The third consecutive loss for the Red Raiders came against the Sooners, and in many moments we traveled back in time, to the period from 2014 to 2016, with a defense like swiss cheese, and an offense that in key moments was unable to provide any kind of solution.
There are still four more games to be played, and Tech will have to win at least two to obtain a (minor) Bowl berth. These games have a relative importance, except for coach Kingsbury, who maybe is on the hot seat again after a 4-1 start.
The Red Raiders have to look at the future once again, as the “Air Raid” will lose the starting quarterback and three out of four of the best receivers, if not all of them. Nic Shimonek, Dylan Cantrell, Cameron Batson, and Derrick Willies are seniors, and Keke Coutee is a junior, but he could accept the blandishments of an NFL career.
The hunt for new names has already begun, and the first young player to answer and place his early candidacy for 2018 is redshirt freshman wide receiver T.J. Vasher. He’s an athletic, tall (6-foot-6) player who was granted a medical redshirt in 2016 and is building a name for himself.
Last season, Vasher was called out by coach Kingsbury with strong words (“He's got to grow up off the field. His approach isn't where it needs to be, or anywhere close. Physically, he's very gifted, but he's got to grow up.”), but now he’s regaining the lost time.
He had his first important game against West Virginia when he had two catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including this gem.
T.J. fell off some against Iowa State, but emerged against the Sooners, as he was the most targeted receiver, and had five receptions for 98 yards. Let’s observe his work in Norman.
Vasher was not involved for a quarter and a half, but then he was targeted three consecutive times, with two completions and an overthrow. Let’s see.
These were the first two receptions. There was nothing difficult, respectively an out and a curl on the right of the field, with limited coverage. It wasn’t impressive, but we could see the guy has good hands, and surely being an all-state basketball player helped him out. In addition, he fought for extra yards, breaking one tackle and keeping his legs moving also when he had two men on him.
Considering his length, he’s absolutely underweight, as he’s listed at 190 pounds, but it’s sure he’ll have an entire offseason to bulk up, gaining mass and strength. Let’s go to the third play.
It was an overthrow by quarterback Nic Shimonek, but we could note how Vasher gained space over cornerback Parnell Motley, one of the best Sooners defensive backs, beating him on the footrace and being ready for a big play. His speed and athleticism are weapons that will be very useful in the near future.
Now, let’s go to the third quarter, as T.J. had his two longest receptions of the game, respectively 34 and 27 yards. In particular, the first catch was impressive, as he an impressive coordination, that’s unusual for 6-foot-6 players.
In the end, just a note that won’t make Pierre de Coubertin proud of me. Vasher is tall, fast, and with long arms, so he’s not easy to stop, and sometimes the defender to commit some penalties. It’s a way like another to gain a first down.
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