A Game That Should Never Have Been Played: In the post-game press conference I asked Kliff Kingsbury what benefits his team derives from playing an opponent that is burnt toast in the second quarter. He responded by saying that beyond getting some experience for younger players, benefits were nugatory. It sounded like an admission of sorts that playing creampuffs such as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State and Indiana State is pointless.
And I wholeheartedly agree.
Tech's wholly predictable laugher over the Lumberjacks was farcical. The game was little more than a glorified scrimmage. Outside of providing a surefire mark in the win column and getting reps for backups, this game was meaningless. Tech's starters, and arguably its backups too, were simply not challenged. They face better competition and improve more in practice than they do by playing weak FCS "competition."
And honestly, these games are a rip-off for the fans, particularly those who want to purchase season tickets. The people who help foot the bill for FBS football only get to see their teams play at home six or seven times per year. They should be treated to only compelling competition, not snoozefests that are over before they begin. This does not mean Tech or any other team must schedule a gauntlet of Oregon, Alabama and LSU. Nobody is expecting a team to commit suicide. But there are plenty of lesser FBS teams out there—SMU, for instance—that can at least provide some suspense and tension. Those are the teams that belong on the non-conference schedule.
The Red Raiders have probable patsy Central Arkansas on the schedule next season. Let us hope that Kirby Hocutt and Kliff Kingsbury terminate the risible practice of scheduling such opponents in 2014.
Whither Goest the Pass Rush? The Red Raiders didn't blitz a huge amount against SMU, yet still generated a withering pass rush. Against SFA, however, Tech routinely rushed five and six players, yet didn't record a single quarterback hurry, let alone a sack. The Lumberjacks were doubtless in max protect mode some of the time, but the lack of pressure by Tech is still a concern. This may not be much of an issue against TCU where containing Trevone Boykin within the pocket will be paramount, but against several other teams on Tech's schedule, an inconsistent (or nonexistent) pass rush could prove fatal.
Fade to Nothing: The fade route was the ultimate staple of Mike Leach's Tech spread. Interesting that through two games in Kliff Kingsbury's tenure we haven't seen a single fade. It is possible Kingsbury doesn't think Tech has the personnel to run this play effectively. More likely, Kingsbury just doesn't like the fade.
Gadget Trouble: The Tech defense's complete breakdown that allowed SFA to score a 75-yard touchdown on a reverse pass means the defense will be tested in this area again in the future. That play is on film now, and every offensive coordinator Tech sees will be tempted to probe the Red Raiders with a homerun ball on some sort of backfield legerdemain.
Two-Back Sets: Tech ran a ton of two-back where Kenny Williams and Deandre Washington crossed on routes out of the backfield and ran intermediate go routes. Baker Mayfield rarely looked Williams and Washington's way on these plays, but they were frequently open. Sometimes the freshman gets a bit greedy for the deep strike.
Fly Guy: I don't recall a Tech quarterback who throws a prettier fly than Baker Mayfield. If the receiver is well covered, Mayfield keeps the ball away from the defender, which is one reason he has yet to throw a pick. But if the receiver has a step, you can bet Mayfield will lay it in there like a newborn baby in mama's arms.
The Weapon We Expected: Everybody thought Jace Amaro would be a difficult matchup and that's sure proving to be true. Against SFA, Amaro consistently used his speed to get behind the Lumberjacks' zone drops, and with that huge frame, it's hard for Mayfield to miss him. After the performance against SFA, you can bet the Horned Frogs will overemphasize getting good depth on linebacker drops. Perhaps the Red Raiders will burn TCU by dragging Jakeem Grant across the field when Amaro runs the intermediate post.
Tempo Tempered: The Red Raiders ran 84 offensive plays against SFA, which is about what Kingsbury expects. But despite that good number it really didn't seem like Tech's offense ever got in rhythm or that the Red Raiders ran up tempo for lengthy stretches. SFA's substitution patterns, which sometimes included bringing in 11 new defensive players, may have had something to do with that.
Tommy Gun: No offense to Bradley Marquez, who is a solid return man, but with Carlos Thompson's display against SFA, you've got to think he will team up with Jakeem Grant to give the Red Raiders two extremely potent threats on kickoff returns. It'll be the classic choice of strychnine or arsenic for the opposition.
About Quinton Time? Through two games, DeAndre Washington and Kenny Williams have done nothing inspirational with their carries. Quinton White, on the other hand, ran like a special back against SFA. I thought White looked better than Washington and Williams in summer scrimmages, and White strongly confirmed that impression against the Lumberjacks. I hope he gets some carries when the Frogs come to town.