Obervations – New Mexico
Crowd: I was pretty hard on the crowd after there were 10,000 no-shows at the opener. So I have to hand it to you for the New Mexico game. You were loud when it mattered. Also, the Raider Power chant was as good as it's been in awhile. That may be a product of the band being in the south end zone.
Who's in: Zach Winbush started in place of Sam Eguavoen at OLB. Good to see Winbush get an opportunity to see what he can do with the first unit. Michael Starts also got some playing time in the second half, thus burning his redshirt. He did well, but it's too early to tell if it's a good move or not. There's a risk/reward when you do it. Best current example is LaAdrian Waddle starting the 2009 Texas A&M game due to injury and only playing 2 games his freshman year. I'm sure coaches now are wishing they had another year with Waddle. I'll say this, there has to be something either in Starts or on this team that makes Tuberville think playing Starts will be worthwhile.
Who's out: Marcus Kennard and Cornelius Douglas didn't play due to injury, but are scheduled to return for Iowa St. Tony Morales dressed out, but did not play Out for the season are Aaron Fisher and Matt Wilson. Jeremy Reynolds was carted off after getting upended on the sky kick kickoff. He said via twitter that he had torn an ACL, which would keep him out the remainder of the season.
Game ball – Offense: Neal Brown. When your team rolls up 702 yards of total offense and the balance is 54% pass and 46% run, you're not only doing things right, you're doing them to near perfection. Most impressive to me was that Texas Tech rushed for more yards against New Mexico in one half than Texas did the entire game. Honorable mention to Eric Ward and Kenny Williams.
Game ball - Defense: MLBs Will Smith and Blake Dees both played a complete game making tackles on the option and in coverage. I really like what Dees is doing. He's a kid who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He may not have the speed or athleticism of Smith, but I'd be comfortable with either a MLB. Smith continues to get praise from coaches with his smart play.
Pass offense: Everything was at Doege's disposal for most of the night, as it seemed that almost everything that the offense tried worked. We saw another missile-screen to Jakeem Grant that was called back because of a penalty, but it worked and it was very reminiscent of Nehemiah Glover. The outside receivers also had a big night. There's no easy way to defend Texas Tech right now and the Red Raiders are making teams pay for it. The other really noticeable thing Texas Tech did offenseively was put Amaro and Tyson Williams on the field at the same time as inside receivers. Saturday was really the first glimpse we got of what Williams could really do. He's physical and has the speed to outrun a linebacker in the middle of the field. On Eric Ward's second touchdown catch, they inverted the normal 4 receiver formation and had both inside receivers up on the line of scrimmage and both outside receivers off the line. It was powerful. And you saw what Ward could do with a couple of steps against his defender on that play.
Running game: The last time Texas Tech had two players with over 100 yards rushing in the same game was 1998. Eric Stephens and Kenny Williams each had their moments. Williams continues to be the more punishing of the two with highlight level runs in consecutive weeks. Stephens is getting there. I think the bye week will really help him recover and give him a boost before the conference season begins.
Rushing defense: Texas Tech again holds an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing. Fans hope what they're doing translates to the tougher competition that lies ahead. I think this bodes well for the Iowa State game because it means that Cyclone QB Steele Jantz will have to try and beat them. The one thing that's a little concerning is that the Red Raiders have not faced a number one running back. Marcus Curry was sidelined for Texas State and DeMarcus Rogers was out for New Mexico as well. Texas Tech probably would have preferred to face the best version of these offenses in non conference, but that cannot be controlled. James White will be healthy for Iowa State so we'll see in two weeks if the Red Raiders can keep up the pace.
Passing defense: Again, they draw an incomplete. When you only face 12 pass attempts all night, there's not a lot of conclusions that can be drawn. Eugene Neboh played well again and Bruce Jones did a good job in place of Cornelius Douglas. D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis were helping with run support. This unit will have to step up at some point, but it may be another couple of weeks.
In totality, as Coach Tuberville alluded to, the Red Raiders can't play much better than they have in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Part of meeting expectation is doing what you're supposed to do, when you're supposed to do it and this team has done that. Now it's time for the fun, unpredictable part of the schedule. To some fans, this is the part that makes the rest of the year awful, bearable, or incredible.
Observations from around the league.
TCU has a long way to go. Yes, they beat Kansas on the road to open Big 12 play, but they had help. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 3 times in the red zone and Dane Crist is showing why he is playing for Kansas right now and not finishing up at Notre Dame. Kansas' defense is better than I thought. If their offense keeps turning the ball over, it's not going to matter much. I do like KU's running game.
Texas is better offensively…maybe…and not as good as previously thought defensively…maybe. The longhorns churned out 66 points in Oxford against an SEC school and did it with a majority through the air. Malcom Brown returned to the lineup and Johnathan Grey continued his progression with 50 yards. Texas also threw a few different "Boise-type" wrinkles into the offense with Brian Harsin using Olympian Marquis Goodwin on a reverse. Defensively the horns gave up several big plays, which is uncharacteristic, but makes you wonder if the offense is that much improved, they will take more chances and give up more big plays on D.
Baylor got a scare from Sam Houston State. Watching A&M and SMU trudge through a half, I kept wondering what this did tell us about Baylor, but the Bears got it going in the second half. Their test will be Friday night at Louisiana Monroe, who should be 2-0 against SEC east schools right now. Don't know if the scare against SHSU will be enough for the Bears or if the loss at Auburn will let a little air out of the balloon for the Warhawks.
OSU lost QB Wes Lunt to a knee injury. We won't know how serious it is, and with Texas on the horizon for the Cowboys, it will be about 10 days before we know the full extent of Lunt's injury. That said, J.W. Walsh is plenty talented. He was a rival of Scotty Young's in high school and the two had epic battles between Denton Ryan and Guyer. There will be little to no drop off between Lunt and Walsh. OSU still ran the ball all over Lafayette as well. Joseph Randle is the real deal and right now, the best back in the Big 12.
West Virginia does what it does as well.
Iowa State cruises. We'll see them in 2 weeks to open conference play. Their run defense is stellar. I think the Red Raiders will have to win this one through the air.