10 Things: Texas Tech 41, Iowa State 38

The way it is supposed to happen.

1. Game Links:

Game Recap
Box Score
Game Box

2. 62. Are you at the point, after more than a decade of me writing these things that you sort of guess what the 10 Things are going to be? I start thinking about the 10 Things pretty much immediately after clock strikes 0:00 and there was no way that Thing #1 was going to be a 62-freaking-yard field goal. Never would I have imagined that Jonathan Garibay would have absolutely nailed a 62 yard field goal to win a game. When Donovan Smith had exactly 1:00 remaining and he had to drive the ball long enough, only 31 yards, to get to that point. And the fact that the players were cognizant to get out of bounds when they could to make the play. Just heady play all the way around. And how many times do you think to yourself that an opposing team has given them enough time to win a game and that’s exactly what happened and it simply felt magical. And saying that it was magical doesn’t give everyone enough credit. From the defense holding Iowa State to a field goal to Interim Head Coach Sonny Cumbie chose the wind in the 4th quarter when Iowa State deferred to the second half.

3. It’s Happening Like It Should. I cannot express to you how excited that these things are happening the way that they are. I was not a fan of Matt Wells and the direction that the program was headed. I am so glad that Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and others decided that the Wells era had ended with the loss to Kansas State. I am so glad that Hocutt and the committee chose Joey McGuire to be the next head coach. The energy he brings is infectious and it seems as if that enthusiasm is part of where this program is. I thought that with Wells being let go that the chances of these players experiencing a bowl game would be lost. But a similar enthusiasm has been brought by Cumbie, the Pump Jack Mentality, and he’s absolutely giving his all to the team and the players and the fact that he’s a Red Raider makes this all much sweeter. A bowl game, extra practices, these players and Cumbie experiencing a bowl game, no matter where it is, is pretty great.

You know that saying that life will work out the way it is supposed to work out? That’s how I feel. It’s all just happening the way it’s supposed to happen.

4. Third String. How do you prepare a player that’s been your third string, a player that rarely gets snaps, to be your starter? It’s probably not exactly easy, but here we are. Donovan Smith completed 78% of his passes for 332 yards, over 10 yards a pass, 3 touchdowns, and an interception that probably wasn’t one.

The thing that’s evident with Cumbie calling plays are two things: 1) He’s a lot more like Kingsbury than we probably think; and 2) He is absolutely intent on creating opportunities down the field, especially with inside receivers. Cumbie probably isn’t as inventive as Kingsbury, that play with Ezukanma taking the snap and faking the ball to Smith was fun. He doesn’t do enough of them because they work. As to item 2, consider all of the times that the receivers were one-on-one down the field? A lot. And Smith knew where to go because there was hardly any hesitation when he dropped back on those passes.

5. Defense Did Good. Some praise for the defense. As mentioned above, they absolutely held Iowa State to a field goal when it mattered the most. It’s not fair to discount that because it absolutely happened. And how about a Texas Tech defense that held Iowa State to 89 yards on 25 carries and 3.6 yards per rushing attempt, with the great Breece Hall only gaining 52 yards on 18 attempts and being held to 2.8 yards per rush. That’s a win. An absolute win.

Iowa State was going to get yards from somewhere and Purdy was really pretty efficient passing the ball, throwing for 356 yards and 2 interceptions, maybe 3, and being able to flip the field early in the second half was a huge play when offense was struggling.

6. Why Bowl Games Matter. I know that bowl games are relatively meaningless and there’s a lot of people that think that bowl games are a waste of time, but they’re also fun. I’ll let Jonathan Garibay explain:

“We’ve worked so hard, and I think it was just overdue. Our guys deserve it. I’m a senior and I feel like we’ve collectively worked so hard, and we’ve sacrificed so much to be here, and just to become bowl eligible that gives us another game and for a lot of the guys. You never know, it might be your last time playing college football after this season. To stretch it as much as we can, it’s the best. Who doesn’t love to watch, or play another football game?”

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

  • Cumbie absolutely admitted, and laughed as well, about how he has a flair for the dramatic, and that he’s glad that Garibay made the field goal rather than being questioned as to why he went for it on 4th down twice in the fourth quarter and could have put the game away much earlier than it did. Again, things are happening the way they are supposed to happen.
  • Myles Price was amazing. That conversion on 3rd and 10 was amazing, but he had 9 catches for 175 yards and that’s absolutely intentional. Cumbie saw something and new that Price would have an advantage in some form or fashion was terrific.
  • And I’ve already mentioned Cumbie’s acumen in seeing mismatches and the two touchdowns by Erik Ezukanma were absolutely intentional as well, 4 for 54 and 2 touchdowns where he absolutely abused the defensive back.
  • Special teams were not a disaster today. An Adrian Frey punt return for 39 yards? Where have you been all of my life. Trey Wolff had 6 kickoffs and 5 were for touchbacks. Austin McNamara averaged 48 yards a punt. Garibay went 2 for 2 on field goals.
  • The defense is significantly better when Reggie Pearson plays. Don’t ask me to explain it, but it’s true.
  • The defense had 5 tackles for a loss, Colin Schooler, Krishon Merriweather, Rayshad Williams, Jaylon Hutchings, and Tony Bradford, Jr. all had tackles for a loss with Hutchings and Bradford sharing a sack.
  • Adding Smith as a rushing threat was a boon. Smith had 14 carries for 50 yards, to go along with Tahj Brooks with 9 for 80 carries, SaRodorick Thompson going 9 for 45, and some good Ezukanma runs that totaled 32 yards, ended up with 207 yards and 2 touchdowns on 34 carries for 6.1 yards a carry.
  • In the post-game press conference Cumbie and Smith confirmed the reason why Smith went to the sideline every play was because Iowa State is pretty good at stealing signs.

8. Converting. Can’t really remember a time when Texas Tech converted third downs the way that Smith converted third downs yesterday. As a team, they converted 8 of 14 and this felt so familiar. It felt like Patrick Mahomes, who would convert third downs that just didn’t seem likely. And it should be noted that one of the other wins for the defense was only allowing Iowa State to convert 5 of 10 third downs, 4 of them came in the 4th quarter in 5 attempts, which means that for 3 quarters, the Cyclones only converted 1 of 5.

9. Coach Quotes. Sonny Cumbie:

“You know I had a long time to collect my thoughts after this one. And all I really want to say is there’s not a greater feeling in the world as a coach to see your players have success on that stage and see your players have that type of success in offense, defense, and special teams for four quarters, and that’s what our jobs are all about. I told those kids three weeks ago they were going to get every single ounce of energy that we have as coaches, they are going to have every single ounce of energy that we have in practice, and they got that tonight, and they gave us that notch, and they did it over and over and over again. I think they believe they took a big step tonight. We talked about breaking the mentality; when negative things happen, what do you do? In this game, our defense, our special teams, and our offense rose up. They rose up time and time again. This game is about players, it’s about players and us pouring into them, and they did that tonight, and they had a great night. You can’t be any more excited and proud of a group of kids than those players that we have in the locker room right now.”

Cumbie on Garibay’s kick (love that last part about throwing the spear):

“I didn’t talk to him. I told coach Tommerdahl, listen, I’ve been on offense as the offensive coordinator for however long we’ve been going through this season. A couple of weeks ago, you know, the roles changed a little bit, and I said I’m not going to screw up special teams; all I’m going to do is coach the scout teams. I can get them to read a card, I can get them to run fast, and I can holler at them. So, the rest of the special teams he’s got. I asked him before that kick, when Iowa State called that time out to try to set up the return. I said, Tommerdhal, what are the chances on this thing? He said less than 50 coach, but we’ve got to throw the spear, so we did.

Cumbie on Donovan Smith:

“You know it’s not bad for a third-string quarterback. I had a lot of confidence in Donovan Smith. I have a lot of confidence in Behren Morton, Tyler Shough, Parker McNeil, and Henry Colombi. All those guys. Maverick McIvor. I believe in every quarterback we have in our room. It’s my job whenever their time is called to have them prepared, to have them ready to make the most of that opportunity, and then ultimately, they do it. Donovan Smith is a talented kid from the moment he set foot on that field. Today in pregame when we walked the field, he had a look in his eye of determination. You see him throughout the course of the season, every role we have given him, he’s done what with it? He has been successful. He has gotten better and better, and he has practiced that way, and now it is a challenge to do it again next week. You know, I knew defensively they were going to have a hard time with him just because of the type of talent he has throwing the ball and running the ball and extending plays. What more can you say? That defense was top 15 in the country in stop rate, something like that. The second half, they got us a little bit, but a great performance by all of our guys, and Donovan Smith led that.

Cumbie also said after the game, that wasn’t part of the quotes prepared by the athletic department. He said that they talked about three things this past week: belief; effort; and fundamentals. Cumbie also said that he preached that he wanted to attack victory and play with emotion. That’s exactly what the team did.

10. Players of the Game

Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: I’m going with Smith and Price here. Not sure how you choose between the two of them. They were both fantastic.

Swiss Army Do-It-All Defender of the Game: Going with Colin Schooler here, 6 tackles, 1 TFL and an interception. Very solid game.

Player Finding His Way: Dadrion Taylor-Demerson is getting so good and looks so athletic this year. One interception should have been two, but 5 tackles with a pick is enough for me.

Road Grader of the Game: Want to give this to Hutchings and Bradford for being part of a defense that held ISU to less than 100 yards rushing.

Eraser of the Game: Reggie Pearson was really good, 7 tackles, 2 pass break-ups.

Lighting a Fire: Tahj Brooks being shot out of a cannon a couple of times, one of them was a touchdown was a ton of fun to watch.


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