After some slow starts in the first two games of the season, Texas Tech finally found themselves offensively and spread the wealth around to 11 different receivers. While it was a 7-7 game at the end of the first quarter with the only Tech points coming on a pick-six, the second quarter saw the Red Raiders put up 28 points.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Texas Tech legend Michael Crabtree was inducted into the teams ring of honor at half time, so the offensive explosion came just at the right time. This week’s grades are a huge improvement from last week, which you like to see going into the conference opener against the rival Longhorns.
Everything that we wanted to see from Tyler Shough the first two weeks of the season came to life in week 3. He spread the ball around and avoided any turnovers on his way to throwing for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He posted a crazy good PFF grade with an 81.5 offensive grade, his highest of the season. He had 3 big time throws and his average depth of target was 11.8 yards, which you love to see from a quarterback in an offense with as much potential as Tech has.
It was another week with little rushing threat from Shough, but backup Henry Colombi came in and ran for a touchdown himself. It was nice to see some of the backups get the chance to get some reps in during the season.
With the way that Shough played on Saturday, there is plenty of optimism going into the Texas game. His first big game in the Big 12 should be an exciting one that hopefully will result in a win this year.
Running Backs: B
For the first time this season, the running game wasn’t the catalyst of the offense. Neither one of the backs went over 50 yards, but with the passing game going the way that it was it was nice to see that four different guys broke pretty long runs for the offense.
No guy really contributed in the passing game either. I was hoping to see Xavier White improve in this part of his game, but the receivers and tight ends were the guys that were getting a majority of the targets.
It’ll be interesting to see how this unit does now that conference play has begun. Will these guys be the focal point of the offense, or will they be used in more of a change of pace role? If the Red Raiders can establish the run early on in games, it will surely open up the passing game and allow Shough to get the ball to his playmakers.
Wide Receivers: A
Finally, a complete performance from this unit! Transfer Kaylor Geiger lead the way with 6 receptions for 121 yards. He had a big catch down the sideline to set up a touchdown and was constantly getting behind the defense. Erik Ezukanma had a quiet game, and it was hard to tell if that was because of disciplinary reasons or if the offense just decided to find the other playmakers this week.
Trey Cleveland was the lone touchdown scorer from this unit in what was one of the more amazing concentration catches you’ll see this season. Dalton Rigdon only caught one pass but it would’ve gone for a touchdown if he were just a bit faster.
This unit was solid for the Red Raiders and it was good to see the week before heading into conference play where you won’t get away with feeding one guy the ball the entirety of the game. Hopefully this continues and we can see what the guys outside of EZ can do with the ball in their hands.
Tight Ends: A+
The second unit on this team to get an A+ rating for this week, the tight ends showed out and backed up all the hype they were getting in the offseason. Mason Tharp showed off his incredible athleticism to go along with his 6”9 frame, making an acrobatic catch and taking it into the end zone.
Travis Koontz had two touchdown catches that were part of his 6 catch and 53 yard performance. Both of the touchdowns were on similar plays that were setup with Koontz ability to run block successfully.
With this unit putting up a performance like this, it adds a new part of this offense that will need to be addressed if teams are looking to slow down this Tech offense that can be dangerous if these guys are making plays.
Offensive Line: B
The roles reversed in week 3, with the pass protection improving a lot and the run blocking not being as good as the past two weeks. Only allowing one sack was nice to see as it wasn’t really the lines fault with Shough admitting that he misread the defense.
The surprise of this week was that the running game wasn’t as strong as it has been in weeks past. That was more likely than not a strategical move on the FIU Panthers part to force Tech to spread the ball around in the passing game.
It was good to see the pass protection improve in a big way this week. The Longhorns present some problems on defense, but if we can have a performance like this in the passing game and get back on track with the run blocking then this offense will move up and down the field at will.
After two weeks of seemingly relying on Erik Ezukanma and Tahj Brooks for the offensive production, the coaching staff improved that aspect of the game and showed that we have much more to offer as far as playmakers go.
Shough found other guys to throw the ball to and took plenty of deep shots to guys not named Ezukanma to help this offense get some diversity. The running game was a non-factor, but that could’ve been due to the Panthers making a concerted effort to stop that part of Techs offense.
I’m hoping that this is sort of what this offense will look like going forward, with the running game also being a bigger part of the offense. This team has a chance to dominate on the offensive end in conference play, and will be expected to do so with the playmakers that they have.