Coach Wells made the right step towards bowl eligibility after an enjoyable 38-17 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have had Texas Tech’s number for five years, with Tech’s last win coming in 2013 in Kingsbury’s first season as head coach - so this certainly was a sweet victory.
After falling to Kansas two weeks ago it was apparent there was new energy around the team, especially the offense. Texas Tech wasted no time getting on the board; pulling 7 points out of an eleven-play possession to open up the game. David Yost, amidst the grumbles from the majority of the fan base, dialed up a number of passes down field that exploited the zone defense by West Virginia. Duffey’s longest of the day was an 81 yard toss to Rigdon who showcased brilliant speed and vision to build on Tech’s lead.
Here’s that beautiful connection from Duffey to Rigdon pic.twitter.com/jTeJrlEft8— Viva the Matadors (@vivathematadors) November 9, 2019
Ridgon had an excellent game with three receptions for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Nine different players had receptions by the end of the game, with big showings from Erik Ezukanma and RJ Turner who had over 100 yards between them. Travis Koontz, our lead tight end, also had a big reception but picked up an ejection off the back of an incredibly weak targeting call. Koontz will miss the first half of the TCU game next week, too.
The run game was ever-present as well, with Tazhawn Henry balling out in the first quarter followed by Sarodorick Thompson in the second. Each carrier had two touchdowns but Tazhawn doubled Thompson’s touches with 22 on the day. Thompson did leave the game at the end of the second half with an apparent ankle-injury; he didn’t play in the second half, but he also was not on the training table being examined either. Between the two running backs and Duffey the team totaled 127 rushing yards.
Speaking of the junior who was asked to step up yet again for an injured Bowman... Jett Duffey has showed marked poise and confidence throughout his time at the helm for Texas Tech. Today he went 24/34 for 354 yards and that deep touchdown to Rigdon; far and away from the turnover prone QB we were accustomed to. There remains criticism, naturally. The long ball is still a difficult proposition for Duffey, and there was a key mid-range toss he missed to Ezukanma that could have been easy money. Regardless, Duffey has come into this starter position with maximum effort and that can’t be ignored.
Defensively speaking this is an awkward game to analyze. On the one hand, this defense continued to give up the deep ball - something we all have groaned about since Arizona State - and allowed West Virginia to accumulate 498 yards through the air. On the other hand, this defense kept West Virginia to 17 points, 51 rushing yards, and forced four turnovers. Part of me argues with myself that this three-man rush we’ve got going on allows quarterbacks too much time to make stuff happen - 1) in the Big 12 and 2) with our defensive backs’ pass defense that is just not going to do you any favors mitigating opponent’s pass yard totals. We’re lucky that Austin Kendall wasn’t good today.
One of the big stars from today is none other than Jordyn Brooks. Brooks had another game with double-digit tackles, stacked on 2.5 tackles for a loss, and polished all of that with a fumble recovery. I cannot stress this enough: Jordyn Brooks is one of, if not THE, best linebacker in collegiate football. Helping amass the turnovers was Douglas Coleman and Demarcus Fields, who each picked off Austin Kendall at key momentum areas of the game. Riko Jeffers also balled out by forcing the fumble that led to Brooks’ fumble recovery.
The last time Tech was in Morgantown we were up 35-24 at the beginning of the fourth and went on to lose that game 46-35. This time around we were up 35-10 at the beginning of the fourth and came out with the victory at 38-17. The offense needs to keep up the energy as the game goes on, but I’m glad to see Yost going deeper into the playbook to expose opponent’s defensive weak spots. The defensive backfield needs to get it together sooner than later, but I’m partial to believe that the amount of time we allow opposing QBs to throw (because of the three-man rush) doesn’t do them any favors.
With the win, Texas Tech moves to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in conference. Up next for the Red Raiders will be TCU in Lubbock. There’s ample chance for Wells to make a bowl game this year, but it’s going to take a lot of growth on each side of the ball to ensure that.