Numerous themes may emerge from any football game, some more obvious than others. And what may not be readily apparent from Tech's strange 50-10 victory over Texas State is how closely it mirrors the classic style of Red Raider football we've come to expect over the last dozen years. Specifically, Texas Tech has made somewhat of a habit of starting games poorly, only to catch fire and incinerate the opposition.
Classic examples of this phenomenon were Tech's 70-35 win over TCU in 2004, and their 44-41 boomerang job on Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl. In both of those games the Red Raiders looked hopelessly inept in the early going and equally unstoppable once they got in the groove.
Now the Red Raiders never trailed Texas State by 20- and 30- something points as they did the Horned Frogs and the Golden Gophers, but when you look at the quality of the competition, their early 10-0 deficit to the Bobcats was equally dreadful.
But the really striking thing about Tech's turnaround was just how terrifyingly efficient the Red Raider offense was in the second half, and just how much it harked back to the days of yore, despite the fact that the running game figured more heavily than in the past. Tonight it looked like Dr. Frankenbrown flipped the switch on what we used to call the Air Raid.
An Impressive Outcome: There will doubtless be much gnashing of teeth and perhaps even some rending of garments over various aspects of Tech's victory, but the reality is that the Red Raiders last opened a season with a wider margin of victory all the way back in 2005. In that year Tech defeated Florida International 56-3. Personally, I was hoping the Red Raider defense would hold the Bobcats to 14 points or less and that the Tech offense would score more than 45 points. Mission accomplished on both scores.
Brilliant Balance: Texas Tech's offensive productivity was exactly what Red Raider fans have come to expect. How Tech got to their 50 points and 505 total yards is not. The Red Raiders passed the ball 37 times, but also ran it 33. Rarely in recent memory has Tech been that balanced. But regardless of one's feelings about that play distribution, one cannot argue with the outcome. Once Seth Doege, Darrin Moore and Eric Stephens began clicking, they were a machine.
Invidious Imbalance: Lost in all the justifiable hullabaloo over Darrin Moore's dominating 12-catch, 221-receiving yards performance, is the fact that the Red Raiders got scanty production from receivers on the other side of the field. Eric Ward, Tramain Swindall, Austin Zouzalik and Cornelius Douglas combined for six catches for a measly 51 yards. This group did record a pair of touchdown receptions, so that's something, but the Tech offense needs more than eight and a half yards per catch from the receivers opposite Moore. The Red Raiders cannot count on him to catch for 200 every night. Doege will eventually require a good option on the other side of the field.
Smooth Transition: This was D. J. Johnson's first game as a safety after moving from his corner and nickelback role, and it was a rousing success. Johnson, along with Brett Dewhurst, who replaced an injured Cody Davis, was Tech's most impressive defensive back. He was solid in coverage, and was particularly impressive in run support. Johnson's pursuit was excellent and it's easy to see how his presence as a safety really improves Tech's defensive team speed.
Tunnel Vision: A nonagenerian with cataracts, myopia and astigmatism could see how deadly Darrin Moore was on flies and fades. Less spectacularly, but almost as important, Moore runs a mean tunnel screen. Yours truly reported on this fact during spring workouts and it bore fruit against Texas State. It's just one aspect of Moore's game that makes him a complete receiver and effective in different situations on different parts of the field.
No Sweat at Center: As expected based upon his performance in fall workouts, Terry McDaniel had no problem whatsoever with his shotgun snaps despite playing center only three weeks. Less expected was his effectiveness as a blocker. McDaniel was at times dominant in the middle of the line, and he combined with Lonnie Edwards and LaAdrian Waddle to ensure that the left side of the line was an irresistible force. Deveric Gallington and Mickey Okafor occasionally struggled on the right side.
D-Line Noobs: Of the several newcomers on the defensive line, tackle Dennell Wesley and end Kindred Evans showed real potential in limited second-half duty. They will only play more and better as the season progresses.