Numerous themes may emerge from any football game, some more obvious than others. And following a dreadful start that saw Texas Tech fall behind a weak-kneed Kansas team 20-0, it was obvious that the Red Raiders were in serious trouble. Tech was dangerously close to falling behind by four touchdowns, a deficit almost impossible to overcome in the game of football, losing the game, and possibly control of their season.
And lest you think that is hyperbole, consider that Kansas is thought by general consensus to be easily the worst team in the Big 12. If the Jayhawks not only beat the Red Raiders but blew them out, it would have been difficult to see from whence Tech's wins would come during the remainder of the season.
Fortunately the Red Raiders were able to flip the switch just in the nick of time. DeAndre Washington capped off a 52-yard drive late in the first quarter with a one-yard touchdown run and it was pretty much all Tech from that point on. But if the offense had not come through on that critical drive, this game, and Tech's season, could have spun completely out of control.
The Linebacker Switch: Texas Tech's defense has often looked inept over the course of the last dozen years or so, but seldom has it looked worse than in the first quarter against Kansas. The Jayhawks were toying with the Tech defense like a tiger with an asthmatic sloth. And Tech's true freshman linebackers, Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen, were suffering especial abuse.
Chad Glasgow, in desperation, replaced Dees and Eguavoen with Cqulin Hubert and Daniel Cobb and the Red Raider defense was transformed. Running lanes suddenly got much narrower, horrendous tackling became less so, and tight ends ceased running free through the Tech secondary.
That is not to say that Tech's defense became the Monsters of the Midway, but the improvement was still dramatic. Tech gave up touchdown drives of 41, 75 and 75 yards on Kansas' first three possessions and allowed only two touchdown drives of 62 and 45 yards the remainder of the game. The Red Raiders could never have managed the turnaround without Cobb and Hubert.
Kickoff Travails: One key to Tech's outstanding special teams performance a week ago against Nevada was Donnie Carona's deep and high kickoffs. Unfortunately, he failed to reprise that effort against Kansas. Carona's kickoffs fell well short of the goal line, and he knocked one out of bounds, setting up the Jayhawks at the 40-yard line.
Unsung Hero Award: Cornelius Douglas' day got off to a poor start when he was flagged for holding on Tech's first kickoff return of the afternoon. From that point on, however, he did a little bit of everything good. Douglas caught four passes for 98 yards, registered four tackles and one forced fumble on special teams, and laid a crushing block that helped spring Eric Ward for a long touchdown reception. He was the ultimate utility man.
Pass Rushers Please Apply: The Red Raiders rushed four against the Jayhawks, seldom blitzed, and got almost no pressure on KU quarterback Jordan Webb. Tech's lone sack came on a delayed blitz by Cqulin Hubert. Now the rush did improve somewhat when Leon Mackey was in the game, but was still mighty anemic. The Jayhawks are a good pass protecting offense, but the Red Raiders still need to do much better here. Perhaps the return of Scott Smith next week will provide a boost.
Signature Seth: This was Seth Doege's worst game of the season. He was less accurate than usual and failed to see the defender when he threw the first interception of his Red Raider career.
But Doege's worst is better than some quarterbacks' best. And Doege's best play in his worst game was the 13-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Franks for Tech's third touchdown of the game.
As is becoming his hallmark, Doege moved beautifully in the pocket to buy time, made as if to scramble, but then, just before reaching the line of scrimmage, lofted a nice pass into the end zone which Franks snatched from the Kansas air. Doege showed the poise and general football awareness on this play that are necessary to be a great quarterback.
Offensive Line Flip-Flop: For the first time this season the right side of Tech's offensive line played better than the left side. LaAdrian Waddle struggled with Toben Opurum early and Lonnie Edwards had issues as well, while Deveric Gallington and Terry McDaniel excelled, particularly in run blocking. I'm beginning to think McDaniel needs to be in the starting lineup permanently, one way or the other.
Risking Eric: I question the wisdom of feeding the ball to Eric Stephens six times on Tech's final drive of the game. The Red Raiders already had the game in the bag and didn't need to pick up first downs. And Kansas' defense, knowing that Stephens was getting the pill, teed off on him. He was a human punching bag and the risk of injury was real.