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Four takeaways from the Red Raiders victory over the Jayhawks

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Texas Tech improved to 5-2 on the season and is one game away from bowl eligibility

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 16 Texas Tech at Kansas
Donovan Smith rushes for a touchdown
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Texas Tech football team (not an intentional nod to the NFL team located in Washington D.C. but I do dig their jerseys and helmets) dominated the throwback jersey wearing Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, KS by a score of 41-14. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure Kansas should even be classified as a D-1 football program. Would anyone be surprised if the Jayhawks started the season 0-3 if they played Tech’s non-conference schedule?

Houston and SFA most likely beat them handily. Kansas and FIU are probably a toss up and that’s a loss in my book. Nonetheless, regardless of opponent, there were things Red Raider fans can take away from the latest victory.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 16 Texas Tech at Kansas
Henry Colombi
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Texas Tech won the game

This should be a given against Kansas. In most cases it is; however, it was only two years ago and the last time the Red Raiders played in Lawrence that Tech lost against Kansas. It took a bit of a fluke decision to lateral a ball after a blocked field goal attempt but I think we can all agree that Tech shouldn’t have even been in a position where that play would have cost them the game. That was definitely a low point in the first season of Matt Wells.

Fast forward to this season and the current state of affairs and not only did Tech win the game in dominating fashion, but they put themselves one win away from bowl eligibility. Texas Tech is 5-2 on the season and is the best start for Wells so far. The last time Tech started 5-2 was in 2018 during Kliff Kingsbury’s last season and subsequently lost their final five games. Wells will be attempting to avoid that same scenario. Kingsbury was relieved of his duties after the 2018 season. A similar result might end with a similar conversation with AD Kirby Hocutt. Many believe that a 6-6 record is the minimum requirement for Wells to remain the head coach for the 2022 football season.

I’m not going to project what I think Hocutt is thinking on that front. Let’s just win seven or eight games and continue building toward more successful seasons so we don’t have to even worry about it. The sooner the negative Nancy’s are quieted by the team’s success, the faster the fan base can begin the process to re-unify.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 16 Texas Tech at Kansas
Erik Ezukanma
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Texas Tech committed only one penalty

The Red Raiders were called for only one penalty and it was only of the five yard variety. It was a false start on a field goal attempt with the game no longer in doubt when the score was 38-0. Tech currently ranks third in the Big 12 at 43.0 penalty yards per game. They have committed 35 total penalties on the season at a pace of only 5 penalties a game. I’ll channel my inner West Texan and say, “that dog will hunt.”

This is the type of statistic that gives a guy like me some encouragement that Wells is a better coach than some fans are willing to admit. The small number of penalties show that the day-to-day coaching of the current staff is teaching proper fundamentals. I don’t remember the last time a Tech player has lost his cool and was flagged for a selfish unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. There have been some 15 yard penalties that looked unintentional to me like a facemask or hit to the head. Certainly none that cost the Red Raiders a game or contributed to a loss like we may have seen in the past.

I’m fully aware a lack of penalties doesn’t win games and Wells needs to win games. I can hear the negative comments in my head from those that want Wells gone. However, penalties can definitely contribute to losing games. The haters will dismiss the importance of this improvement but as Coach Tadlock says, I think Wells has his players “playing the game the right way.” The players are being taught the fundamentals of how to play the game and it appears to be paying off.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Kansas
Donovan Smith
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Smith threw passes (plural)

Donovan Smith threw his first passes on the season and first as a Red Raider this past weekend. The playbook for Smith is beginning to open up and future defenses will have to take that into account going forward. I think it was a perfect time to unleash the additional talents of the Lubbock local Frenship HS product. Kansas was an inferior opponent and Smith could find success with his arm to build confidence. I’ve absolutely loved the Donovan Smith package that Wells and Sonny Cumbie have instituted. I think Cumbie has used it perfectly so far.

Smith was four of five passing for 70 yards. These were the first pass attempts Tech fans have seen from Smith in a real game. If Smith can continue to progress, the future at the quarterback position looks bright. If Tech can keep Smith and Behren Morton on the roster for the foreseeable future, I like the direction this team is headed. Both are Wells’ recruits by the way.

On that note, how great was it to be in a position to see Morton come into the game not because of injury, but because the game was already in hand. I know Kansas is a vastly inferior opponent but it’s still acceptable to enjoy a win.

TCU v Texas Tech
Sonny Cumbie
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Sonny Cumbie has been successful as Tech’s OC so far

The hiring of Cumbie as Tech’s Offensive Coordinator has proven to be a success so far. Tech scored 41 points against Kansas but could have scored quite a bit more if desired. It doesn’t appear that Wells is a run up the score type of guy. The Red Raiders offense currently sits fifth in the Big 12 in scoring at 35.7 points per game. Baylor is third at 38.3 points per game and TCU follows in the fourth spot at 37.2 points per game. The Red Raiders are not far behind while mostly using their second string quarterback and significant time missed from key wide receivers and running backs.

I felt like Cumbie was the obvious choice once David Yost was let go and nothing this season has swayed me from that opinion. Cumbie has proven to be about a 50/50 split on calling a run or a pass. I’m very much in favor of this type of offense. It definitely keeps the defense trying to guess more compared to when we were probably 90% pass and 10% run. Check out these pass run splits Cumbie has called in the seven games Tech has played so far.

  • Houston - 24 pass attempts and 28 rushing attempts
  • SFA - 22 pass attempts and 28 rushing attempts
  • FIU - 37 pass attempts and 37 rushing attempts
  • Texas - 34 pass attempts and 33 rushing attempts
  • West Virginia - 35 pass attempts and 30 rushing attempts
  • TCU - 41 pass attempts and 37 rushing attempts
  • Kansas - 25 pass attempts and 42 rushing attempts

Kansas is the outlier as it was almost 2-to-1 in favor of calling a running play but generally speaking, the plays have been relatively even. As Tech continues to progress through the remainder of their schedule, it’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues.

Shout out to the TechHoopsGuy Twitter account for this stat that I have verified to be correct. Tech is indeed 7-3 in it’s last 10 games dating back to last season. There were two wins against Kansas in that stretch but it still paints a much different picture than the outspoken anti-Wells social media accounts do.

Tech is now charged with attempting to do something Wells has yet to do since arriving in Lubbock. The football team needs to win back-to-back conference games. Looking at the current perception of the rest of the teams Tech will be facing, Kansas State may be the best chance for Wells to cross that off his list. The Red Raiders need to “stack wins” as Wells has stated on multiple occasions.

Therefore, let’s use these points I’ve mentioned in this article for the Wildcats as well. Cumbie needs to continue to call an effective offensive game plan. Smith should continue to progress and have more play call at his disposal. Keep the penalties at a minimum and let’s go win two games in a row.

Who’s with me?