Coming off a victory over Sam Houston in Week 1, how does Texas Tech's defense respond against a high-powered rushing attack in UTEP? Let's see how the game unfolded.
One of the most consistent things this year for Texas Tech is their offense. Other than drops and penalties, it's been near impossible to stop. The opening drive of the game against UTEP only took 4 plays and 1:03 to get into the endzone as Mahomes and Grant hook up for 60 yards, putting Tech up 7-0. UTEP's opening drive would run into a determined looking defense that forced them to punt. Texas Tech would add a field goal, before UTEP showed why they were 2nd in the nation in time of possession last year with a 5 minute, 10 play, 75 yard drive, cutting into the Tech lead, 10-7. Tech would answer right away with a 5 play 75 yard drive of their own, but only taking 1:05 off the clock.
End of 1st: Texas Tech 17.... UTEP 7
Starting the second UTEP would start deep in their own territory. After being stopped on 1st down, Aaron Jones would take a left side hand off 91 yards for the score. Not what Tech's defense was looking for as they try to change the culture on that side of the ball. After exchanging punts, Tech would get back on the scoreboard with a 6 play, 46 yard drive, once again only taking 1:35 to score as Mahomes would run it in from the 1 yard line.
UTEP's next drive would find them in the red zone, but a drop and a big stand by the Tech defense makes UTEP leave with a FG, but staying within striking distance 24-17. Mahomes wouldn't take long to get back in the endzone taking a zone-read 12 yards for the score. His second rushing touchdown of the day and putting Tech up 31-17. On the ensuing drive, UTEP's star running back, Aaron Jones, left the game with an ankle injury as Brandon Jackson fell on him awkwardly during a tackle. UTEP would be forced to punt and Mahomes would find Reggie Davis behind the defense for a 35 yard TD pass.
Halftime: Texas Tech 38.... UTEP 17
UTEP receives the 2nd half kickoff and Tech's defense quickly forces a fumble to get the ball deep in UTEP territory. Mahomes connects with Lauderdale who dances through UTEP defenders and scampers in for the score. After forcing a punt, DeAndre Washington gets in the act with a 51 yard TD run to put Tech up 52-17. Tech would add a FG and head into the 4th leading 55-17.
End of 3rd: Texas Tech 55.... UTEP 17
UTEP opens up the 4th driving into the redzone again, only to get turned away and forced to take another FG cutting the lead to 55-20. With Mahomes' day over, Davis Webb enters the game, and orchestrates 6 play 74 yard drive, capped by Webb running it in from the 1 yard line. After a mishandled snap, Tech defensive lineman Keland McElrath recovered the fumble setting up another Davis Webb TD run. Tech's defense would not allow another score even though the 2nd team was on the field from the middle of the 3rd quarter.
FINAL: Texas Tech 69.... UTEP 20
Tech forces 2 turnovers and leads the season differential +5
UTEP had 414 yards of total offense
Tech had 674 yards of total offense
Pat Mahomes had 6 total TD's, 4 passing 2 rushing
Davis Webb had 2 rushing TDs
Tech only had 4 penalties for 38 yards
DeAndre Washington had 12 carries for 138 yards
Jakeem Grant had 7 catches for 141 yards
Prediction vs Reality
My Prediction: Texas Tech 52... UTEP 35
When Aaron Jones left the game with an injury this went out the window
Prediction for the game: You can check my full list of prediction here
UTEP runs around a little bit, puts a few on the board, but two early forced turnovers by Tech's defense puts this one away relatively early. UTEP makes it closer after some starters are pulled in the 4th quarter, but Tech wins, setting up the matchup with Arkansas next week. Game not as close as score indicates.
Post-Game Press Conference Quotes:
Q: Is this more of what you were looking for from your teams performance overall?
A: Yeah just finishing. We had talked about it all week. When you have a chance to put a team away, put them away. And so I was glad to see we improved on that from week 1 to week 2.
Q: What was your overall assessment of the defense compared to last week?
A: Better. Gave up that big run early. That's a dynamic back. He's one of the better players we will play against all year. But, got the adjustments made at halftime, really flew around. I thought Pete, and Gary Moore brought a lot of energy and good to see them rally in the second half.
Q: Last week, you talked about killer instinct. At one point it was 24-17 and you rattle off 31 points. Was that the killer instinct you were looking for?
A: Yeah, when you have a chance to put a team away, put them away. We knew if we got them out of that ball control, running they like to do, they'd have a hard time keeping up with our offense. We felt the momentum turning, the guys kept going and got it done this week.
Q: What difference was it having Pete back on defense?
A: A lot based on his energy and toughness. He brings some intangibles to the field that are hard to replace.
Q: As far as confidence for this team, to have a blow out win for y'all?
A: I think it should help, definitely. Like we talked about, just finishing the game. That's something we never did last year. We didn't do it last week. So it was good to see us take that step this week. Obviously our competition steps up tremendously next week on the road against a great SEC team... so we'll have to get better this week.
Q: Jakeem, really set the tone early didn't he with his performance.
A: He did. He's been doing that all through camp. Been talking about it this week about his maturity on and off the field that I've seen. The leadership, the way he's practiced the way he's worked it's like a different guy than that was here the first few years. So hopefully that continues.
Q: Do you feel confident, now, that last week was an anomaly, a fluke so to speak?
A: I don't know. That was a good offense. Good team. Number one FCS team in the country. They did some great things schematically that they took advantage of. Like I said it's 59-31 in the 3rd and you don't close out the deal. Let them hang around and score two late touchdowns. I'm just glad to see improvement from week 1 and week 2.
Q: Only 4 penalties and won the turnover battle 2-0. This has to be more of what you're looking for.
A: That's it. That's been the key the first 2 years why we lost a bunch of games where we lost those battles, penalties and turnovers. So if we continue to win that battle, we'll give ourselves a chance.
Q: That possession in the 4th quarter where the defense holds UTEP to a FG. Was that a defining moment for the defense/
A: They had fought so hard to that point, I just wanted them to finish the deal... finish the 2nd half. And they did, they stood up and held them to 3. That was a big momentum deal for us.
Q: How do you feel about your team's preparedness for now, what's perceived as a very tough 3 game stretch?
A: I feel like we've gotten better from week 1 to week 2, which is all you can ask for at this point. and so now we need to make that stride from week 2 to week 3. But, those are 3 tremendous teams and we'll prepare for Arkansas and continue to improve.
Q: How much do you put into your defense's success in the 2nd half after Aaron Jones got hurt?
A; I don't look at it like that. Aaron Jones is a tremendous player and I felt awful that he got hurt, but I felt our effort throughout the second half, even when started rotating in some backups, those guys kept playing hard and swarming to the football.
Q: Does that speak to Davis Webb the way the team responded to him after the scores?
A: No doubt. I can't say enough about him. Every week, he gets limited reps on some of the more complicated plays... and on Thursday, when the ones are done, the two's go and he executed them like he's done it all week. He goes out here and he's 100% on all of his reads, did everything exactly right and that's a credit to him, the way he prepares and the type of player he is.
You can catch most of the rest below:
As always leave your comments about the game. Send your questions for Tuesday's Q&A to me on twitter @avcoachsmith or in the comments section.