THE RESULT | LIFE MOVES PRETTY FAST. IF YOU DON'T STOP AND LOOK AROUND ONCE IN A WHILE, YOU COULD MISS IT. | --Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Sometimes I don't get it. I know I look at this team glass-half-full, it's part of who I am, and I also know that there's a lot of people that look at this team glass-half-empty. It's part of who we are and it's part of the different personalities that make the world unique. I can appreciate that the different personalities keep everyone in check, or at least keeps me in check.
But sometimes, I feel fans of Texas Tech football rooting for failure rather than any sort of success. That makes me a bit sad. I understand that's transpired over the past 11 months and I understand that there's still a ton of resentment about what happened. I've been writing about inconsistencies and problems and issues with this team for the past 11 weeks (including an bye week) and they're well known. Quarterback consistency. A running game that doesn't show up in the third game of the season. Cornerbacks that can't cover receivers. An inconsistent defensive line. Linebackers that can't chase down backs out of the backfield or are being asked to cover slot receivers. Receivers dropping the ball. Running backs having untimely fumbles. Overall awful special teams play (sans K Matt Williams - you've been terrific). I could go on for a few more days.
But it's really tough for me to be critical after each and every game. It's tough for me, or really anyone else, to give meaningful commentary about 3rd and 4th string players that saw time in the 3rd and 4th quarters of yesterday's win. Sure, yesterday's game wasn't perfect. There are plenty of things to critique. The defense didn't keep Weber St. out of the endzone. Giving up 459 yards of offense. The receivers still giving up long receptions. The offense didn't score on every drive for a FCS opponent. Those 3rd and 4th string players didn't perform at high level. I could go on, but I'm not.
After the game, WR Austin Zouzalik was asked about what people would say about beating up a FCS opponent and I think he summarized my thoughts overall:
Q. What would you say to fans who would point out the wins with the level of competition that you were playing?
AUSTIN ZOUZALIK: What should we tell them? I mean, we got the win and that's what we wanted to do. That's really all there is to say.
For one day, I'm going to focus on the positive. You'll have to indulge me. And I'm not about to tell you what to do or to ask you to join me, I know that those sort of attempts usually fall flat on their face. Nevertheless, I'm going to embrace the positivity. These are things that make me happy and things that get me excited for next year's team.
Storylines and MVP's after the jump.
ASIDE: This is a bit of an aside, but I tracked the game in a bit of a different way yesterday and I hope to have the results later this week. Essentially, what I tracked is what did the team did out of every formation. Not surprisingly, this team runs about 90% out of 10 personnel (which is one running back and zero tight ends). There were a handful of players that this team runs out of 11 personnel (one running back and one tight end) and 20 personnel (two running backs and zero tight ends). I'll be interested to see how this team adjusts next year and I think it's one of the things I'll do to track the games.
HAPPY FOR BIRD | During the radio pre-game Bront Bird's dad was interviewed and he talked about how proud he was that his son had persevered during his college career and will graduate from Texas Tech with a degree. For those of you who don't know, Bird lost his mother while at Texas Tech, I think during the football season. Bird, as a player has his faults, but I am infinitely happy for Bird that he's kept a good outlook on life and he's graduating from Texas Tech. Losing a parent isn't easy. Losing a parent while you're still in college is something I don't wish on anyone.
MCROY IS FAST | We've all known that RB Ben McRoy is fast. I really had no idea how fast he actually was. He's not a between-the-tackle sort of runner, but he can get out the edge and to think that he can get out to the edge quicker than fellow RB Harrison Jeffers is something that I wasn't sure I'd ever type. McRoy finished with 76 yards on just 8 carries for a 9.5 average. One other thing that I noted about McRoy was that on one of Doege's pass, McRoy picked up a blitzer and knew exactly where to go and he didn't shy away from contact. The fact that McRoy knows what's going to get him playing time, not necessarily running really fast with the football, but protecting his quarterback, will get McRoy playing time.
HUBERT AND BUSH | If you want a middle linebacker that can run sideline to sideline and hit some folks, then ILB Cqulin Hubert is your guy. I thought Hubert was really good (and I should preface everything positive that I'm going to write by acknowledging that yes, all of these performances came against a FCS opponent) at getting to the ball and was in on 9 tackles and 1.0 TFL. I could see him leap-frogging ILB Tyrone Sonier for playing time next year because he's faster. Maybe Sonier gets moved to Duncan's outside linebacker spot or plays on running teams. But if Sonier is going to do that, he's going to have to beat out OLB Dartwan Bush, who looked fantastic. From his outside linebacker spot, he had 5 tackles and 2.0 TFL and I liked how active he is. From my very untrained eye, I think that Bush is faster than Duncan and just as physical. For both Hubert and Bush, they're playing time this year will pay dividends next year. I think it's safe to say that you can pencil them both in as starters.
MOORE AND WARD | One of my over-used phrases is that this teams needs more "play-makers". There are solid receivers on this team, but I think a big part of what this team has lacked, is a big-time play-maker on this team. A team that truly stretches the defense and is physical enough to go inside. WR Eric Ward should take WR Lyle Leong's spot next year and WR Darrin Moore should take WR Detron Lewis' spot next year. There's no doubt that Ward would have made me feel a lot better by pulling in that slant route for a touchdown, but if he can give better concentration, then Ward could be one of those players that opposing defenses have to account for when lining up. And Moore is a guy that I think shows some pretty darned good athleticism for a guy his size and could be a match-up problem for opposing defenses as he sits at over 6-4/210.
And this doesn't even consider other guys that have made an impact over the past two years like Zouzalik or Alexander Torres, or the play of Cornelius Douglas, etc.
BATCH, POTTS AND SHEFFIELD ALL SHINE | I can't remember who made the comment during the OGDT, but someone asked who got the bigger applause on senior day, QB Taylor Potts of QB Steven Sheffield. I wasn't at the game, but it's my hope that both Potts and Sheffield were giving a big round of applause. If we have to judge a player's worth to a program based on whether or not a player takes a team to a champion then that seems like an unfair bar. What I hope that we can all appreciate is that these players have given 4 and 5 years to the team that you love. Yes, they're given an education, but I don't think that we should ever root for one player to be given more applause more than another. They both gave to Texas Tech and I appreciate that.
And although I'm sure that there were people who didn't even want to see Sheffield play because it was patronizing, you don't know that. For all we know, Sheffield wanted to play because this may be the last time that either Sheffield or Potts will play in the college careers. Anything could happen in the next week, either player could get injured and their career could be over. I've never played athletics on a level greater than high school, but what I can say is that despite being a terrible athlete, I still wanted to play the game. To think that a player doesn't deserve time for whatever reason (i.e., let's see the new, younger, prettier quarterback) seems like an awful reason to give a player the opportunity to play a game on a day dedicated to the senior.
It's no secret that RB Baron Batch is one of, if not my all-time favorite, player for Texas Tech because of the way he's played this game and the way I think he tries to lead his life, he finished the day with 11 carries and 71 yards and a touchdown. You, sir, are one of my favorites.
SO MANY FRESHMEN | I've already talked about Hubert and Bush, but here's the list of freshmen that played yesterday: DT Pearlie Graves, CB Eugene Neboh, CB Tre' Porter, CB D.J. Johnson, QB Jacob Karam, WR Eric Ward, CB Jarvis Phillips, OLB Terrance Bullitt, WR Aaron Fisher, RB Ben McRoy, OLB Dion Chidozie, OLB Daniel Cobb, DE Christopher Knighton, and DE Kerry Hyder. I'm not going to guarantee that any of these guys will be huge players for this team and I can't predict how their careers are going to pan out in the long run, but what I do know is that young players usually get better with more playing time. Either that, or they'll be weeded out by players being redshirted or true freshman next year. The silver lining to having a defense decimated by injuries and suspensions is that players who should have never seen the field are getting valuable playing time. Coaches can't replicate a game experience, I hope like heck that over the next 2 or 3 years it pays dividends.
THE CONTROVERSY HAS JUST BEGUN | QB Seth Doege and QB Jacob Karam both saw action yesterday. Karam's action was obviously fairly limited, but I think what we can expect is the discussion will continue all spring. Doege looked like a completely different quarterback than last year (yes, it was against an FCS opponent, I know) and he played with a bit of swagger. Still, you can't help but like 3 of 4 passing for 58 yards. Doege looked down the field and found open receivers. Of course, both Potts and Sheffield found open receivers down the field as well, but it was good to see Doege shine. I think I'll always remember the spring game in 2009 and Doege had an awful performance. He looked awful, and he was on the field after the game, signing autographs for the kids and he was just dejected. Doege is one of the great unknowns for this team because he doesn't have really any sort of high school career to speak of and his college career thus far has just been as a back-up. We'll know soon enough and I don't think that this competition is even close to being done. And I know that people continue to ask whether or not Karam will transfer to another school. If I had to bet, I think I'd bet that he doesn't. Maybe I'm reading Karam all wrong, but he seems like a really intelligent kid that gets that sometimes there may be better and more experienced players in front of you. It happens at college campuses everywhere. I don't think that Karam is scared of competition and I think he's driven by competition. As are all of these players. A player is just one play away from seeing the field, no matter the position. I think Karam loves Texas Tech and he loves his team. I'd be surprised and shocked if he transferred. What I think he will do, as will all of these players is compete for spots in the spring. There are a lot of positions up for grabs and now it's just a question as to how bad each player wants it.
OFFENSIVE MVP | RB Ben McRoy | See above. Maybe the fastest player to have ever put on a Texas Tech jersey. Someone with a better sense of Texas Tech football history help me out and give us someone else to debate.
DEFENSIVE MVP | ILB Cqulin Hubert | Just loved his range and ability to go sideline to sideline.
SPECIAL TEAMS MVP | K Donnie Carona | I never thought I'd see Carona kick a long field goal ever again, especially a 52 yard field goal. I'm happy that Carona had success yesterday, he hasn't had much as a college kicker and success, even on a small level, is a good thing.