Scott Fitzgerald gives his observations from the Red Raiders upset of then-No.24 TCU…
The Texas Tech football team has played an average opponent, a poor opponent and a good opponent. The Red Raiders have enough of a track record, therefore, that we can now reasonably assess how the various position groups have fared in comparison to preseason expectations.
Quarterbacks: There was obviously a great deal of concern when word leaked out that Michael Brewer was hurt and that true freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield would start in his stead at quarterback. But Mayfield was brilliant in his first two starts. He faltered somewhat when faced with the excellent TCU defense (the Frog defense has flummoxed many a veteran quarterback, too), but another true freshman, Davis Webb came in and carried Tech to victory. Thus, on the whole, quarterback has been a real strong suit, and it looks as if Kliff Kingsbury has two pretty good options at this position.
Running Backs: With veteran Kenny Williams being supported by the return of the formerly impressive freshman Deandre Washington, running back was considered a certified team strength coming into the season. Unfortunately, the backs have hardly lived up to billing. Indeed, Baker Mayfield and third string back Quinton White have more rushing yardage than both Williams and Washington! Combined, Washington and Williams are averaging 2.98 yards per rush. If that stat doesn't improve significantly, somebody else will be toting the pill for Tech during the meat of their conference slate.
Receivers: The expectation was that Tech's starting quartet of Jace Amaro, Jakeem Grant, Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez would be very, very good. And if anything, that group has exceeded expectations. Amaro is on an All American pace. Grant has been electrifying, and his hands have improved. Marquez is now the master of the go route, and leads the Red Raiders with three touchdown receptions. Only Ward has not overachieved. He was good enough over the first two games but could not shake TCU's Jason Verrett. An added bonus has been the play of freshman Reginald Davis. He's caught a pair of touchdown passes and adds some dynamism to the receiving corps.
Offensive Line: A big part of the problem Tech has had running the football has been the lack of push and crease created by the offensive line. The loss of starting right guard Beau Carpenter certainly hasn't helped any. Pass protection has been okay, for the most part. Both tackles, however, have struggled a bit in this area. Still, the general consensus coming in was that the offensive line could be a sore spot, and indeed it has been.
Defensive Line: Even with the loss of Michael Starts and Delvon Simmons, we had an inkling that Tech's defensive line would be pretty good. And indeed it has been. Kerry Hyder is coming on and played his best game of the season against the best competition, TCU. Dartwan Bush hasn't exactly gouged the stat sheet, but he always seems to be around the ball. Jackson Richards is finally emerging and becoming the player he was expected to be coming out of the high school ranks. And good depth has come from Demetrius Alston. All in all, the line has done a solid job of both rushing the passer and establishing a good wall to thwart the run.
Linebackers: The Red Raider linebackers looked strong in spring in fall workouts, but this group has been historically such a liability for Tech—pretty much since Zach Thomas graduated—that few people believed their lying eyes. Well this time seeing is believing. Every single game, at least one linebacker has been huge. Will Smith, Pete Robinson and most recently, Terrance Bullitt have all done great things. Fourth starter Sam Eguavoen has quietly been this unit's glue. And Micah Awe, coming off the bench, actually leads the linebackers in tackles with 21. Bullitt, incidentally, has also been a terrific help in pass coverage.
Secondary: This group was seen as a liability coming into the season, and although it may have started a bit slowly against SMU, has really improved. The secondary was probably Tech's best position group against TCU. Bruce Jones has punched far above his weight at one corner, while Ola Falemi has held his own at the other. J. J. Gaines snagged an interception against TCU, while Tre Porter is having a terrific senior season. He leads the Red Raiders in tackles with 22.