Texas Tech-UNM Thoughts, Game Balls

Texas Tech needed a more complete game from all three sides of the ball with the showdown with No. 5 Texas next up. They got pretty close to that on Saturday night, but there is still plenty to work on.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Anyone can tell you that a head football coach is never "completely" satisfied with a performance by his team in a win. It's their job to find the holes in their team and improve each week of the season.

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said he was "excited about the second win. We didn't play as good as I think we could have … we could have run the ball a little better.

"That was pretty much a team win right there because special teams really stepped up for us. I mean that was as good as I have seen a special team group play in a long time. Running back punts, blocking kicks, running back kickoff returns — it was excellent. We needed that."

Tech running back and kickoff returner Eric Stephens stole the show early with his vision on kickoff returns, setting up one of Tech's three touchdowns in the first 10 minutes of the game with a 93-yard kickoff return as Tech (2-0) rolled New Mexico, 52-17.

The guy Tech quarterback Taylor Potts calls "Lil Bitty" racked up 264 all-purpose yards for the Red Raiders and scored a 3-yard rushing touchdown after fellow running back Aaron Crawford blocked New Mexico's punt on its first possession.

It was 21-0 and the Tech offense had ran only seven plays.

"That's awesome," said Potts, who finished 22 of 34 for 293 yards and three touchdowns. "That's a lot of fun. That gets a lot of excitement going on the sideline. … That's a credit to the defense and special teams. If it was that easy every time, it's an easy day at the office. Our job was easy going a few yards at a time."

Crawford broke loose again in the third quarter on special teams along with linebacker Jonathan Brydon, who blocked his first punt of the season to set up Baron Batch's second touchdown from the 1-yard line.

Defensively, Tech was once again forcing turnovers with two interceptions by Will Ford and Jarvis Phillips, as well as a fumble recovery. That's six forced turnovers by the Red Raiders through two games, an aspect Ford said the team has been focused on since the spring.

GAME BALLS

OFFENSE — Taylor Potts

The senior quarterback once again did not have any gaudy numbers to make fans or critics say, "Wow!" But Potts was also precise and smart with the football, dialing the Abilene Connection twice to Lyle Leong to push Tech ahead in the second quarter. He led Tech on a 13-play, 64-yard drive, converting two third downs and one fourth down that would have resulted in Tech's fourth touchdown in the first 17 minutes of the game, but Baron Batch fumbled on the goal line for the first of Tech's two turnovers. He also probably needs to say thank you to New Mexico's Joe Stoner for dropping a for sure pick-6 in the third quarter.

DEFENSE — The Defense

It really was a total team effort on this side of the ball. Brian Duncan collected his fourth sack and had two tackles-for-loss while Bront Bird led the unit with nine total tackles. Overall, Tech tallied four sacks, seven tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. The halftime adjustment of switching out of the man coverage worked perfectly, holding the Lobos to just 157 yards and no points in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS — Eric Stephens

I think "Lil Bitty" would gladly share this award with Jonathan Brydon and Aaron Crawford for their blocked punts, but Stephens was absolutely everywhere on the field Saturday night. Tech's single-season kick return leader almost had his first kickoff return for touchdown on a 93-yarder cut short by New Mexico's A.J. Butler. After two games, Stephens has 421 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. He gives the offense the perfect change-of-pace running it needs and makes it easier to score with his long returns. But he still says he will get the three kick return TDs he said he wanted before the season started.

WELCOME BACK

Wide receivers Austin Zouzalik and Alex Torres both got playing time on Saturday catching a few balls along the way to tune up their game speed before No. 5 Texas (2-0) comes to town on Saturday. But nothing said a better "welcome back" than the way Zouzalik announced it in Albuquerque on Saturday. The sophomore receiver took a quick screen out of the slot on the fourth play of the game and ran 55 yards down the sideline to give Tech its first score. It would be his only catch of the day but he also got to return all punts, though only two got to him. Torres caught two balls on back-to-back plays near the sideline for seven yards.

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