1. Game Links:
Postgame Press Conference:
2. Concerning? Yes, concerning. coming off of last week where it just looked like everything clicked for the offense and defense, but then this game happens and the exact opposite of that happens. Everything that looked good last week just didn’t happen. The offensive turnovers are an equalizer pretty much any situation and some of those turnovers were self-inflicted, but other turnovers were the result of some fantastic coaching by SFA. I mentioned before the game that I thought that the SFA coaches could probably coach and, unfortunately for Texas Tech fans, that ended up being true. That’s a coaching staff that’s headed towards a significant pay raise at some point.
As far as Texas Tech, the offense simply felt like it just never made any adjustments and it was really just explosive plays, but the yards churning out yards and moving the chains was something that just wasn’t there. In fact, the offense only had 11 first downs on the night, which is insane to put up 28 points on just 11 first downs. That’s an issue. Sonny Cumbie was a big-play sort of coordinator for TCU and he has to figure out the small stuff. Winding up for the big play wasn’t working, and of course, Texas Tech fans always had huge issues with the screens from the Yost offense, but maybe that would have been a good look for a team that’s pressuring so much.
3. One of the Worst Performances. This is not intended to be offensive, but it certainly will come across this way. I think that the Tyler Shough quarterback performance was one of the worst I’ve seen in a good while, just a over 50% completion rate and 7.8 yards a completion, but of those 163 yards passing, 75 and 55 came as a result of Erik Ezukanma making huge plays after the catch, which means that Shough had roughly 33 yards passing to anyone else not named EZ. Shough was easily rattled after the pick-six and that was a miscommunication on the part of him and EZ, but given how SFA was pressing and how that defender knew exactly where the ball was going to be, I’d think that it was Shough that made the wrong read.
Nevertheless, Shough’s rough day was a reflection of the offensive play-calling too. I mentioned above that Cumbie loves to go deep, but Shough didn’t have time to go deep. The offensive line, which we’ll get to shortly, had issues with protection and many times, SFA was bringing 5 guys, so there just wasn’t time to do much of anything. SFA absolutely took away the short stuff and absolutely dunked on the offense from the standpoint of taking things away from Shough and Cumbie.
4. You Are Who You Are. Last year, we were really reminded because of the Houston Baptist game that you really are how you play. If there are large issues with the offensive line being able to protect the quarterback for any time longer than 3-Mississippi or to create consistent rushing results and dominate an FCS team, then those are real issues that will likely improve, but never be fully corrected in the course of the season.
Statistically, the offense churned out 201 yards rushing and averaged 7.4 yards a rush, yet in the fourth quarter when it would seemingly be important to continue to do what you are doing really well is to continue to run the ball. In the third quarter, the offense ran 13 times for 141 yards an had 2 pass attempts. In the fourth quarter, it was 4 attempts for 8 yards and the passing game produced 3 completions on 5 attempts for 57 yards (55 of that was Ezukanma the first drive of the fourth quarter). Wells said that they blitzed an additional run defender in the box, but that would also stand to mean that there was an opening in the secondary that was never exploited.
The offensive line simply has to be better, that was the weakness heading into the season and it is still the weakness today. Not to excuse the quarterback play, but I think a large portion of the issues start up front, but calling the game was an issue too. Texas Tech only had 2 drives in the fourth, the first was the large result of Ezukanma not being denied, but the second was a 3-and-out affair, a false start, a complete pass for no gain to Xavier White (which means that it was essentially a screen), White runs for 6, and then an incomplete.
The entire fourth quarter was 13 plays and possessed the ball for 4 minutes.
Time of possession, again, this speaks to the inefficiency of the offense more than anything else, was 40 minutes for SFA to 20 minutes for Texas Tech.
5. How to Judge a Defense Always on the Field. this one is tricky because it felt as if the defense played well, but they were literally never off the field. The quarter where the offense was on the field the longest, the third quarter, Texas Tech still lost the time of possession by a minute, meaning that every quarter SFA held onto the ball for minutes longer than the Texas Tech offense.
That also means that the defense was gassed. It would be one thing if the offense was popping off touchdowns, but that’s just not what was happening. The defense allowed .17 points per play (15 offensive points allowed, i.e. not counting the pick-6 and the extra point and 88 total plays for SFA). That’s a pretty fantastic statistic, which means that SFA spent a ton of time spinning their wheels, but when you look at the final stats, SFA had 343 yards passing and averaged 4.3 yards per play. They were bailed out with some less than timely penalties, but they converted the shit out of some fourth downs and their quarterback would convert some passes under the type of duress that usually results in incompletions. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that most quarterbacks that Texas Tech will play this year won’t be able to do what Self did.
And the rush defense was fantastic, allowed 1.1 yards per rush? That’s pretty well insane. I’d also add that the 5.8 yards per attempt is also really good, but it was simply the inability to force a turnover on downs in those fourth down attempts were killers. And SFA had absolutely nothing to lose.
I’d also think that another way to think about this is that SFA had 1 offensive touchdown, the defense forced a field goal when punt return was fumbled and SFA was gifted with a short field and then that shit-show at the end of the third quarter, going for it on 4th and 3, a 32 yard loss that flipped the field again giving SFA the ball on Texas Tech’s 26 and that was the lone touchdown. Given all that the defense had to deal with to only allow 15 points is darn near amazing.
6. Good Things on Defense. I thought that the constant defensive pressure on SFA was amazing and the defense accounted for 10 quarterback hurries and only 2 sacks (they were very timely). Again, Self’s ability to get off passes when he was seemingly going down to the turf was darn near other-worldly. Most college quarterbacks can’t do that. Another hat-tip for sure. I’d also add that the tackles for a loss, 7 on the day, helped that 1.1 yards per rush average. A loss of 22 yards were impressive for sure.
Funny statistic, Texas Tech’s defense had 81 tackles, compared to 44 for SFA. Hilarious.
7. Jaylon’s Redemption. I felt terrible for Jaylon Hutchings, in what looked like a situation where Texas Tech would surely turn SFA over, sitting at 2nd and 30 with a shade under 6 minutes left in the game, Hutchings beat his man, reached out with his paw and just flat out ripped off the helmet of Self, which resulted in an automatic 1st down. I honestly believe that this ill-timed penalty was the only reason this game was closer than it needed to be, and Hutchings certainly could have gone into a shell, but he then proceeded to make an absolutely stellar tackle for a loss on 1st and goal and then on the very next play he beat his man again and sacked Self for a loss of 6. That’s a loss of 9 yards all by himself and if it weren’t for backing SFA up, I think they would have scored. The defense was absolutely gassed and I felt that a score was inevitable.
8. Brooks Can Play. If given more opportunities, I think Tahj Brooks would have run for 200 yards, but he was limited to 11 carries and 115 yards, not a bad day by any means, but given his effectiveness, he really should have had 20 carries and I’d also add that Xavier White looked fantastic too, who had 87 yards on 7 carries. The running game was absolutely explosive and if Texas Tech is able to add SaRodorick Thompson to the mix, I think that if the offensive line can muster a bit more protection, the running backs absolutely slap.
9. Nit-Picks and Pick-Me-Ups.
* I think that if it weren’t for the outstanding play of SFA’s special teams, they aren’t in this game. This speaks to the importance of special teams and how they can single-handedly keep you in a game and how mistakes in the special teams, or failure to make plays can cause a game to be close that shouldn’t be close at all.
* The official time of possession was 40:07 to 19:53.
* Texas Tech converted 5 of 10 3rd downs.
* Texas Tech went 2 for 2 in the red zone, while SFA went 3 for 5, 1 touchdown and 2 field goals.
* Reggie Pearson, Colin Schooler, Demarcus Field, and Dadrion Taylor-Demerson all led the team with 7 tackles.
* The reporters were all over this post-game, but Cumbie has to figure out a way to get receivers not named Erik Ezukanma the ball. Of the 11 total receptions, 6 of them were to EZ and 2 went to Xavier White with 1 going to Tahj Brooks. That means that 2 went to receivers and they gained a total of 4 yards. That’s probably on Shough and Cumbie.
10. Players of the Game
Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: I’m going to go with Tahj Brooks, 122 total yards, 115 rushing and 7 receiving.
Swiss Army Do-It-All Defender of the Game: I’m going to go with Colin Schooler here because he had 7 tackles, 2 pass break-ups (one of them was absolutely huge 3rd down stop) and 3 quarterback hurries.
Player Finding His Way: Dadrion Taylor-Demerson was fantastic, 7 tackles and his ability to make open-field plays was great. Exhibited tremendous speed.
Road Grader of the Game: I’ll have to go with a combination of Josh Burger and Dawson Deaton, that interior of the line did a good job of opening up holes and some of it was misalignment by SFA, but I think these two played really well.
Eraser of the Game: Quietly, Rayshad Williams had a really good game, 3 pass break-ups and 3 tackles.
Lighting a Fire: Ezukanma was absolutely electric and I shudder to think about what would happen if he had not broken that 55 yard run in the second half.