This was hastily put together on four hours of sleep. Yes, I'm apologizing in advance.
THE RESULT | NOT ALL THAT BAD | For those of you who have visited DTN in the past, you know that I'm a glass half-full sort of guy. I can't help it. Texas Tech football typically brings so much joy to my life (this can be debated considering this past offseason, but you know what I'm talking about) that it makes my life better when I can try and look at things in a positive light. Sure, we have folks on DTN that tend to look at things from the other side of the fence and those opinions are valued as much as anyone else's opinions.
With that tremendous preface, I'm okay with where things are at right now. Could things have gone better? Sure. Of course. Absolutely. But I'm also not going to quit writing DTN because I think all is lost.
My initial thought was that as uneven as this team was, and I think uneven is an appropriate way to describe the game, had there been a few breaks which included an interception rather than a touchdown and making a field goal and this 8 point win becomes a 15 or 18 point victory. If that last SMU touchdown doesn't happen (and yes, if's and but's were candy and nuts . . . ) then does your outlook of the game change. Not to mention, things again look significantly different if Cornelius Douglas can make a catch on what should have been a first down, then I think we're again talking about a differnt outcome.
Storylines and MVP's after the jump.
WAS THE DEFENSE THAT BAD? | Maybe this is a situation where my expectations are just different than everyone elses, but last year, Kyle Padron averaged over 9 yards per attempt. For the game, SMU had 5.6 yards per attempt and the Texas Tech defense limited SMU to 218 yards for the entire game. Last year, Padron averaged 28 attempts per game, completed 67% of his passes, and had 4 interceptions last year. It would be incredibly convenient to not give Padron any credit whatsoever (i.e., that Padron is overrated [I'd love to know who is over-rating him] and that SMU offense really isn't that good). That's just not the case. SMU was going to move the ball at some point and consider me a bit impressed at how little SMU was able to do on offense. And one more note. Although I'm not a stat-guru, considering the numbers above, and the fact that SMU averaged only 4 yards an attempt rushing the ball, SMU was not very efficient offensively. There's no right answwer on who to credit. I choose to credit the Texas Tech defense, but alternatively some may think that the SMU offense just isn't that good.
I saw a few comments in the post-game thread about how vanilla the defense was and yearning for the days of safe for Ruffin McNeill. This is simply a case of you can't please them all. No defense is perfect unless you have the Alabama 2009 defense that limited every opponent. There are essentially two philosophies when it comes to defense: keep everything in front of you OR bring heat each and every play. It doesn't matter which defensive philosophy you choose, you're still going to give up yards. It's just how you're going to give up those yards.
And to those comments that the defense just wasn't that good, then I must have been hallucinating in the hot temperatures because the defense I saw was better than average and I thought was pretty good. There were a handful of really interesting things and there were a handful of different looks that the defense gave on just about each and every play. Sometimes there were four down linemen, sometimes there were two down linemen with three players standing up at the line of scrimmage. The biggest thing that I think this defense needs to correct, which is going to take some time, is the idea of gap-control. I thought that Bront Bird struggled with finding the right gap on more than a handful of occassions and I get the impression that part of his job is filling those gaps. There also seemed to be a hanful of occassions when it seemed as if guys like Sam Fehoko or Tyone Sonier were more concerned about getting up the field and rushing the passer rather than playing in their gaps. That's correctable.
One final note about the defense. Three interceptions. Seriously. One interception by a true freshman (Tre' Porter), another interception by a redshirt freshman (Jarvis Phillips) and another interception by a sophomore (D.J. Johnson). Did some of these guys get beat deep? Sure, but they're only going to get better. That's a ton of young talent in the defensive backfield.
WORKING OUT KINKS | The offense was far from perfect, but it wasn't awful either. As stated above, it seemed uneven. Like a lot of you, I think my frustration with Taylor Potts is that when he does what he is supposed to do, then he's fine. To start the game, I think part of the game plan was to nibble from sideline to sideline to see what SMU was going to do. Unfortunately, that nibbling lasted the first three series and we didn't see Potts throw the ball down the field at all. Potts also limited himself to his first and only read, but due to the fact that every pass was deliberate, I get the feeling that OC Brown didn't want Potts making any extra reads. Potts was at his best when he was allowed to look down the field, but was at it's worst when every pass was to the sideline or the first and only read for Potts. You've got to let him go if you want him to be successful.
The biggest part about the offense that worried me was the fact that the run-blocking that was a priority this fall was seemingly non-existant. The offensive line had a very tough time getting blocks on the SMU linebackers thad had a field day shooting the gaps and cutting down running backs before they could really get going. I wanted to see more drive-blocking from this unit and I thought that the offensive line was the best when Brown pulled Edwards to go out and block on the edge. The offensive line also gave up two sacks, both attributable to the right side of the line. In watching the game this morning, I thought that Deveric Gallington failed to pick up a corner blitz (he was helping out) and Chris Olson just got beat on the outside as the SMU linebacker took a wide angle and Olson just simply gave up on that play. Texas Tech needs better play from Olson at right tackle. The best part about the line was the tremendous play of LaAdrian Waddle. I thought that he was exceptional for the entire game. Very consistent.
And for those of you keeping track, Texas Tech ran 84 plays on Sunday. Texas Tech ran the ball 36.9% of the time and passed the ball 63.09% of the time. If you take out the two sacks then Texas Tech ran the ball 34.52% of the time. Last year, against FCS North Dakota, Texas Tech had 67 plays and ran the ball 28.35% of the time and only beat North Dakota by 25.
NOT SO SPECIAL TEAMS | There's no sugar-coating the fact that the special teams looked so bad. The kicking game was awful, but it was also awful under Leach the past few years. Matthew Williams was a bit of an elixir last year, but throughout the season, he only attempted 14 field goals. The long kickoff return was a huge problem. Of course, the special teams also produced a turnover that eventually led to 7 points. The fascinating thing, and I'm not sure that this came across on television, is that the special team units are almost entirely comprised by receivers, secondary players, linebackers and running backs. It's almost shocking to see so many smaller players out on the field. I suppose that the give and take is that they might be blocked a bit easier, but seeing Ben McRoy run down Fields was impressive. This area needs a ton of work, especially the kicking game. And if Williams and/or Corona can't get their kicks higher (Rule 1: You must at least kick the ball higher than the goal post) then maybe Tuberville is forced to take a look at Bradley Hicks or some of the freshmen kickers, Kramer Fyfe (Lake Travis, Austin, TX) or Jeremy Elder (Creekview, Carrollton, TX).
OFFENSIVE MVP | WR LYLE LEONG | Just an outstanding day, and the fact that this team was playing without two of their top five receivers and really didn't miss too much. I don't know that Leong is going to be able to do that against every opponent, but he's got a connection with Potts.
DEFENSIVE MVP | OLB BRIAN DUNCAN | Just a beautiful game from Duncan. He consistently put pressure on Padron and his two sacks that ended the game were huge.
SPECIAL TEAMS MVP | RB BEN MCROY | As mentioned above, running down the SMU returner was impressive to see live, but I'm afraid that my options for this MVP are fairly limited.