After back-to-back losses, the Red Raiders rally to knock-off Kansas in a game I think most are okay saying was must win. With bowl eligibility on the line during the final three games, this felt like the one Tech just had to get.
First Down: Tyler Shough looks comfortable
I did not love every ball Shough threw. A few floated, and a few sailed high. But he was making the correct reads almost every snap, and he showed he can put the ball where it needs to go.
He also does something neither other quarterback to date has done, he can work a pocket. Look at his decision making, he stepped up and scrambled free when the pocket was collapsing, or the hole opened. He moves with ease in the pocket and showed surprising mobility.
Besides the actual arm and legs of it all, he just looks comfortable in the offense. He seems to get it, showing his experience and high-level football IQ. Kittley has his quarterback it seems, especially if Shough stops trying to guide the ball and just starts unloading. Consistency has been missing all year at QB, can Shough string together two good games?
Second Down: An ode to Wilson
Tyree Wilson is the best player on the roster and has played like it almost every snap. He constantly battled to impact quarterbacks, and never once took a play off. Not every snap has been perfect, but 99% have been first round draft pick production. He is the ideal teammate and perfect embodiment of what Coach McGuire wants in a player.
I am totally fine with him never playing another snap as a Red Raider. You just cannot mess with a man’s money. He has given Tech everything they asked for and more.
Third Down: The defense has a big play problem
Almost all of Kansas’ points came on drives with an explosive play. The fullback/TE fourth and one touchdown will grab headlines, but really insert Kansas drive here and there was a play of 20-40 yards.
This is a trend for this defense now. Between the tackles most snaps they are all over an offense. But then there is a bust, undoing the hard work. It’s a combination of poor eye discipline and an overly aggressive team getting sucked in with window dressing. But to be bowling this offseason they have to limit the over-the-top plays.
Fourth Down: Run the ball
This is going to be a bullet point from here on out, because Tech cannot run it enough with these backs. It felt like Saturday Kittley started to get the message. Did he run it enough in key situations? Not always. Did he take the ball out of Thompson’s hot hand? Yes, he did.
But it feels like he is starting to realize that to open things up for these receivers he has to let the backs eat. They are all good enough, and with Valdez now in the mix load management is not remotely a problem. For the last two games of this regular season, let’s hope we see at least 30 touches for the backfield.