1. Game Links:
2. Roller Coaster. Like everyone else, there’s 0:21 left in the game, surely this is over. Texas drives down the field to kick a field goal to send the game to overtime and I was sure Texas Tech was sunk. But magical things happened, Texas would lose the toss, receive the ball first and Bijan Robinson, a guy who fumbles maybe once every 100 carries actually fumbled thanks to a helluva hit by Krishon Merriweather, and Texas’ overtime possession was over. The rest of the way, it was just about not messing things up, run the ball, kick the field goal. Donovan Smith almost messed that up by scoring a touchdown, but by the time the clock struck 0:00, Trey Wolff kicked the 20-yard game winner. McGuire said after the game that before the player he told the captains that big-time players make big-time plays. The captains were Tyree Wilson, Krishon Merriweather, SaRodorick Thompson, and Jaylon Hutchings.
3. Smith’s Solid Day. Donovan Smith’s day was weird to me, but not bad. Smith completed 68% of his passes, but only for about 6 yards an attempt, which is really low. That means that Smith and Zach Kittley did exactly what I thought they might do, which is let Smith take easy passes, make quicker decisions, get rid of the ball. Statistically, Texas had zero quarterback hurries and just 2 sacks, but that’s not to say that Smith wasn’t under pressure, because he was. And Smith spread the ball out again, there were 9 players that caught at least 2 passes and 11 players that caught a pass.
4. You Don’t Have to Guess About Philosophy. At no point of Joey McGuire’s tenure will you have to guess about what Joey McGuire’s coaching philosophy is because he will be aggressive and he will push the envelope. Sometimes we can’t really guess what a coach’s philosophy actually is or when they choose to be aggressive and when they do not, but McGuire’s aggressiveness on 4th downs, and McGuire continuing his desire to return kickoffs because you know what he wants to do. McGuire said about the 4th and 3 at the 50 yard line with 2 minutes left, he said that he said that Texas Tech has good calls and every throw Smith can make and said that they simply felt good about it.
Regardless, McGuire makes no room for guessing about what you think he might do and there’s something encouraging about that. We’ve always liked aggressive coaching, and that’s not to say that this won’t bite him in the rear, but that sort of comes with the territory and you can live with that. It also is about belief in your players and that’s a big part of what McGuire believes.
5. Defense Shows Up Again. Another day that the defense showed up because before the game, Bijan Robinson was an absolute terror, and by the end of the game, the defense had limited him to just 16 carries for 101 yards and 6 yards a carry. That’s really good, especially considering there was a 40-yard run mixed in there. For the day, the defense only allowed 149 yards rushing and Texas only ran 60 plays total. The announcers made a big deal out of that
6. Improve Third Downs (and Fourth Downs). Part of the improvement was that Texas only had 9 third downs and converted 3 of them, while Texas Tech had 20 of those opportunities converting 7 of them. The percentages are the same and even though Texas Tech didn’t convert a higher percentage, McGuire was clear about where the game would game from the start, so the team sort of knew that they’d have 4 downs to keep drives alive. Converting 6 of 8 forth downs is absolutely huge, none bigger than the 4th and 3 on the 50 mentioned above. The other interesting thing is that Texas Tech definitely shortened the third downs this game, averaging 6.4 yards to go on 3rd down and just like we’ve always known, the shorter the distances, the more success that Texas Tech has. Texas Tech was 1 of 5 of 9+ yards to go while 4 of 8 on 1-4 yards to go. Also interesting, Texas Tech was 6 of 10 passing on third downs with 77 yards.
Alternatively, the defense held Texas to 0-3 on third downs with 1-4 yards to go and for the defense to stop the Longhorns on such short distances are huge wins.
7. Stat Things. Let’s dig deep . . . Donovan Smith had 56 pass attempts, but 17 of 21 on short passes, less than 5 yards, and 15 of 24 on intermediate throws . . . Texas only ran 37% of their plays on Texas Tech’s side of the field and Texas Tech ran 54% of their plays on Texas’ side of the field . . . on rushes with 2 yards or less to gain a first down, Texas was 1 of 4, while Texas Tech was 5 of 7 . . . Texas Tech was 5 of 6 in the red zone this game while Texas was 2 for 2, but the key is that they only had 2 attempts . . . this was a pretty clean game, Texas was penalized 5 for 42 and Texas Tech was 5 of 31 . . .
8. Idle Thoughts. This is neither here nor there, but I saw Steve Sarkisian’s sunglasses against Alabama and although I’m not exactly a fashion maven, they look dumb. I’m also concerned about Sark not wearing a hat to cover his head from the sun . . . Since we’re talking about fashion, I suppose we’ve also noticed that McGuire has game-day attire, meaning he’s got the sleeveless hoodie with the red long-sleeve undershirt. We sort of made fun of Matt Rhule, but he had similar attire in that he had a sleeveless grey smock almost that became his signature look and then a green shirt underneath with a hoodie . . . the offensive line is maybe not as good as they could be but they are definitely, in my opinion, better than they were last year by leaps and bounds. I think there are still holes and I think that I sometimes want them to simply be better at holding blocks, but this was a pretty massive improvement over last week and last year . . . I’m really not talking enough about the defense here, but they really were fantastic. Texas has a very explosive offense and they very much limited that for sure. I don’t think that we’ve seen a defense that is as hard-hitting and sure-tackling as this defense. Tyree Wilson continues to be a force of nature, 6 tackles with half a sack. Marquis Waters had 3 tackles, but 1.5 tackles for a loss. Reggie Pearson isn’t going to get one of the players of the games, but he was awfully close. Pearson’s fumble recovery helped win the game and his interception was one where he just tracked the ball and made an easy catch . . . the running backs seemed like they had a rough day, the yards were tough to come by, but Kittley didn’t stop giving them the ball, which I think was part of shortening those third downs, SaRodorick Thompson had 70 yards on 17 carries and Tahj Brooks has 36 on 12. That’s not a great average, but they showed up . . . Really nice to see Baylor Cupp make an impact, 4 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown is something you love to see. His one-handed catch to get down near the goal line was really good . . . Trey Cleveland’s catch for 35 yards was fantastic . . . the fake to Thompson and leak to Brooks for his touchdown was a really fun play . . . go watch the game-winning field goal again and the amount of trash-talking that Caleb Rogers is giving to some UT player, maybe #98 is obscene and then gives him the double-Longhorns down . . .
9. Coach Comments.
This probably makes you feel things.
“I told you they were gonna break.
The country’s gonna find out. EVERYTHING RUNS THROUGH LUBBOCK.” pic.twitter.com/5k1atLU4l2
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 25, 2022
Head Coach Joey McGuire opening statement:
“Really proud of our guys I know there was a moment there it was 31-17 and at any point they could have given up and they didn’t. We asked them to come out at half and just keep fighting because good things are going to happen. What’s really fun is these guys believe, and whenever you have results like this, it just fires that belief even more. They’re practicing even more, they’re practicing extremely hard, they’re practicing their self into really good football players, and they’re practicing themselves into a good football team. I was asked at the end “what does this mean about beating Texas?”. What’s it means to us is that were 1-0 in the Big 12. That’s what it means to us. I know I’m fired up to beat Texas, don’t get me wrong, but I’m more fired up to be 1-0.”
McGuire on the culture:
“I’ve said it, the one thing I think we’re going to keep trying to prove, and they’re going to keep proving me right, we’re going to fight. When you come watch us, we’re going to play four quarters and if we have to play in overtime, we will play in overtime. I will tell you, the fans today were absolutely amazing. It wasn’t (DeRuyter) today; it was Zach Kittley going “oh my God this place is so loud right now.” Our kids feed off of that. I know the more and more we get these sellouts, and we get the Red Raiders behind us, we get 60,000 plus every single week at The Jones makes a big difference for us. We got four more here and it should be four sellouts. I’m asking everybody to help us out. We’ve got some big games at home, and we need everyone here.”
10. Tortilla Tossin’ Players of the Game.
Krishon Merriweather led the team with 8 tackles, but he probably also had the play of the game, forcing Bijan Robinson to fumble is a rare occurrence and he had a no-doubter in terms of forcing that play. It just doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Myles Price caught 13 passes for 98 yards and it was clear from the get-go that Smith was going to lean on his most reliable receiver. Not a ton of huge plays, but catch the ball and move the chains. That’s huge. As an aside, Price had 17 targets, so he had a catch rate of 76% and he also had 56 yards after catch.
Trey Wolff pretty much started the game kicking the ball out of bounds:
“I think one of the biggest things that have me helped so much is when Coach McGuire preaches the “what’s next mentality.” And we’re all ‘The Brand’, so if something good happens, what’s next? Erase that. If something bad happens, erase it; what’s next? When I started this game, I had a kickoff out of bounds, and I just walked on the sidelines and acted like nothing happened because I knew there was a possibility that my team would need me. So, the best opportunity for me to be in that situation is to have a role ahead. Not even, get to emotion from it.”
Wolff did redeem himself, making all 3 field goals, including the game-winner from 20.