After a fast start to the game with yet another electric play from Erik Ezukanma, the Red Raiders offense stalled in the passing game and had to rely on the ground attack for production. From the time they scored their first touchdown it was a full two quarters before they were able to get back in the end zone. That shouldn’t happen against anyone, let alone an opponent that isn’t in the same division as us.
The offensive line was a big factor in the teams performance yet again, as the run blocking was fine but the pass protection was an issue. Another issue was that EZ was the sole producer for us in the receiving game yet again, with no one else getting over ten yards thru the air.
This weeks grades will be pretty brutal, but it’s the second game of the season and there’s still some time to improve where we need to in order to get to where we need to be during conference play.
If you just look at the stats after the game, you would think that Tyler Shough wouldn’t be deserving of a B grade.
However, according to PFF Shough actually didn’t play too bad which I did happen to see with my own eyes as well. He only had one turnover worthy play and was under pressure on 10 of his drop backs and had two of his passes dropped by his receivers.
He did fumble the ball which you don’t like to see but he was also running for his life behind his offensive line so you can’t really fault him.
He didn’t have an impact in the running game like he did a week ago, but he was also under pressure so much that handing off the ball was the best move for their offense on Saturday. He also didn’t look for any of his other guys besides Ezukanma which is still an issue for him and this offense that needs to be fixed soon.
Running Backs: A
Obviously the best position group for the Red Raiders on Saturday, the running backs showed out and were the sole reason that we were able to stay in the game and ultimately take the lead.
Tahj Brooks and Xavier White were amazing on the ground with both guys having explosive plays that impacted Techs offense in a tremendous way. Brooks had 103 yards and 2 touchdowns while White added 88 yards and a touchdown himself.
Neither guy added much to the passing game which is something you want to see improve as White was touted as one of the guys that could be a dual-threat guys for their offense. As far as pass blocking goes, White seemed to hold his own while Brooks needs to improve big time if he wants to see more reps in the future.
Although it did take a while for the running game to get going, that was more on the offensive line and not the running backs themselves. Hopefully they can establish it earlier on in the coming games and provide a spark for this passing game and help it reach the potential that it can.
Wide Receivers: C-
Unfortunately I can’t continuously grade this position high if only one guy is producing. Erik Ezukanma had another amazing game that unfortunately included two drops. He had the opening touchdown for Texas Tech where he ran by everyone and showed off insane speed that makes him one of the best receivers in the nation.
Other than him, no other guy had over ten yards. Myles Price was the only receiver that had a reception which is just about as bad as it gets.
If this offense wants to reach the heights that it is more than capable of, more guys need to get involved and that is where the coaching staff needs to step it up.
Tight Ends- C
With no receptions coming their way and only a slight impact in the blocking game, it’s hard to give this position group more than an average grade. Koontz was on the field quite a bit but was solely used as a run blocker as he was a non-factor in the passing game.
After a week where we saw Koontz get some targets his way and Mason Tharp have a more significant role, this wasn’t what you wanted to see out of this position group. Hopefully in the weeks to come they can be integrated more into the offense and find ways to have an impact in more than just the running game.
Offensive Line- C-
Some of you may think that this grade is too high, and you would be right if this was just about the passing game. The only thing saving this position group from being completely overhauled is their fantastic showing with their run blocking.
Josh Burger and Caleb Rogers were the only two guys that had positive grades in the passing game according to PFF, the other three guys finished in the 50’s and below. Shough as I mentioned earlier was sacked once but allowed to be pressured 6 times from this group.
In the running game the line opened up holes at the right times and allowed a few big plays to carry Tech to victory. There is still room for improvement in this area as you would like to see the ground game get established earlier on, but there’s still time to get that fixed before conference play starts.
After another week in which Ezukanma and the two running backs were the only contributors for the offense, questions are now needing to be asked. How this team failed to get more looks for their other weapons against SFA is mind blowing to me and needs to be fixed this week against FIU or we will be lucky to win 3 more games and become bowl-eligible by the seasons end.
Whether it’s the play call or Tyler Shoughs inability to look at anyone besides EZ, the coaching staff needs to find way to get touches spread around the offense because even Big-12 defenses will know to double or even triple team EZ and force other guys to have to make an impact.
Fixing the offensive line also needs to happen fast before we have to deal with some of the pass rush units in the Big-12.
One last issue I had with the coaching staffs game plan was the lack of touches for the tight ends. Mason Tharp is all of his 6”9 frame and Koontz has proven to be a reliable weapon in the passing game, so finding these guys will be key for us especially in the red zone.