10 Things: Texas Tech 23, West Virginia 20

This thing is 4-1.

1. Game Links:

Game Recap
Box Score
Game Book

2. Who Is Healthy. It would probably be easier to just go through the roster and discuss the healthy players rather than all of the players who are not healthy. Texas Tech was without:

  • Center Dawson Deaton
  • Receiver Erik Ezukanma
  • Running back Tahj Brooks
  • Safety Marquis Waters
  • Safety Reggie Pearson (departed during the game)
  • Cornerback DaMarcus Fields
  • Linebacker Kosi Eldridge (departed during the game)
  • Running back Chadarius Townsend (departed during the game)

That’s a heck of a MASH unit and despite all of that . . .

3. Texas Tech Found a Way to Win. The number of times that Texas Tech loses a game like this are many and varied and there’s no reason that Texas Tech won’t win games like this in the future, but they won a conference game on the road against a difficult opponent (because winning on the road is difficult in conference play) and earning a win. It certainly was not pretty. It certainly was uneven.

However. It was certainly a win. And you celebrate wins. The whole “but West Virginia is a terrible opponent” is neither fair nor really accurate. They are probably in a similar boat to Texas Tech and they’ve had better success than Texas Tech recently. I also don’t think they were as banged up as Texas Tech was.

But they did the thing. Have they climbed the mountain? No. But this was a danged hard-fought and tough win and that’s the sort of thing that should be celebrated.

4. Two 4th Quarter Drives. Maybe the most important thing that happened is that West Virginia spent over 7 minutes driving the ball in the 4th quarter in an attempt to take the lead. In fact, West Virginia started the 4th quarter with all but a shade over 3 minutes elapsed. A 13 play drive that got down to the Texas Tech 6 yard line resulted in a field goal. The defense obviously bent significantly, but didn’t break and it held despite WVU having a ton of momentum leading up to that drive, having scored all of their points in the 3rd quarter and it looked as if the Teas Tech defense was on their heels.

Holding West Virginia to a field goal is incredibly important and it meant that Texas Tech would have a chance with 4:31 remaining. And then Colombi connected with Geiger for 42 yards and what looked like a daunting drive starting at the 16 yard line ended up being much easier. WVU then trying to protect against a touchdown, there was finally room for Thompson to run the ball where he ended up running for 32 yards and set up a 32 yard field goal for Garibay to knock it through the uprights.

Texas Tech would gain over a third of their yards in the 4th quarter, 126 total (thanks to 2 big plays from Fouonji and the aforementioned Geiger play) and wound up going just 3 for 4 passing the ball and running the ball 9 times for 29 yards (remember that Thompson lost 5 yards on a play as did Colombi to set up the field goal).

The clock management to give West Virginia as little time as possible to do anything with the ball when they got it back was terrific. Or at least I thought it was really terrific. Granted, I would have loved a touchdown, but I’ll take it.

5. Offensive Thoughts. Henry Colombi isn’t going to light the world on fire, but he’s certainly good enough. He was efficient, completing 68% of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt is certainly passable. I thought he did a good job of taking what the defense gave him and when he saw that a receiver was locked up one-on-one, he throw the ball as far as his arm would allow. Chunk plays to Kaylon Geiger for 42 yards, Loic Fouonji for 46 yards (that help set up the 1st field goal in the 4th quarter), Jerand Bradley for 18 yards, McLane Mannix for 15 and Trey Cleveland for 17. Those are big plays, so to get those big chunks of yards is significant.

The addition of Donovan Smith was a nice wrinkle and I appreciate Sonny Cumbie thinking outside the box a bit. My hope is that Smith gets an opportunity to drop back and pass, but given how he has no game experience, this was a good way to get him some live snaps that matter and of all things, Smith ended up tying Geiger as your second leading rusher for the game with 14 yards.

I thought the receivers played extremely well, difficult to find fault there. The line was good enough, not perfect by any means. The line gave up 3 sacks and only managed 2.7 yards per rush. It was certainly uneven. In fact, Texas Tech would be out-gained (more on that in a second) and as stated above, from an offensive standpoint, Texas Tech would not have won this game. It’s not as West Virginia had a huge turnover deficiency, both teams having one turnover, but West Virginia just didn’t have one extra field goal and I’d also add that the Texas Tech offense capitalized on the lone West Virginia turnover converting that to a touchdown with an incredibly short field.

6. Defensive Thoughts. West Virginia outgained Texas Tech 424 to 346, averaged nearly a yard more running the ball and 9.4 yards per attempt. Seemed like duct tape and flex seal trying to hold things together, but they did. The stand in the 4th quarter was huge and the fact that West Virginia couldn’t convert 6 of 11 3rd downs was significant with only 1 of 2 opportunities to convert on 4th down.

I’m tempted to say that had WVU played Greene, the running quarterback, more, then we might be talking about a different outcome. And Doege was fine, but that 2nd and 3rd quarters were rough with with the offense essentially not helping at all, a single field goal between those 2 quarters at the end of the half, there was plenty of opportunity for WVU to pour on the points, but they simply didn’t, having to settle for a field goal in the third was also significant.

The best Texas Tech defender was by far Colin Schooler and just might be my player of the game. 15 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack were all the most significant plays of the game.

7. Nit-Picks and Pick-Me-Ups.

  • I know that the secondary was really struggling with player availability, but I do knot know how the secondary operated in the second half. There simply just weren’t enough players given the circumstances and I’m not sure how that works next week. The good news is that the secondary was able to limit those big plays and there were no huge touchdown catches. WVU had to punch the ball in and that’s where they struggled.
  • I thought the defense did a much better job of swarming to the ball this game than apparently what happened against Texas. I am sure that was a point of emphasis.
  • We really haven’t heard Tyree Wilson’s name a ton and he finally got some pressure. I’d like to see more of him please.
  • Fouonji only caught 2 of his 6 targets. I can’t say that I remember the 4 he missed and the one he made was big, but this was the biggest disparity of targets vs. catches. I should add that Travis Koontz also only caught 1/3 of his targets, but he was pretty well lit up on that one that would have been a pretty big gain.
  • Geiger was 7 of 11 on catches to targets and Geiger’s ability to come back and adjust to that underthrown ball from Colombi may have been the play of the game.
  • The ability of Austin McNamara to average 46 yards a punt and pin 2 inside the 20 yard line to make WVU drive the ball were significant yards in the grand scheme of things.
  • It is nice to see SaRodorick Thompson get back. I enjoy his energy. The second touchdown where the line pushed him over the goal linen was a ton of fun and I always being on this end of those plays. They seem a bit demoralizing for a defense, to just get manhandled.
  • There were 8 different ball carriers on the day. That’s not something you seen in a normal box score, usually its 2 running backs and the quarterback, but Thompson, Smith, Myles Price, Xavier White, Chadarius Townsend, McLane Mannix, Geiger, and Colombi all had at least 1 carry.

8. Field Goals Made. I’m never good about considering what might have happened, but I think that there were plenty of missed opportunities last year with winning a game and missing key field goals. Last year Trey Wolff was 1 of 5 and Jonathan Garibay was 8 of 11. Making just 56% of your field goals while your opponents make 81% is a recipe for disaster. I don’t know if you recall, but Texas Tech lost to Kansas the final game of the year and made just 3 of 6 field goals. The fact that the team was settling for field goals is one thing, but kicking away a win is the reason why Texas Tech loses that game (among other reasons).

Thus far in just 5 games, Garibay has made all 6 of his attempts and I think expecting 100% the rest of the way is unrealistic, but without all 3 of his field goals yesterday, Texas Tech doesn’t win this game.

9. Coach Quotes.

Opening Statement:

(This was a) big win by our guys. It’s hard to put into words. I haven’t really had much time to think about it right now. (It was a) big, emotional win. The game of football in a season can have its ebbs and its flows. In terms of football adversity, we’ve been through some in the last six days. (We’ve had) hard conversations, being real with each other. This win is absolutely credited to our players. When you leave eight guys and two of your top corners and two of your top receivers at home, your quarterback, your center, your safety, then you get in the game and you have guys going down, it’s just the essence of team and staying together and pulling together. When you do it together, you care about each other more than you care about yourself. You can accomplish some special things. We’re certainly not there yet. It’s a big win against a very, very good, tough, physical West Virginia football team. (They are) very, very well-coached, but we will celebrate and get ready to go to round three. It’s simply that we lost round one and we just kept moving. (Give) credit to those players in that locker room. I couldn’t be more proud of them.

On the team’s resiliency after the third quarter:

The game of football is hard. It’s a tough sport played by tough men. There are the ebbs and the flows of the game. It’s an emotional game. (Give) credit to our guys. We played great fourth-quarter defense. We won the fourth quarter, stopped the run, ran the ball and started fast. We did everything we wanted to do in this game, in terms of our keys to victory, in terms of internally and what we were talking about since Monday.

On what makes Henry Colombi special:

The first thing is, he’s a coach’s son. He grew up around the sport, he’s tough. He’s tough-minded. He’s been coached hard. He’s kind of got that South Florida confidence and swag. He’s confident, and he works. He’s got the confidence and the trust of his teammates, which is extremely important. Making the other 10 guys around you better is the best quality you can have as a quarterback. (Junior quarterback) Tyler (Shough) is a very good QB, and our guys have confidence in him. When he went down and Henry came in and performed in Austin, our guys weren’t surprised. They have a lot of confidence in Henry.

On senior kicker Jonathan Garibay’s field goal to win the game:

We were going to try and bleed that clock all the way down and make it as difficult as we could for them (West Virginia). I’ve been really proud of Jonathan over the last eight or nine weeks since we started training camp. He’s been practicing well, he’s calm. He’s been even keel, kind of steely-eyed and just a very, very consistent young man in his life and in the way he’s practiced. Certainly, the moment is not too big for him. He had his moment. We talked about that in our team meeting last night. Meet the moments, and the impact that you can have in a moment and you don’t ever know when that moment is coming. Henry (Colombi) had a few today. JG had one, and he absolutely drilled it.

10. Players of the Game

Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: Difficult not to give it to Garibay, the last field goal was clutch and all field goals were in the makeable range, 33, 29, and 32

Swiss Army Do-It-All Defender of the Game: Schooler for sure. The 15 tackles and forcing the 1 turnover were huge in hindsight.

Player Finding His Way: Jerand Bradley and Loic Fouonji are going to be problems for Big 12 defenses. They’re so danged developed and big. Love to see it.

Road Grader of the Game: Josh Burger getting his first start at center with no snapping mishaps earns this award for me. That’s probably not an easy task, but to combine that with calling coverages too. Give it to the big man.

Eraser of the Game: I’ll go with Jaylon Hutchings, who had the other sack and ended up with 4 tackles. I can’t imagine trying to play on a 3-man line, but he’s been pretty consistent this year and be part of the defense that allows just 3.4 yards a carry to Leddie Brown is an improvement.

Lighting a Fire The Colombi bombs were all big and absolutely key to the offense. Colombi going deep and often made this offense click.


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