Does anyone remember the early mantra Kliff brought to Tech, ATMO (Air That Mother Out)? The meaning was fairly obvious, but just to be clear, he wanted score as fast as possible using the deep ball as his weapon of choice. However, the stats didn't initially bear out that we actually lived up to that mantra. In 2013, we averaged 11.3 yards per completion, while last year we averaged 12.7 yards per completion. Things have changed this year though. Through two games, we are averaging 15.5 yards per completion. We are ranked #14 in the nation in that category. (Interesting side note the wide open offense of Navy ranks #1). We have increased our yards per completion by 20% versus last season and 33% since 2013 when Kliff arrived. There are lots of arguments as to why the numbers look better this season. The first two games weren't played against elite competition which is a very true argument. Our team is more experienced in Kliff's system. Again that argument is true, but I am more inclined to think it is because we have the perfect combination for the ATMO mantra in Pat Mahomes and Devin Lauderdale.
Why are Pat Mahomes and Devin Lauderdale the perfect combination for the Kliff's Air Raid offense? If you read my post comparing the Air Raid quarterbacks, you saw that Mahomes has the highest yards per completion (15.4 yards/completion) through the first four full games of his career. He likes to take shots down the field and has a knack for completing them. Davis Webb is second on the list at 12.8 yards per completion. Obviously that is a telltale sign that Kingsbury likes his quarterbacks to air it our more but Mahomes has had more success than Webb or Baker Mayfield (10.6 yards/completion) at pushing the ball downfield. Mahomes has 17% more yards per completion than second place Webb. That is a staggering amount.
Devin Lauderdale is a master of the deep route. Last year he average 19.0 yards per reception on 31 receptions. Through two games this season, he is averaging 19.7 yards per reception. To put this in perspective, if he stays on his current average, his two seasons in Lubbock are the highest season averages since the Air Raid landed on the West Texas Plains. Joel Filani had the highest average yards per reception for a season in 2004*, when he averaged 17.2 yards per reception. Filani only had 18 receptions that season. The following two seasons he caught a lot more balls and his average suffered dramatically. Lauderdale is averaging more than 10% more yards per reception than Filani did in 2004. Prior to Lauderdale's arrival, I think Carlos Francis was the best deep threat in the Air Raid years. Maybe Francis still will be after Lauderdale leaves but not if Lauderdale stays on the course he is currently on. Don't get me wrong, Crabtree is the greatest Red Raider wide receiver ever, but he wasn't the pure deep threat of a Francis or Lauderdale.
So sure there are lot of reasons we could point to for the increase in yardage, but some things are just perfect combinations like beer and brats, wine and cheese and Pat and Devin. Be on the lookout for more deep balls versus the Hogs. I am willing to bet Pat and Devin hook up for at least one long touchdown on Saturday.
*Only players with 15+ receptions in a season were included.