Well, recaps are always less fun after a loss. Just the nature of the business to be forced to relive a really kind of bizarre loss. Here we go.
First Down: This defense is for real
Devin Leary: 15/23 121 yards 0 TDs
Wolfpack backfield: 32 carries, 123 yards 3.8 YPC
If I told you before the game this was how the game would go, I guarantee all of us would have expected a 2 touchdown Red Raider win at the minimum. The defense swarmed NC State all evening, eating up everything they tried to do. Really outside the long trick play touchdown, and one slow methodical drive in the third that ended with one hell of a hustle play to force a fumble, NC State never really did anything offensively.
Tech would end the night with two sacks thanks to Tyree Wilson, 7 TFLs, and 4 QB Hurries. That combined with the lights out night from the secondary, including the 4 breakups by Malik Dunlap, and this defense is starting to look like one of the best the Big 12 has to offer. It is not perfect, and the injuries are starting to pile up, but these guys can flat out play.
Second Down: Tech suffered some road woes
7 penalties for 69 yards is not terrible, but the timing of the penalties and what they were was particularly frustrating. Multiple false start penalties set drive after drive behind the chains. Tech struggled to handle the crowd noise, and I would say this team learned in a hurry how tough winning on the road will be.
The bright side, good to get this exposure now before conference play.
Third Down: Tech has got to get out of its own way
Tech drops a punt after a strong opening defensive series, unacceptable. Multiple negative plays after penalties every time the offense made a step forward, unacceptable. Multiple interceptions and bad decisions by the quarterback, unacceptable. Just bizarre playcalling in key situations setting Tech up for failure, unacceptable.
Execution was the death of Tech last night, as the short fields allowed the Wolfpack to snag key points that proved to be the difference. Think of it this way, thanks to turnovers (pick six and punt drop) Tech spotted the Wolfpack 10 points. They gave them another 10 on short fields due to a bad punt and a turnover on downs.
That is literally the game right there. Tech was not the better team Saturday night, but if it had just gotten out of its own way even a little they might have still gotten this done thanks to a heroic defensive effort.
Fourth Down: Donovan Smith is not the answer for Tech at quarterback
Disagree if you want, but I saw Donovan take more sacks than the offensive line actually allowed. They were nowhere near perfect, but the line handled pressure okay most of the night and Donovan either sat back way too long or made a bad read and bailed early. He does not look comfortable inside a pocket, and usually steps into defenders instead of away from them in it.
His passes were the definition of not crisp, with receivers being forced to make tough grabs all over the field. He seems to be struggling to make decisions, taking sacks standing around. Most damningly, he fails at protecting the ball.
We all saw how Big 12 teams will defend Donovan last night. They are going to send exotic blitzes, or drop 8. He is not working through his reads, he will turn it over, and as long as you spy him effectively you can neutralize his legs. He checks the ball down in a hurry, and then will weirdly decide not to and takes a sack. He throws to nowhere land, and has no touch on his deep ball. Yeah, that secondary was the best tech will see but was he really any better against UH?
Hars? Maybe, I know Smith wants to win. The effort is there. and he has flashed the ability. But this is a Power Five program trying to build something better. This ain’t peewee football, time to take a hard look at who is the field general.
I am not sure Morton will be your savior, but I have seen enough of Smith to know he probably is not. He has failed the consistency test and to me most alarmingly he does not protect the dang ball. Flame away, but the devil I know is not getting it done so might as well try the devil we don’t know.
Maybe Morton fails, and I am not someone who gets to see practice film. Coaches do, and they have gone with Smith despite the potholes. But at some point does it not make sense to try something new instead of get the same performance over and over?
I think Smith will start against Texas, so let me be clear I am rooting for him to succeed and praying this article is the coldest take of all time. But man, what is the harm of trying something new?