and just being unable to convert on third and fourth downs. Special teams miscues again, which I thought would be solved. I thought the defense played really well, only giving up 13 points, 6 of which were field goals from incredibly short fields. In the post-game press conference, Joey McGuire doesn’t pass blame, he talked about the coaches needing to correct things, to put the players in better situations. I’m saying that because there is always a contingent of fans that’s keen on who’s being blamed for a win or a loss and wanting to make sure a coach says the “right” thing. McGuire wasn’t asked about the last third of the 4th quarter where there didn’t appear to be any urgency in calling timeouts to conserve time to maybe score so I don’t have any explanations there.
3. Think a good thought for Bryce Ramirez. I don’t have anything other than if this is your sort of thing to think a good thought for Bryce Ramirez. Ramirez appeared to have fractured his leg. When the replay was shown, I wasn’t looking at his leg, I was looking at his head thinking that he had been knocked out. I’m glad I didn’t see the graphic nature of his leg.
4. Defense Shined. It’s going to be really difficult to criticize the defense. Their biggest miscues were two trick plays that went for touchdowns and if it weren’t for those, then this game looks a slightly more different. Texas Tech only allowed 111 yards on the ground on 37 carries and 159 passing yards so NC State was certainly contained.
5. Discussing NC State’s Defense. The NC State defense is conceptually really interesting, rushing 3 and then having 3 linebackers that can close incredibly quickly. That sort of thing takes time, the linebackers need to play to gain experience and as a coach you need to recruit the right type of players to be able to pull that off. That’s exactly what happened and part of the maturation process for a quarterback is to go through a meat-grinder of a defense. Graham Harrell did it against TCU. Patrick Mahomes did it against West Virginia and Iowa State. It’s the ability to learn from those defenses. I thought that Donovan Smith’s interceptions were the result of not being on the same page as the receiver and that would seemingly be something that’s corrected pretty easily. Donovan Smith did not have a good game in my estimation and I’m guessing he knows that. I don’t know that Texas Tech will play a defense like that again this year, but next week against Texas will prove to be incredibly tough and I’m guessing that Gary Patterson stayed up last night pulling out game plans that he had for Mahomes with the intent of using them this week. Smith has to be ready to get rid of the ball quickly, take what the defense gives you, and do not force the ball.
6. Third and Way Too Long. We talked last week about how the third and long situation wasn’t tenable and that happened again. The average, yes average, distance to go on third down was 10.1 yards, which is darn near impossible to get. Texas Tech was 0-6 on third downs of 9+ yards and despite what we think, it’s really difficult to gain a first down on just one down. Texas Tech converted only 2 of 12 third downs, good for 16.7% and on average, only gained 4.8 yards, which means that you’re still 5 yards short of a first. This is probably one of my biggest areas of concern, which is the shortening the third down distance so it’s more tenable. I don’t care who is calling plays, to go that far just isn’t going to get it done. And I felt like part of the problem was that there were a lot of penalties that happened on third down which magnified the problem.
7. Special Teams Issues, Part II. This is also the second week in a row where I’m writing about special teams issues. I’m not sure where to start, but let’s start with kick returns. Texas Tech ran out 5 kickoffs, but only averaged 20 yards a return, which didn’t get Texas Tech to the 25 numerous times. Austin McNamara may still be feeling the effects of last week’s hit to his lower body, but he only averaged 41.2 yards per punt, a good 5 yards or so below his average. Drew Hocutt bobbles a punt return that he ends up fumbling and NC State then recovers.
8. Idle Thoughts. Receivers have to catch the ball. That just has to be their thing and I think the game turns out differently if receivers simply catch the ball, which isn’t to say that every pass was on-point, because it was not, but that sort of needs to be a thing . . . McGuire mentioned during the press conference that offensive success is predicated on quarterback recognition, offensive line play, and receivers catching the ball. In addition to the 4 sacks that NC State had, they also had 10, yes 10 quarterback hurries. The sacks are one thing, but to be under pressure for nearly a fourth of your passing downs is not going to work. The offensive line has to be more cohesive . . . I thought the offensive player of the game was SaRodorick Thompson who finished with 39 yards on 9 attempts and when he did run, he was good, but Texas Tech really was bottled up so many times . . . the announcers and myself are enamored with the idea of a 6’9″ tight end in the red zone, but we’re really not seeing that sort of target for Mason Tharp in the red zone . . . before the game, Don Williams reported that guard Weston Wright was out and Jacoby Jackson got the start while tight end Baylor Cupp was out after getting banged up last week . . . NC State ran 8 fewer plays, 69 (nice) to 61, but had an 8 minute advantage in terms of time of possession . . . Texas Tech was 0-2 for third downs with less than 2 yards to go, but NC State was 0-4 . . . Texas Tech only ran 19% of their plays inside NC State’s side of the field . . . I do not have an explanation as to why Reggie Pearson just let that running back into the end zone. I think that was the play that Dimitri Moore was injured, maybe a muscle or hamstring situation, but that was really weird . . . There were some people after the game tagging players on social media and I don’t know if this is just me, but I don’t follow players on social media. I don’t tweet at them when things are bad or things are good. I just don’t communicate with them in any sort of way. Of course, you’ll also note that for the last couple of years the STP Twitter account really only tweets out the posts that are published on the website automatically and maybe if I find something interesting, but almost never in-game. I’ve sort of figured out that there’s no reason to tweet during the game, I don’t need that interaction and most of the time I’m not adding anything to the experience, either good or bad. Tweeting anything at 18 to 22 year old players is weird, especially for a 48-year old man who sits at a keyboard. It’s the same reason I do positional grades and not individual grades, to be critical without naming names is important to me. If you are tweeting at players, you should not do that . . .
9. Coach Comments.
On going for it on 4th down: “It goes back to how many possessions we’re going to have at that point. We’re down by two possessions, and if you don’t go for it there, they’ve got a good chance to where you’re only going to get the ball back once and then you’re hoping for an onside kick after that. And so we went with it. It shouldn’t have gotten to that. The play before, we should have got the first down and we shouldn’t have been in that situation. Kittley going into the play call for third and fourth down knew that he had two plays to get first down.”
10. Tortilla Tossin’ Players of the Game.
Tyree Wilson is so impressive, 11 tackles on the night with 2 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss and a quarterback hurry. I’ve never decided if 1 tortilla is better or if 3 are, so these aren’t in any sort of order.
Malik Dunlap returned to NC State and he was really terrific and he’s listening to coaching. He’s letting his eyes play the ball and that resulted in 4 pass break-ups that were absolutely critical. Also, no penalties for pass interference, I don’t think, so he’s playing pretty cleanly.
Tyrique Matthews maybe came in for Dimitri Moore, who ended up getting injured. Matthews finished with just 5 tackles, but he certainly flashed from my end of things and although the stats say he only had 1 tackle for loss, I thought he had a couple. He played like someone who wants to get on the field and doesn’t want to come off