After a victory like the one the Red Raiders obtained against Texas, there are many topics that could be analyzed, as many offensive and defensive players had an outstanding night.
Keke Coutee, T.J. Vasher, Jordyn Brooks, and Dakota Allen were all names that also deserved more attention, but in this could-have-been-last video room of the year, I decided to focus on one of the possible starters at quarterback next season, sophomore McLane Carter.
On Friday, he was the biggest surprise on the field, as coach Kingsbury unexpectedly decided to give him the first start of his young career. If we only look at numbers, his performance wasn’t good, but there are some things that can be built off to develop him into a good starter. Let’s break it out.
In the first quarter, coach Kingsbury opted for a soft approach to put his quarterback in rhythm and to avoid early mistakes. Consequently, he called many slants, screens, and short throws of no more than 10-12 yards.
Carter, who’s a lefty, had a good start, completing these throws and hitting his receivers with accuracy, working in tight windows, showing also some arm strength with a fast release. In addition, he scored the first Red Raiders touchdown, on a 1-yard-run.
Always in the first quarter, McLane had his longest completion of the game, a 51-yard throw to Vasher. It really was a nice pass, but it showed a problem that would become bigger later in the game; underthrows. T.J. had to make a tough adjustment to make that reception possible, and he could do it only because the defender was too far to interfere.
After this drive, that ended with a Clayton Hatfield’s field goal, things became more difficult. Texas understood the importance of underneath plays for Texas Tech and began to bring more pressure on the line and press coverages on the receivers.
Consequently, Carter had less time to throw, he became more and more inaccurate, defensive backs deflected several passes, and then interceptions happened. It has to be said the fault is 50%-50% with Cantrell, who slipped on the field and allowed Chris Boyd to catch the ball, but the throw really was risky.
The second interception had to be charged only to No. 6 instead, as he badly missed Vasher, while the latter was running a short “in” route. The ball sailed well behind T.J.’s back and was easily caught by another defensive back, Davante Davis. That was a huge mistake, also because the receiver wasn’t far at all and had a clear advantage over the defender.
In the second half, McLane almost immediately made two nice throws to Vasher and Cantrell, but he often began being off-target, missing open receivers, underthrowing a couple of passes, and risking further turnovers. Texas’ defense clearly took measures to limit him and, in fact, forced Kingsbury to substitute him with Shimonek, who stepped in and won the game.
Generally speaking, Carter faced many difficulties during the game, conceded at least one avoidable turnover, and showed a lack of accuracy and power, in particular when the throws had to be longer. That said, he also showed interesting pocket presence, wasn’t scared of running the ball, and also tried to find difficult solutions.
It’s not granted he’ll be the starter in 2018, as there will be Jett Duffey and recruit Alan Bowman in the mix, plus maybe some senior transfers we can’t imagine at the moment. We’re talking about a good player who has to improve but, at the same time, gave us glimpses of what could be.