Coaches always say the defense should be ahead of the offense very early in the season. However, that is never the case at Texas Tech. But based upon the Red Raiders' 44-6 victory over Northwestern State, it may be the case right now.
Quarterbacks: On Tech's first series of the year Seth Doege missed a wide open Jace Amaro for what would have been a touchdown, and compounded the error by tossing an interception on the very next play. By his own admission, Doege's radar was off kilter in the opener. He must do better. Doege's backup, Michael Brewer, did. With the exception of taking a sack (not entirely his fault), Brewer was just about perfect in fourth-quarter relief duty. He may have earned some more playing time.
Running Backs: Kenny Williams, SaDale Foster and Eric Stephens left some yardage on the field. All were tentative, none decisive. This group averaged 4.2 yards per carry. A battering ram such as Baron Batch would have averaged at least five. To the extent that Williams, Foster and Stephens were called upon to block and catch, they were just fine. Look for Stephens, who fumbled in the game, to improve as he continues to knock off the injury rust.
Receivers: Despite lacking Javon Bell, Darrin Moore and Tyson Williams, this unit was easily the offense's best. Emergency starter Bradley Marquez showed the way with seven receptions for 92 yards, while rangy Marcus Kennard, doing his best Jarrett Hicks impression, hauled in a pair of touchdowns. Jace Amaro showed signs of being a weapon and Jakeem Grant looked dangerous. The longest reception was only 23 yards, but that will happen when a defense drops and covers the way Northwestern State did.
Offensive Line: This group is still very much a work in progress. With the exception of a couple of whiffs by Alfredo Morales and Terry McDaniel, the latter of which resulted in NSU's lone sack, pass protection was decent, but the Demons really didn't bring much heat until the fourth quarter. On running plays, the line got a good surge but didn't create many creases. The line will need to be become more physical. Most of the ground yardage came over LaAdrian Waddle, Alfredo Morales and Beau Carpenter.
Defensive Line: Lights out from the defensive line. Kerry Hyder was the defensive MVP, while ends Jackson Richards, Branden Jackson and Dartwan Bush contained the option. This unit, continuing a theme from fall practice, batted lots of balls at the line. The Demons never established a hint of a ground game, and the defensive line's dominance is the key reason why.
Linebackers: The linebackers were absolutely rock solid. Terrance Bullitt started things off right by plowing through a blocker and stopping a bubble screen for a loss on the game's first play. Will Smith proved to be the steadying influence it was hoped he'd be, while Sam Eguavoen was all over the field and appears vastly improved. The Red Raiders don't lose much when the likes of Blake Dees and Micah Awe step on the field.
Secondary: Cornerbacks Cornelius Douglas and Eugene Neboh were hardly challenged at all. The Demons simply did not throw against them. NSU's only success—and it was minimal—came from crossing routes against the zone in the seam between the linebackers and safeties. D. J. Johnson got a sack on a safety blitz, and Cody Davis had a monster game in the tackling department. An interception from the defensive backs would have been nice.
Special Teams: Ryan Bustin lived up to the reputation he established in spring and fall camps. The longest of his three field goals was only 37 yards, but all would have been good from at least 45. Tech's kickoff coverage looked very shaky. I suspect from here on out Kramer Fyfe will simply boot the ball into the end zone for the 25-yard touchback. Javares McRoy failed to field a couple of punts, and that cost Tech dearly in field position. Enter Austin Zouzalik who solved that problem and contributed a couple of nice returns as well.