Are we all okay? Anyone too hungover after last night, both physically and emotionally? I think Red Raider nation needs a collective hug after that “win.” This article will probably not be that, but I will try not to be a source of further pain.
Last night went about as bad as anyone’s nightmare scenario, the only saving grace is it is always better to suck in a win than it is to wake up to a loss. I’ll start with the offense, which was the least offensive part of the game.
Yost called a solid game, anyone who thinks otherwise is ignoring just how hard it is to get an offense rolling in Week One. An already limited Week One playbook was even thinner due to COVID-19 ruining the offseason. Yes, there were too many inside handoffs against a stacked box, but that was about my only complaint. The backs were excellent, each of them performing well. I am most excited for Townsend, he looks dynamic and explosive. Thompson was great, but I do worry his game is a bit too bruiser at times to be an every down back. This is easily the deepest backfield since Washington graduated.
Yost tried to attack deep, and called screens as the game called for them instead of as a go-to. The hurry up and get stuffed was annoying, as was the QB sneak (that call already being highly controversial). But from a game management perspective, he was far better than last year. The team was just rusty, which was to be expected. Don’t listen to the announcers spouting nonsense, it takes more than a half of live action to get an offense to click.
Bowman was respectable in his first outing. People panicking are again ignoring the reality of his situation. His misses deep are a sheer lack of reps, and after another two weeks of practice and another game I expect that to get worked out. The guy had not played live football in a year, he was rusty. His only pick was just a breakdown between him and his receiver, and he largely made the easy throws. There were more drops than Bowman threw bad balls.
The offensive line was not great, but that looked like a trial and error situation. The stupid, inexcusable false starts aside, a lot of the issue was guys getting used to new positions. They got push, they just looked out of sorts at times.
The good news is this offense will be good. I have no doubt the offense by Texas time will be far better than what we saw last night.
Now, for the bad news. The secondary was horrible, and all that can be hoped is they become just bad. Getting Demarcus Fields back will help get there, as will seeing Schooler in red and black for the first time. That might be enough to get to bad, but that is about it. The corners and safeties were overwhelmed by an nonathletic and untalented receiver corp. Air Raids are going to get yards, but letting someone from a program like HBU throw for 500+ yards is baffling. The receivers were rarely covered, and HBU wins this game if they had a better play caller and caught a few more passes.
Tech defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has the most questions to answer. He called the game scared. His refusal to come after Zappe for large portions of the game was idiotic. The defensive line was awful at generating push, but 3-men rushes rarely succeed. Dropping into coverage did nothing, and yes, the blitzes he did run were burnt sometimes. But not blitzing wasn’t working anyways, at least the blitzes made Zappe work to find his wide open receiver.
I don’t want to talk too much about the defense, because it is depressing, but it cannot be understated how much of a problem this is. Bowman will lead a good offense, but ask Mahomes how hard it is to carry a defense this bad. And Bowman, while good, is no Mahomes. If Patterson can’t scheme better, and if no one on the secondary gets pissed off and makes a change in their game Tech will fail to win more than one more game.
Take the first game of the pandemic season with a grain of salt. In a normal year, Tech blasts HBU. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, do Kansas State and Iowa State lose to the #FunBelt special in a normal year? Of course not, as good as ULL is, if Iowa State gets them at home in a normal year they handle them with a some difficulty. Preparedness and luck will decide this year. There was a lot of bad last night, but with more weeks of practice some of that will be corrected.
Wells has his work cut out for him, but he gets paid millions to fix this. If he can’t this year, which was supposed to be largely a bye year, will become an indictment of his tenure. Heads will roll, and everyone will having their heat rays on him in year three.