Kudos to Texas Tech for doing what they should do – winning big against Kansas at home. It wasn’t a total domination, the defense and offense have both had better games and have yet to play their best games together in a single performance, but it was solid. Both offense and defense started well, although Bowman and T.J. Vasher both had to shake off a little rush and it took some time for the offense to find a rhythm. Let’s hope that late offensive rhythm translates directly into starting fast at Iowa State and we don’t see more early start woes.
Welcome Back Bowman Award
There were rumblings all week that we’d see Alan Bowman take the field for the Red Raiders against Kansas. In my mind that was definitely preferable. I was not interested in seeing Kansas pit their greatest strength of turnover defense against Jett Duffey’s greatest weakness of ball security. I also didn’t want to see Bowman go into Ames and face a top 20 defense without having gotten back into game tempo, regain some confidence, and take a couple of hits that didn’t collapse his lung. Bowman came out firing and completed passes to six receivers on Tech’s first drive. That drive ultimately stalled and Clayton Hatfield nailed a 48-yard field goal. The offense wasn’t perfect, they scored 3, 21, 3, 21 respectively across the four quarters and did give up some turnovers. Ultimately, Bowman feasted on the Kansas secondary going 36/46 for 408 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception at the end of the first half. Bowman found 10 receivers on the day, including two of his running backs coming out of the backfield for receptions. Tech’s passing performance accounted for the most yards given up through the air all season by the Jayhawks.
It’s great to see Alan Bowman back on the field leading this offense again. While Jett Duffey may have more running ability, Bowman’s arm is far superior and his grasp of this offense outpaces Duffey’s athleticism in the open field. Bowman executes at a very high level, and as you see below he often puts the ball on the money to his receivers. I would argue that some of the misses we saw from him Saturday were the rust I’m talking about. Maybe in part it was his arm, but probably had more to do with missing reps and needing to reestablish good communication and instincts with his receivers. His final touchdown pass to Collins on a rollout was something to see. It’s reminiscent of Pat Mahomes’ arm strength, although it’s hard to tell from the angle if he threaded the needle or if a better secondary would have turned that into an interception.
You Da Real MVP Award
Antoine Wesley once again put on a clinic of body control, athleticism, and speed. In my opinion, the most impressive thing about Wesley is the strength of his hands. When he catches the ball over and around defenders it’s more than his height making that possible, his hands are outstanding. Wesley finished the day with 9 receptions for 155 yards and 1 touchdown. He now has 50 receptions for 858 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. He is #3 in the nation in receiving yards, #3 in receiving yards per game, and #20 in receiving touchdowns.
Wesley has cemented himself as Tech’s undisputed top receiver this year. His circus catches have made big waves across college football and his combination of size, athleticism, and speed make him a difficult matchup for anyone in the country. A healthy T.J. Vasher provides another big, fast, and athletic target on the other side to keep defenses honest. Coupled with Bowman slinging the rock Wesley has a ceiling that seems to keep getting higher.
“Showman Bowman,” “Bowman the Showman,” or any other variation is NOT, I repeat NOT, a quality nickname for Alan Bowman. Maybe you could, I don’t know, ask the team or coaches about a nickname? I mean c’mon, that’s just not inventive at all and Fox broadcasters are absolutely married to that uninspired drivel. We did better in 15 seconds watching the Oklahoma State game in Michael’s living room. You’re like 10 minutes removed from a blockbuster musical biopic that everyone would recognize, at least work in the pun or play on words.
The Greatest Bowman
Shining Star Award
These running backs were money all day long catching the ball out of the backfield, stretching rushes into gains with solid yards after contact, and blocking for Alan Bowman and each other. It’s great to see this backfield healthy again and spreading out carries. Their numbers weren’t over-the-top but they rushed for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries. Ta’Zhawn Henry led the way with 62 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and chipped in another 4 receptions for 41 yards. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy watching Henry run. He’s shifty, quick, and fast and he makes people miss. I’m really looking forward to seeing him run over the next couple of seasons.
Brick Wall Award
There were three series that stick out in my mind that the defense really showed what they are about in this game. The defense stood up with the endzone against their backs and once forced a field goal after Kansas had four chances to score trying both to pass and use exceptional freshman running back Pooka Williams. The second series ended with a Douglas Coleman interception in the end zone. It wasn’t a catch for the ages or a wild and memorable situation, but it was opportunistic and most notably HE CAUGHT THE BALL. The Red Raiders had a few opportunities to grab more turnovers and couldn’t hang onto the ball (again). The third John Bonney punched the ball out forcing a fumble that was recovered by Dakota Allen. These three series really displayed what this defense is capable of. The defense allowed Kansas’s season high in passing yards, but also forced their second lowest point total of the season.
Dakota Allen – Allen once again led the team in tackles with 7 on the day (6 for loss), 2 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback hurry, and a fumble recovery. Dakota isn’t leading the nation in any categories or operating as a stat monster, but he’s the leader of a much-improved defense and he makes his teammates better. Allen flies to the ball, gets into position to back his teammates up downfield, and terrorizes opposing offenses in ways the stats don’t always show. He continues to be a solid player for this team and I predict he will make big plays when it counts the most as this team enters the meat of the schedule.
Kolin Hill – Hill finished the day with 4 tackles (3 solo), 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. He was excellent closing on Peyton Bender and finished strong all day. The senior linebacker from Schertz, TX has really stepped up into this role. It’s definitely a positive to see he and Jeffers capitalize on the attention that will be automatically paid to Dakota Allen week after week.
Good Job Award
I don’t want to downplay a good home win, in fact, this snapped an eight-game home conference losing streak stretching back to Kansas in 2016. I know that hurt me too when I found out. The Red Raiders overall had a good day, the offense got rolling and put up a solid passing performance. However, the rushing game fell short of Kansas’s average of giving up over 170 yards per game on the season and over 200 yards per game in conference. I expected Tech to run wild on the Jayhawks’ defense, but I do think it’s fair to remember Tech had some very successful screen execution, which has always worked as part of the running game in the Kliff Kingsbury offense. The turnovers were not ideal, Bowman’s interception was basically meaningless but the fumbles were frustrating. Kansas isn’t first in the nation in turnovers for nothing, they hit hard and work for them.
The defense got after Kansas all day, and at one point after Zach Austin was stripped, found themselves with Kansas on the Tech four-yard line. The Red Raiders stood up Pooka Williams and company and forced a field goal, even after offsetting penalties gave the Jayhawks a second chance at third down. The Red Raiders held Kansas to 4-15 on third downs, which isn’t much to brag about as they are ranked #115 in the country in 3rd down conversion percentage. The Red Raiders also only received 7 penalties for 51 yards, and the first delay of game was ridiculous as the referee was standing over the ball as the clock hit zero.
The trip to Ames to face Iowa State is always a difficult one for the Red Raiders, those from my era remember the Seneca Wallace run as a Mike Leach low point only trumped by 2008 @ OU. Texas Tech will need to carry this Kansas victory confidence into Ames for an early kickoff. We didn’t learn a ton from this team in a win over Kansas, but we did see them come back together. Stawarz, Bruffy, Vasher, and Bowman were all back and performed well. The opportunity to all get back on the field, shake off the rust together, and regain their rhythm could prove to be exceptionally important as we look towards next Saturday. The Cyclones have a top 20 defense and a resurgent offense led by their own freshman quarterback, they’ll also be coming off of a bye week (thanks Big 12 that’ll be the third week in a row).
Despite a still less-than-stellar crowd and the students continuing to bail after halftime, it was a great day in the Jones and another good win that has the Red Raiders in a three-way tie for 2nd in the Big 12 and one win away from bowl eligibility with five games left to play.