A classic Big 12 matchup took place in Stillwater as both offenses came out swinging to start things off. Texas Tech’s defense allowed two touchdowns in the first quarter, but stood their ground and forced two field goals along with two punts and kept the Cowboys offense at bay with 20 points.
The second half saw them up that score by one point, and their defense made enough plays against an inexperienced quarterback to hold Tech at bay and come away victorious. The Red Raiders did what they could and held the Cowboys to less yardage than their own offense, but the Cowboys played efficiently enough to come away victorious.
Given the unfortunate result, the grading this week will be tough despite the effort.
Defensive Line: C
Upfront the Red Raiders had one of their worst games of the year. Spencer Sanders was able to step up and escape the pocket way too often, and the running game for the Cowboys seemed to break through the defensive line too often.
It was nice to see Jaylon Hutchings have himself a great game, but the rest of the guys weren’t having as much of an impact. Tony Bradford himself had two missed tackles, and the other guys weren’t getting the push that we’ve become accustomed to seeing.
Hopefully during the bye week this group can iron things out and come out firing against a West Virginia team that is very beatable in the trenches.
Despite the result, Krishon Merriweather made sure that he had what could be his best game yet. Despite the defensive line not helping much at all he recorded 17 tackles, including a solo sack. He truly has been flying around the field and doing everything that he can for the defense. His best stat of the day was his 3.7 AVDT (Average Depth of Tackle), which is insane for how many he had.
Kosi Eldridge had six tackles but wasn’t as efficient, and the rest of the linebackers subbed in with little impact. This group was up against it with how bad of a push the big guys in front of them were getting, but they stood their ground and the effort was noticeable.
It’s been Merriweather/Eldridge when both are healthy, but as the season has gone on guys like Tyrique Matthews, Dimitri Moore and Jacob Rodriguez have seen increasingly more snaps. When they come into the game, I’d like to see them stand their ground more like the starters ahead of them.
Tyree Wilson and Jesiah Pierre each pressured the quarterback at a high rate and combined for a 1.5 sacks. Marquis Waters lined up outside on occasion has he has all season, but he doesn’t really contribute to the pass rush when he lines up there.
Wilson is the type of guy that when you want to gauge how much of an impact he is having you’ll look at the pressures/hurries he has because if the opposition is smart they’ll double team him consistently. Pierre has 1v1 opportunities all game and should be able to win a majority of them, which he seemed to do this past Saturday.
It was also nice to see the youngster Joseph Adedire come in and having a hurry to go along with a few tackles. Robert Wooten also subs in here but doesn’t have enough snaps to have a huge impact, so he needs to take advantage of the ones that he gets.
Rayshad Williams had the game of his life and quite frankly was a shutdown cornerback to a tee. He was targeted nine times, and was credited along with Malik Dunlap for the 32 yard touchdown pass to Bryson Green.
Dadrion Taylor-Demerson was lined up across from him initially but along with Dunlap crashed down on Sanders when he looked to be running right. Green ran a wheel route, so technically that’s where Dunlap was supposed to be in coverage, then at the end of his run Williams was there to attempt to stop him but DTD tackled him into the end zone.
Other than that one blemish Williams was perfect including FIVE pass breakups. Kobee Minor also had himself a day with one catch allowed for five yards, and he forced an incompletion by pushing a receiver out of the back of the end zone after he caught a jump ball.
This position group has remained solid throughout the year, and once Adrian Frye returns they’ll be even deeper.
The safeties were fine this week, and Reggie Pearson Jr. even got in on a sack. There weren’t any big plays made through the air or ground by this group, but they didn’t get beat much either.
Each of them had their fair share of catches allowed, but they kept the YAC to a minimum. All of these guys are versatile and able to help where they’re needed. The return of Adrian Frye to the corners should be able to help keep these guys in the box or at the safety position and limit how often they’re in mismatches against receivers.
Defensive Player of the Game: Krishon Merriweather
This isn’t even the bias coming out of me, but Merriweather will be at worst a second-round pick. He has shown the ability to cover and cover ground as good as anyone in college football, and teams will notice this when they start looking at the tape.
17 tackles to go along with a sack is enough to open eyes, but the AVDT being as low as it was for a linebacker is insane. We’re going to need him to help us push for another solid season, and as long as he’s healthy I trust this defense to do great things.