THE RESULT | ALWAYS CELEBRATE A WIN | Maybe I'm too optimistic and too nice and have this internal need find happiness in the thing that makes me happy, but it's always been my philosophy to be happy with a win. Being at the game I was nervous as all heck and as my friends were high-fiving, I'm nursing my second half pull of Red Man and hoping for a win. As QB Seth Doege found WR Eric Ward in the endzone, I had a huge sigh of relief, and I knew that I was going to face when I was able to get back to a computer and log onto DTN. There would be people that would be upset and there would people that would say that celebrating a win against a WAC team isn't enough. Life and football aren't always perfect, but when something good happens, I'm going to celebrate. Will I celebrate like winning the national championship? No, but I've been a part of too many bad losses to take any win for granted. And the complaints about the players celebrating a win? For real? You want to criticize kids' emotions, who struggled all game long to stay and I questioned as to whether or not they should even be in the game, to come back and win in the last minute and they're not supposed to get excited? If we have gotten so jaded to think that kids can't or shouldn't show their true emotions, then maybe I need to be writing somewhere else. I'm happy for them and I'm also sure that they know, or that they knew by Sunday night when they watched the film, that there were so many mistakes, both on offense and defense, that they need to improve, but being disappointed with your team because they're happy seems strange. Life is too short, at least my life is too short, to think that I'm not supposed to be happy. This doesn't mean that I don't think that things need to be fixed, but just as I've had a long-standing thought that you can't tell me when to move-on, you also can't tell me when I can or cannot be happy about a win.
THE DEFENSE IS STRUGGLING | I'm not going to alibi for the defense. The defense is and was atrocious and it was without WS Cody Davis and CB Tre' Porter, not to mention DE Leon Mackey. I know, you all are hearing of injuries and young players and all of that other stuff. The hope is that at some point, those injured players and young players will heal and grow up. I think we're still waiting on that. Maybe I'm too patient with how the defense is coming along. Here's what I saw at the game. I think that DC Chad Glasgow's thought prior to the game was that he was going to make the Nevada quarterbacks beat Texas Tech. Lantrip was only completing 56% of his passes coming into the game and I think that Glasgow thought that he knew that his rush defense was so poor that he was going to need all the help he could get (which it still wasn't enough) and bring the safeties as close to the line of scrimmage as possible. This meant that the Nevada receivers were working on-on-one all game long and the 7 to 10 yard out route was open all game long as the cornerbacks were playing 8 to 10 yards off of the receiver. I would guess that with each completion that Lantrip or Fajardo made, Glasgow was asking, when they were going to become their usual selves and it never happened.
So now there's a defense that is playing on their heels, we know that it's not good against the run, has linebackers that are the size of most decent sized safeties, are true freshman and one has only played football for two years. Both LB's Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen aren't ready for prime time just year, but neither are any of the other linebackers and that's troubling. I think I said something similar to this last week. It will be tough to stomach all year long. Glasgow is at a real crossroads right now and its not an enviable position. He could play players like Cqulin Hubert and maybe it's time to think about giving time to veterans like Daniel Cobb, Tyrone Sonier or Zach Winbush. The fact that the rush defense is so poor isn't entirely the linebacker's fault, but at the very least, there are other options on the team, whereas with the defensive line, Glasgow is playing who he has available and he's playing a bunch of them. Glasgow and/or Tuberville are being incredibly stubborn about the linebackers and it may be time to give-in and let someone else have an opportunity.
Additional Storylines and MVP's after the jump.
DOEGE SAVED THE DAY | We were in the endzone, opposite the student section, so we didn't have the best seats, but what we did have was a neat vantage point for that last drive that saved the day. The drive in itself started off with yet another electric return from RB Ben McRoy and on that final play, a play that was further back because of a botched snap, the play is clearly designed to go to the right, but after what I think was maybe one or two seconds, Doege recognizes that's not going to work and Nevada knows the play was going to the right. Doege reverses field and credit should be given to WR Eric Ward, who never gave up on the play and continued to be there for his quarterback, all alone in the endzone as the Nevada defensive back thought that the chances of Doege reversing and throwing against his body was highly unlikely. Doege, overall, struggled yesterday. The press coverage for Doege threw him and his receivers for a bit of a loop as they couldn't figure out how to give him more time for his receivers to get open. Doege averaged only 5.8 yards per attempt, which is pitiful, but he was so Doege when it mattered and this will sound dumb, but during that final drive I had a sense of comfort when Doege was running the offense. In years past with first year quarterbacks, I was always nervous that it wasn't goign to work out the way I would want for it to work out, but it did work in the best possible way and I sorta thought that Doege wouldn't let Texas Tech fall. Again, I know that sounds dumb, but I trust him.
ONLY PERMITTED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RUNNING GAME IF YOU WERE COMPLAINING BEFORE THIS WEEK | I'll need verifiable proof that you were not happy with the way the offense was churning out yards prior to Saturday. Prior to the game, Texas Tech had been running the ball about 45% of the time and passing about 55% of the time. After Saturday's game, Texas Tech is still in that range. Was every play call perfect? Well of course not, there is not game-plan where each and every play is going to be perfect. But I think that this was more on Doege being patient and letting things open up down the field and he didn't have the patience to do that yesterday. He's going to have to develop that patience and maybe the other part is that he lost his go-to-down-the-field-guy in WR Darrin Moore so he didn't feel comfortable, but he's got to do that if he wants the offense to be successful. Nevada's cornerbacks were sitting on the Texas Tech receivers and I'd guess that most other teams are going to do the same thing until Doege can make them pay. Still, other than a third and fourth down where the offense couldn't get a yard, I thought the offensive line, that lost a starter and C Justin Keown coming back from injury was fantastic, and what Doege didn't do passing the ball, he sure as heck did a fine job of making Nevada pay attention to him on the zone-read.
EXCUSES | I know that you're tired of making excuses and sometimes excuses are warranted and there's nothing that would make me happier than to see a team that isn't injured and is playing at full strength. Lose the team's best starting receiver? No excuses. The team's most experienced defender (WS Cody Davis) and perhaps the team's best athlete (CB Tre' Porter) not even suiting up? No excuses. Lose the team's starting right tackle? No excuses. For me, it's a lot to overcome and I'd blame Strength and Conditioning Coach Joe Walker if this was a situation where players were pulling hamstrings, but these are ankle and knee injuries that are happening in the course of a game and no strength and conditioning coach can do much, if anything, about those types of injuries. It stinks and it's not the way I want it to go, but the team did persevere and I can appreciate the effort/
THE DEFENSE IS STILL STRUGGLING | Again, the defense does need something and I'm not sure what it is. From my vantage point, I couldn't see if the defensive line was just getting pushed around, but what I could see were players not filling lanes and that seems to be where Nevada was able to have their more than a handful of big plays. I don't know whether to blame the linebackers or the safeties for not stepping up because I didn't have the advantage of a replay, but something has to be done and the coaching staff no doubt understands that the rush defense is a huge problem. It's not going to get any easier from this point forward and it will be interesting to see if Glasgow makes any significant changes going forward.
OFFENSIVE MVP |WR ERIC WARD | Five touchdown on the year, including two touchdowns in each of the last two games. He's becoming the scoring threat we thought he might be as a 4-star receiver coming out of high school.
DEFENSIVE MVP | DT KERRY HYDER | The defensive line wasn't good, but I thought Hyder's sack that sealed the game on 4th down was huge. Could also give it to CB Jarvis Phillips that knocked down a pass on 3rd down on Nevada's last scoring drive was huge.
SPECIAL TEAMS MVP | KR BEN MCROY | Just an amazing game from McRoy, as every time that he touched the ball you thought he was going to take it to the house.