THE RESULT | VERY SATISFACTORY | I was very pleased, but not so escatic that there weren't things that we all could identify that need to improve. I sat there watching the game last night thinking that I could not fall into the same trap that I fell into last year. Trying to write-off the fact that Texas St. ran all over Texas Tech, but Texas Tech limited the Bobcats to just 7 points for the game. I was trying to be very conscious of anything defensively that would make me think that there hasn't been improvement.
So I watched and I paid attention and I waited because I really wanted to be critical of the defense. There were a couple of long passes completed, but that's not fair. That's hyper-critical because Texas Tech allowed less than 100 yards of total offense. If you need to feel any better, Northwestern St. averaged 1.7 yards per play. That's staggering and I also think that the only reason why Northwestern St. scored is because the offense gifted the Demons some excellent field position.
I didn't leap off my couch last night, but I did offer a nice fist-pump to the football gods because I learned last year to appreciate wins. Last year, for five straight losses, I wasn't even sure if I was even going to watch the game. I was sports-depressed last year. Last night felt very satisfactory. Not over-whelming joy or complete elation, but very satisfactory.
OFFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME | WR Bradley Marquez was it for me, with 7 catches for 92 yards. No touchdowns, but it seemed like he was terrific on third down. Marquez will be a tough cover for anyone in the Big 12.
DEFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME | DT Kerry Hyder was so active. I'm pretty sure I wrote the same thing last year at the time, but I'm hoping this year is different. Hyder had 3 tackles for loss, 1 of those was a sack and 3 pass break-ups. That's production.
SPECIAL TEAMS STAR OF THE GAME | Any time that your kicker is perfect, unless there is something extraordinary that happened, then he gets the star of the game. K Ryan Bustin hit field goals from 31, 36 and 37 yards.
STEPHENS RETURNS | I don't know that this was the biggest story, but it was a good story. It was good to see RB Eric Stephens return to action. I think he's terrific and I think he's a good representative for this program. I thought he danced around the line of scrimmage a bit too much, but maybe that was Stephens feeling out his knee and making sure everything was going to be okay. Still, Stephens returned from a torn ACL, MCL and dislocated kneecap in less than a year and he looks pretty good.
PISTOL THIRTY PERSONNEL | How about that for a bit of something interesting on offense. Thirty personnel is three running backs and no tight ends and last night Texas Tech displayed something I had not seen before, which was QB Seth Doege lined up in the Pistol, about 3 yards behind the center, a running back behind him and two running backs flanked to his side. It was a good look and it was effective. I don't think there was one time where Texas Tech lost any yards on this formation and even passed for a touchdown out of it, but had the touchdown called back for illegal formation.
There's so much more after the jump.
BIG PLAY DEFENSE | I've been pining away for a big play defense all offseason and it happened, at least for one game. Last year, there just weren't enough big plays. Not even close. Last night, I think we saw what good gap-control defense looked like and we saw a defense that knew that they had more in the tank to rattle NWS, but it wasn't necessary. Texas Tech didn't blitz all that much, but when they did, it was highly effective. There were 9 tackles for a loss last night and there were only 71 last year total, which averages out to less than 5 each game. Again, it's not the the best opponent, but I'll take baby-steps with this thing.
It was really amazing to watch how quickly S Cody Davis was able to key in on the run and see him get up to the line of scrimmage so fast to support the run, which ended up him leading the team in tackles. Davis was incredibly fast recognizing and that's his job. He's not going to always be terrific in coverage, but he'll diagnose a play faster than just about anyone in the conference.
I thought the linebacking corps was equally as solid. They are all much bigger than what Texas Tech was trotting out there last year and the difference is staggering. I initially thought that Will Smith was a defensive end that was out of position until I looked up his number (he's #7). Sam Eguavoen looks like a Big 12 player and until Terrance Bullitt hurt his shoulder, he looked like he was born to play linebacker. I don't know how he gets that shoulder situation resolved, but I hope he can.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF A DEFENSIVE LINE | I'm not at all about to say that the defensive line was transformed into something absolutely beautiful, say Burt Reynold's Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit, but like I mentioned above, there was good gap-control defense and the defensive ends made plays off the edge. It was also interesting to see the transformation of DT Delvon Simmons, who looks like he weighs 240 because he's so tall and skinny, but he's a 300 pound lineman and that's a good thing. It was also interesting to see how Kaufman utilized the defensive line and see DT Kerry Hyder get some snaps at defensive end. But it's good to see Hyder acknowledge that this is a journey and yesterday was a small step:
It's a small step in a long journey. We did a good job today, but we still have a long way to go on defense.
Leon Mackey, I don't think, had any snaps at defensive end. Like the rest of you, I'm hoping that DE Jackson Richards is adding strength to his already good-enough size and he looked good keeping in his lane and getting pressure. And DC Art Kaufman gets it. Kaufman knows it starts with the guys up front:
I told our defensive line, starting with the tackles. ‘It’s your job to take this game over up front.’ I really thought Kerry Hyder would play well in this game, because he had had a great camp. When you’re explosive up front, that makes for a lot of easy plays for the second-level guys when they’ve got to double team.
OFF, THEN ON, THEN OFF, OFFENSE | The offense sputtered as a result of the early interception from QB Seth Doege, then was terrific and efficient, and then sputtered by the time that Doege left. Doege knows he has to be better than that and he acknowledged that after the game:
I don't think I threw the ball particularly well. I pride myself on being one of the most accurate passers and that's something I really work on. So I don't think I was as accurate as I wanted to be today. In the first series, the ball kind of slipped through my hands. That was a downer for me. But as a quarterback, you can't dwell on mistakes and you have to kind of keep playing. They drew a lot of people, so we couldn't get the ball down the field as much as we wanted to. I thought I did a good job managing the game. Just need to keep improving and be ready to play in the next one.
This is Doege's team, there is no controversy. Brewer was better last night, but I can tell you right now that Tuberville and OC Neal Brown will live and die with Doege being the quarterback for this team. They absolutely want to get QB Michael Brewer some time, but this is Doege's team. I'll also add that OC Neal brown admitted that he was incredibly conservative, if this gives you any solace:
We’ve got to be able to run the ball a little bit more consistent. I thought we showed flashes. We were really, really conservative tonight. I called the game a lot with those two guards in mind. I didn’t want to put a whole lot of pressure on them game one. We’ll open up the playbook a little bit more.
We'll see next week and I'm predicting that OC Brown will be true to his word and open things up next week.
- TE Jace Amaro didn't line up all that often at the actual tight end spot, but he is a 6-5/250 tight end playing inside receiver. There is not a player in the Big 12 that can cover Amaro if he plays to his potential.
- When BON's Peter Bean interviewed me last week, I wrote that WR Bradley Marquez was a mature athlete and this is the truth. I don't know if Bradley's future is in baseball, but he gets football and he knows how to play the game. He was also terrific in special teams.
- DC Kaufman really mixed up coverages for the cornerbacks, from press coverage, to 15 yards off the receiver. I'd also add that you didn't hear the names of Cornelius Douglas or Eugene Neboh all game and it's because NWS's quarterback couldn't find his wide receivers open. The only receivers that were open yesterday were being covered by Davis and D.J. Johnson.
- No one loves the delayed hand-off more than OC Neal Brown and Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
- The running backs averaged 4.2 yards a carry. That's fine with me, especially when Stephens was testing things out. I thought Kenny Williams looked terrific.
- Six players sat, some for disciplinary reasons and other for injuries: WR Javon Bell, IR Tyson Williams, WR Darrin Moore, LB Chris Payne, CB Jarvis Phillips and CB Derrick Mays. Tuberville said after the game that Williams and Payne were the injured players. All of these players were in Texas Tech's two-deep.
- From what I can tell, the following players had their redshirts removed: OT Rashad Fortenberry, OG Jared Kaster and LB Micah Awe.
- There were some mistakes on the offensive line, but let's see if those things progress next week. RT Terry McDaniel missed an assignment, which led to Brewer's sack, although it looked like he thought that there was going to be a running back chip on the outside. That didn't happen. I thought that LG Alfredo Morales and RG LeRaven Clark were pretty good for redshirt freshmen, but I need to go back and watch the tape.