Week one of the college football season is in the books! Texas Tech started their season off nicely with a 45-10 victory over FCS opponent Montana State, and the offense led the way with nearly 700 yards. It was a balanced effort without many poor moments, and nearly every player performed well. With that being said here are the offensive grades and offensive player of the week for the Montana State game:
It was a solid start to the year for returning starter Alan Bowman. The sophomore put together a complete performance, going 40-55 with 436 yards and three total touchdowns. Bowman’s start marked his first game with at least three quarters of action since last October, and as such some rust was to be expected. Bowman came out on fire, completing his first nine passes of the afternoon before finally throwing an incompletion off a busted screen play. The biggest positive to take from Bowman’s performance was his ability to control the offense, as he showed great poise and seemed to thrive in the no huddle system that David Yost utilized early in the game.
Jackson Tyner came in for one possession and threw two incompletions. Surprisingly the presumed backup Jett Duffey did not make an appearance, which could suggest that he lost the role to Tyner.
Running Backs: A
All three running backs that got significant playing time in the opener managed to perform, and given how the past few years have gone that statement alone is reason to celebrate. In one game Coach Wells managed to put together a running back rotation that was more balanced than any Kliff Kingsbury rotation in the last few years. Ta’Zhawn Henry had 12 carries for 55 yards, while Armand Shyne had 125 yards on only 11 carries. Shyne’s best moment came from a 69 yard touchdown where he split the defense and ran it straight through the middle of the Bobcat defense. Sarodorick Thompson had a solid two touchdown day with over 70 all purpose yards before going down with an injury in the fourth quarter. If the running backs continue to all pump in solid performances it will go a long way in determining the success of this team.
Wide Receivers: B+
Without a doubt the surprise of this football game was the play of Xavier White. The sophomore slot receiver was listed third on the depth chart despite quietly impressing coaches in fall camp, however by the end of the game White had emerged as the team’s leading receiver thanks to two long catches. He fumbled after making the first catch, however his moment came just a few drives later on a 45 yard touchdown where he made multiple great moves after the catch. White could emerge as the main inside receiver if he continues to play at such a high level.
The rest of the receivers still had a solid day. Both Dalton Rigdon and McLane Mannix were solid if unspectacular. Erik Ezukanma had a great start to the game before playing more of a blocking role later on. R.J. Turner and KeSean Carter were both quiet in the bits of playing time they got. T.J. Vasher had the only real drop of the day from the receiving corps with a touchdown that went off his hands, however he also had a solid day catching six passes for 72 yards despite lacking a play over 20 yards.
The only real blemishes for the receivers were the Xavier White fumble and a few route running miscommunications on screen routes that forced Bowman to throw the ball away. Both issues should be fixed as this offense continues to develop and learn a new system.
Offensive Line: B
This grade might be a little harsh given the success the team had running the football, however without Terence Steele it seemed like both tackles were struggling to contain the rush. Bowman was only sacked once, however he was rushed quite a few times and after the first quarter rarely had a fully functioning pocket that allowed him time to scan downfield. The interior line was great and created a lot of holes for the backs to run through, however the tackles struggled to create space on the outside. Having Terence Steele back should help out, and with the experience of the line it would not be a surprise to se more great running performances.
Player of the week: Alan Bowman
I could’ve gone a few different ways with this choice. Xavier White, SaRodorick Thompson, Armand Shyne, and Dalton Rigdon all had days that were in some way considered for this award. After reflecting on the game as a whole, however, I decided that Alan Bowman was clearly the offensive player of the week.
Bowman did not have a signature play like White or Shyne, but his command of the offense for all four quarters allowed the team to play in control despite running over 90 plays of offense. That alone is worthy of recognition. His performance throwing the ball was exactly what this team needed in week one. He threw for 439 yards despite playing in a vanilla form of the David Yost offense, and managed to hit 13 different players for catches. Bowman illustrated that he is capable of working in many different receivers into the game (something he struggled with as a freshman). While most of his work was done within ten yards of the line of scrimmage, I believe that was more to do with the conservative gameplan from Yost as opposed to Bowman simply not having the arm talent or patience to go downfield. Week two against UTEP should allow Bowman more opportunities to get acclimated with new receivers and a new system, but this game was certainly a great start.