After a tough loss to Texas, Texas Tech had to travel to Morgantown and face the West Virginia Mountaineers who were fresh off of their own conference loss. The offense didn’t reach that 30 point mark that I pointed out in the offseason as a key to winning games, but they did just enough and with some help from the defense found a way to win a tough football game.
Two short rushing touchdowns from Sarodorick Thompson were the only touchdowns that were scored by the Red Raiders as Jonathan Garibay made three field goals, including the game-winner with 18 seconds left to push the Red Raiders past the Mountaineers.
The grades for this week will be a lot better than last week, but not by much as the offense definitely could’ve put up some more points.
With no touchdown passes and no interceptions, the quarterbacks were not as solid as you would’ve liked to have seen but were solid as far as turnovers went. Henry Colombi went 23/34 with 266 yards. He was sacked three times but did make a big time throw that helped setup the winning field goal.
Colombi may not have reached the end zone, but you could tell that the offense was still functioning well with him at the helm and should definitely improve as the weeks go on. Colombi wasn’t as effective on the ground this game but he didn’t need to be as Tech was in control for most of the game.
Kaylon Geiger was the only other player to throw a pass and his was intercepted, but he isn’t a quarterback so I won’t ding them for that play.
Running Backs: B
The running game was solid in the short game when they were at the goal line, but only mustered 80 yards total. Thompson had the most yards with 48 as Tahj Brooks missed another week. It’ll be interesting to see how Brooks is used now that Thompson is healthy and back in the mix.
Chadarius Townsend and Xavier White couldn’t get much going on the ground, but White did have 2 catches for 20 yards which is more than weeks past.
Part of the poor performance could be due to the offensive line just not playing its best right now, but you would also like to see these guys be the playmakers that we thought they could be. White still has yet to have an explosive game in the receiving department, so I will be looking for his role to be expanded in that department once all the running backs are healthy.
Wide Receivers: B+
Although there were no touchdowns scored through the air, it was nice to see that plays were still being made from this group. Both Kaylon Geiger and Loic Fouonji made key explosive plays that helped set the offense up nicely.
The rest of the receivers did what they could with their opportunities as 7 of them got their hands on a reception in this one. This was partly due to the surprise absence of Erik Ezukanma, who usually eats up targets on a weekly basis.
The diversity was nice to see, but it was also good to see Geiger get a majority of the targets and receptions with EZ out. The past few weeks he has established himself as the clear second option when EZ is either out or being double teamed. This has given the younger guys an opportunity to make plays against essentially the third best corners and sometimes the safeties which are favorable matchups more times than not.
Tight Ends: C
It was another slow week from this group as Travis Koontz took in one reception for seven yards and that was it. Although that’s a disappointing stat line, both he and Mason Tharp contributed in the run game and had very good PFF grades in that department with Koontz having the highest on the team at 84.7 and Tharp having an 84.2.
Their lack of targets could be due to the fact that Henry Colombi has seemed to be looking for the deep shots more often and feeding the receivers instead of checking it down to the tight ends or looking for the easy open passes.
I’m beating a dead horse here, but I would still love to see this position group utilized more often. This position group is talented and should be fed early and often to take advantage of the matchups they’ll usually be getting.
Offensive Line: C+
This group didn’t really standout in any part of the game this week but was good enough to get the job done. Ethan Carde filled in for Dawson Deaton and allowed two sacks himself, but the rest of the starters played solid.
The running game is still and issue, and when the tight ends are the two leaders in run blocking grades then something needs to change. It could be the change in level of competition, but the good teams are able to adjust and do what they need to do to open the holes that make the offense dangerous.
If Deaton can return then I can see this unit improving, but Carde seemed to be a liability in his first start and needs to improve if he’s going to be relied on to be the next man up.
This was a step in the right direction for the offense and Sonny Cumbie as they seemed to be moving the ball pretty well for most of the game. The run game needs to improve as I have said but other than that it felt like we were able to convert third downs consistently (8-14) and get into scoring position.
Where I would like to see an improvement as the weeks go on without Tyler Shough is the screen game and finding certain players targets. This team is explosive enough to take screens a long way, and using them to open up other things could help this offense without Sough.
I would also like to see guys like Mason Tharp and Xavier White be used more in the receiving game. Tharp can get downfield and make a play on the ball that not many people his size are capable of and that needs to be used more often. White is a versatile player with homerun ability and should be given the ball in space more often.
Other than that I really like the direction this team is going on offense and am excited to see them build on this performance in the weeks to come. Turning the field goal drives into touchdowns will be key against the better conference teams, but it got the job done on Saturday.