With there being no Red Raider football to watch today, now would be an appropriate time to illustrate the three best surprises for the Red Raiders so far this season. This was harder than I thought as this year has brought many new things to this team and many new things to be very excited about.
No. 3: Second Half Defense
I know that this defense hasn’t been perfect this season, not even close. What this team has done is not put itself out of games in the second half due to defensive struggles like in years past. This year has been different, as the team has only allowed 7 points to the opposing team in the last three games. The defense has struggled at times, but the halftime adjustments have been game-changing. The defense has helped the offense tremendously and is the main reason the team was able to make such a strong attempt at a comeback last week against the West Virginia Mountaineers. They made Heisman candidate Will Grier look average at best in the second half of the game.
Texas Tech’s defense dominated TCU.— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 12, 2018
To the very end. pic.twitter.com/Z9aXQ2Adg0
This has also allowed the Red Raiders to control the ball more, something they are able to do with their impressive running game (I’ll get to that in a bit). In the game at Oklahoma State, the team was able to dominate time of possession because the defense was able to force the opposing offense of the field when they needed to. The offense has been able to benefit tremendously from this defense in the second half and actually didn’t make me too nervous when we didn’t score on every possession. This was surprising to me and to some of you due to the way our defense was torched in week one against Ole Miss. This defense gets better every week and that will help the team as a whole get better every single game.
No. 2: Stable of Running Backs
The two running backs expected to make a contribution to the running game this year coming into week one were Da’Leon Ward and Tre King. Since then, we’ve seen all five of the team’s running backs play roles and get a good bulk of carries. I am not so surprised with how this team has been able to run the ball, but how the team has been able to use all 5 of the running backs and make them all successful.
Five players on this team have 100 or more yards rushing on the season. Four of those are running backs with Jett Duffey being the outlier as his great running game against West Virginia vaulted him over the 100 yard mark for the season. All five of the backs have gotten 15 or more carries this season, that’s a ton of carries through five games for five different guys.
Who else is really excited that this team has been able to run the ball? This team has been effective with the playcalling making sure that each player has the ability to showcase each of their talents. Ta’Zhawn Henry has really surprised me with his pass-catching ability as he has also caught 12 balls out of various positions on the field this season. I am really excited to see his improvement as a receiver as he is maybe the most versatile player on this team. Demarcus Felton was originally going to transfer but has stepped up big time while Da’Leon Ward and Tre King were out with injuries. Ward has been limited but has shown us great burst and elusiveness out of the backfield. King hasn’t been healthy this year but has shown flashes of what he was able to do last year. Henry should stay in the lineup as he has burned his redshirt for this year but since SaRodorick Thompson has only played in 4 games this year, they will most likely keep him on the sidelines for the remainder of the year.
No. 1: Alan Bowman (duh)
When it was pretty obvious that McLane Carter was going to be out for an extended period of time, I was optimistic that Bowman would be able to manage the offense for Carter while he was out. I was happily shocked at the way Bowman was able to command the offense and make it his own going into the West Virginia game. Any man that can break a record by the great Patrick Mahomes is worthy of commanding the offense. He has adapted to the college game very quickly and that is part of the reason the offense has really taken off. After his first start, I was hesitant to name his the go-to-guy for the rest of the season after he didn’t really take many deep shots down the field.
Records broken on this play:— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 15, 2018
➡️ #TexasTech single game receiving yards (Antoine Wesley, 261)
➡️ Big 12 single-game freshman passing record (Alan Bowman, 605 yards, a record previously held by @PatrickMahomes5 )
He proved us all wrong again as against Houston, Bowman was able to zip the ball down the field and complete the only obstacle (in my opinion) to making him the most complete quarterback on this roster. Not only has Bowman been able to throw the ball, he has been able to be mobile in the pocket, which has helped him tremendously this season. Although he did not play in the game against TCU, I fully expect Bowman to be back in the limelight soon enough.
What do you all think of this list? Did I miss any big story-lines that surprised you more? Let us know in the comment section below!