Following the huge win at home, the Red Raiders took the show on the road to the Little Apple. Unfortunately, the result was not the same as Texas Tech would fall to a late surge by the Wildcats. The Red Raiders sit at 3-2, very respectable considering the schedule they have faced.
First Down: The Donovan Smith rollercoaster continues
Consistency is usually the friend of success. Smith, to the detriment of the Red Raiders, is consistently inconsistent. He followed up a great showing against Texas, where he was decisive and protected the ball, with a poor outing.
This isn’t about QBR as much as it is 2 turnovers he is responsible for, and another where his arm was hit on the release. That will kill you every week. Smith can’t connect deep a lot of the time, almost every throw down the field at all is behind or high with receivers making circus grabs. He somehow went from calm in the pocket, to rattled and indecisive in a week. Tech twitter has a terrible habit of pretending these issues aren’t there, they are.
He is going to be your quarterback until Shough returns, the staff has made that clear. But Tech will not win games with this kind of turnover prone, ineffective QB play. The fault is not only on Donovan, which I will get to, but he is hurting the effort along with a cast of others. Does he have the talent? I believe he does, and he has flashed it. He just has to relax, trust himself, and string together plays.
Second Down: Kittley is falling into the “I need to play chess” trap
This is really simple, run the damn ball. Your backs averaged a bunch of yards despite the OL not really blocking great. So what do we do in the redzone? We throw it repeatedly which led to Tech kicking one FG and missing the other. This is the “smartest guy in the room” problem as my dad has coined, trying way too hard to outsmart the DC.
If something is working, as the ground game was on Tech’s best drives, KEEP DOING IT. Who cares if the other sideline knows it is coming? They weren’t stopping it for less than 3 a carry anyways even on the worst plays.
The young OC needs to learn this lesson fast, sometimes it is okay to be predictable. It will unlock so much of the offense when he trusts his playmakers to get it done on the ground.
Third Down: Is the defense too aggressive?
When Tech has gotten burned, it sure has looked like it. But is this a real problem? I would say kind of. Giving up those backbreaking runs to a team you knew could not throw the ball was frustrating. However, KSU is also a talented team who blocked very well.
Yes, guys lost track of their lanes and dove in to make a play leaving the backend exposes. But you can clean that up. You are going to live and die by being aggressive, and early returns suggest it will work more often than not.
But there will be plays you get burned, so minimize that by being more disciplined with your eyes. This unit is legitimately good, this is how they get to great.
Fourth Down: The receivers are doing work
I mentioned this above, but the balls Smith is getting out have not been the prettiest. But, they have been in the window for the receivers to go get them. And by golly, they have.
With Price hurt and a gametime decision, someone will have to step into his shoes and take over his always open role. I like Xavier White for that job, he flashed in a major way against the Wildcats. But you have guys like Founji, or Cleveland, or Martinez, or your big as hell TEs, or really a whole cast of guys who can all help their signal caller out.
The reality is, this young group is just making plays. That is all that can be asked of them.