Numerous themes may emerge from any football game, some more obvious than others. And one fact that is emerging about the Texas Tech football team is the validation of something Tommy Tuberville said to the Versus broadcast crew. According to Paul Burmeister, Tuberville said that the 2011 Red Raiders are not a great football team, but that they have the potential to be great, and that that potential did not exist with last year's team.
The reality is that the Red Raiders are improving quickly and are already a formidable team. Indeed, they looked better against the Lobos in Albuquerque than the nationally ranked Arkansas Razorbacks did against those same Lobos in Little Rock, Arkansas. There is reason to be excited about this iteration of Red Raider football.
Real Deal Doege: Seth Doege is no longer flying under anybody's radar screen. Prior to his dumbfounding performance against the Lobos, Doege was an unknown quantity to the national media and fans. Because of successive injuries in high school, he was a bit of a forgotten recruit and was nowhere near as high profile as, let's say, Texas' Garrett Gilbert. But when you break an NCAA record for accuracy by hitting over 90% of your passes in only your third collegiate start, folks will start to take note. If Doege can continue at this torrid clip, and if he can author a signature win, people will begin talking about Doege as a postseason award candidate.
Harking Back to Harrell: The 2011 season is only two games in and I'm already taking Doege's accuracy for granted. Over the last six quarters of play, Doege has made completing passes look so effortless and routine. His precision and his decision-making are robotic. The last time Red Raider fans witnessed this sort of quarterback mastery was with Graham Harrell in his senior season.
One Concern Kaput: Coming into this season my chief concern about Doege was interceptions. During workouts he sometimes exhibited what I considered to be questionable judgment and poor downfield vision, and this resulted in an untoward number of picks. Well through two games Doege has thrown no interceptions, and only one ball that should have been pilfered. Granted, he hasn't exactly been throwing against the likes of Oklahoma and Alabama, but the absence of interceptions is still a good sign.
Line of the Day: When referring to New Mexico kicker James Aho (pronounced AY-hoe), Versus color commentator Shaun King said, "I just feel uncomfortable saying that guy's name."
Good Trends: Through two games the Red Raiders have committed only seven penalties and given up only two sacks. And they have dropped only one pass—that by DeAndre Washington against Texas State. Early days yet, but still…
Defense a Work in Progress: Chad Glasgow's charges are making progress, but there's still tons of work to be done, which one would expect for such an incredibly young group. At issue right now is the ease with which receivers have been able to get behind the Tech secondary, the sporadic quality of Tech's pass rush, and occasional susceptibility to the running game between the tackles. The Red Raiders aren't allowing many points yet, but that will change when the competition steps up in class unless Glasgow and company successfully address those issues.
To some extent, the solution to the problems is determining which players are capable of doing what. Eugene Neboh, for instance, may be Tech's best cover guy, and if so, he doesn't need to leave the field. Is Sam Eguavoen really a better option than Cqulin Hubert at this moment? He blew a couple of coverages against New Mexico. And what about the defensive tackles? Donald Langley has not been terribly productive thus far. One wonders if freshman Delvon Simmons might not already be ready to start.
Surprising Speed: Cody Davis had problems in coverage against the Lobos, but showed real speed chasing down the fleet Deon Long after he got behind Davis on a fly pattern and looked on his way to six. On the other side of the equation, Darrin Moore almost got caught from behind by a New Mexico linebacker on his 56-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and had real difficulty shaking Lobo corner Devonta Tabbanah all afternoon. The freshman DB reportedly runs a 4.41 forty.
Welcome to the Game, Ward! Darrin Moore had his second straight game with more than 100 yards receiving, but it was Eric Ward who most caught my eye among Tech's wideouts. He had eight grabs for 87 yards and caught two touchdown passes. Moreover, several of those catches were very difficult. This is the sort of productivity Neal Brown needs on the opposite side of the field from Moore.
Distribution and Balance: Fourteen different receivers caught passes against the Lobos. The Red Raiders threw the ball 50 times and ran it 35. Something tells me Neal Brown will take those numbers any day of the week.