This is the performance that we have been looking for from this team against the higher level opponents.
What’s surprising is that Redshirt Freshman Donovan Smith was the man behind center leading the way for Texas Tech. He showed why maybe he should’ve been put in a game or two earlier as he led the Red Raiders to a 41-38 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones.
There really is no bad grade to go around besides maybe one position group, but even then it didn’t have as big of an impact as we all thought it would. This was one of the better all-around performances from this team that I’ve seen in quite some time.
Donovan Smith ladies and gentlemen. One of the players that was least likely to make an impact on this team when the season started just led us to one of the biggest wins that this program has had in a long time. He finished 25/32 for 322 yards and three touchdowns on the day to go along with 50 yards on the ground.
This offense was unstoppable for most of the game and got in its own way during the second half which led to not as efficient of a performance as there was in the first half. Smith seemed to make all of the right throws, especially on the last drive of the game which put Tech close enough for Jonathan Garibay to launch the 62-yarder that sealed the deal for us as time expired.
Going forward, Smith should be the guy for this team even if Tyler Shough is healthy. I really think that this kind of a performance against this good of a team is worthy of keeping the starting job until you show that you are incapable of handling it.
Running Backs- A
Each of these guys in the backfield found one way or another to contribute. Tahj and Sarodorick both finished with nine carries, but Brooks finished with 80 yards while Thompson ended up with 45 on the day. Xavier White finished with three receptions for 14 yards but wasn’t given any touches in the ground game. Both Brooks and Thompson didn’t have too much of an impact in the passing game as they combined for three catches and 27 yards.
Having three different guys that can keep a defense on their toes is exactly what this team needed. Brooks and Thompson finished with a touchdown each and seem to always find themselves making big plays as the season goes on. White is the guy that should be split out more often for this team as he’s the better route runner of the bunch.
Wide Receivers- A
This group continues to show how dynamic and dangerous it can be if given the opportunity. Erik Ezukanma is a name that should be talked about much more than he currently is as he had 32 yards on the ground to go with four catches for 54 yards and two incredible touchdowns where he just showed off his size and ability to go up and get the ball in the air.
Myles Price was the only other receiver with multiple catches but he led the way with nine receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown as well. The Sophomore has shown plenty of times this season that he is capable of being a threat if you just allow him to be in single coverage while defenses are more focused on stopping the running game and EZ.
While a few of the other guys finished with only one catch, it was nice to see this group show off its depth as the season comes to an end and coaches are trying to figure out which guys that are going to be here next year are proving their worth during this year. Having plenty of one on one opportunities with defenses focused on EZ is the perfect way to show off their abilities to get open and make plays when the opportunity presents itself.
Tight Ends- C
With little production to base this grade off of, the Travis Koontz drop that turned into an interception is really the only noteworthy play from this group and it wasn’t a good one at all. With Mason Tharp out, Jed Castles had an opportunity to get some snaps and came up with on catch for 17 yards on the day.
Not much else to say besides wanting to see Tharp out there much more often in these last few games as he is the future at the position. He has the ability to become a Charlie Kolar type of threat where he just seems impossible to guard, especially in the red zone.
Offensive Line- A
This group parted the red sea for the running game so often that I thought I was back in my church school days. Holes were gaping wide and Donovan Smith had plenty of time to throw as this group put up such a great performance that we’ve all been anxious to finally see.
It seems like there’s always a few things that go wrong each game with this group, but on Saturday they very easily could’ve been the best group out there for the Red Raiders and showed some hope heading into the last few games of the year.
Coaching/Game Plan- A+
This is why we brought Sonny Cumbie to Lubbock, to put up offensive performances like this. This reminded me of the type of game that a guy like Trevone Boykin or Kenny Hill would have under Cumbie as Donovan Smith was super efficient through the air but also had an impact on the ground. If Smith can play in a similar fashion to those guys and be a dynamic threat that scrambles to throw instead of scrambling to run the ball all time then Texas Tech will have found its quarterback of the future.
Whatever these guys told the offensive line over the bye week must’ve worked because I haven’t seen them put together a full game of blocking like this all year. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come as we still have two tough defensive teams coming up in Oklahoma State and Baylor.