Observations - Stephen F. Austin

Scott Fitzgerald delivers his observations from the Red Raiders home opener victory.

First and foremost, the total game presentation from start to finish was first class. Facility upgrades are an investment and Texas Tech made a very good decision on how they wanted to implement their new jumbotron, and not just replace the last one. This is going to be a very valuable tool for both the video operations crews as well as the folks from Learfield Sports, as they try to generate revenue. Tip of the cap to Kirby Hocutt and all of the folks who made that project possible.

As for the game, this was kind of two games in one, the first half and the second half. With TCU looming on Thursday, it was important for the starters to get their work in early and not get anyone hurt in the process. Mission accomplished for the most part.

Game Ball – Offense: Bradley Marquez. The Odessa product made some electrifying plays on Saturday night. Two catches for 94 yards and a score, but it was his blocking that stood out to me. By my count, he sprung 4 different plays, maybe more, for over 10 yards on the right side edge.

2nd Half MVP: Quentin White. The redshirt freshman showed some great moves and tough inside running getting his first carries as a Red Raider. I know it was versus SFA, but that performance could be enough to merit some more meaningful snaps if the running game doesn't improve.

Game Ball – Defense: Micah Awe. It's a tough call on defense because the starters only played a half. Awe was around the football most of the night and led the way with 8 tackles and a TFL for a defense that made eight tackles for loss and forced some really bad throws on key situations.

2nd half MVP: Andre Ross. The junior college transfer took advantage of his opportunity in the second half and had 4 tackles. Again, it was against SFA, but I thought he moved well in traffic and played his assignments while SFA was trying to run down the clock.

Honorable Mention: Jace Amaro (8 catches, 142 yards and a TD.) Kerry Hyder (4 tackles and an early TFL.) Carlos Thompson (108 total return yards in 3 different returns)

Best play: Baker Mayfield's 34 yard pass to Bradley Marquez. On 3rd and 11, Mayfield had Marquez in single coverage. At the snap, Mayfield looked off the defensive back by checking some other reads. Then, Mayfield fires a strike to Marquez to move the chains and set up the second touchdown of the night.

Participation: 10 true freshmen played last night for the Red Raiders. In addition to quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb, D.J. Polite-Bray, Carlos Thompson, Dylan Cantrell, Baylen Brown, Zach Barnes, Malik Jenkins, Dee Paul and Tanner Jacobson all worked their way into the fold for Texas Tech. Jenkins and Jacobson played special teams each of the last two weeks, and Cantrell and Polite-Bray each played in the first half receiver rotation. This coaching staff is making it clear. Age is not a factor when it comes to getting reps on the field.

Injuries: Beau Carpenter and Jordan Davis (in addition to Brewer) were the only players in the two deep that did not play because of injury. Hopefully, Carpenter being held out was precautionary, as Coach Kingsbury said on Monday that he had suffered a sprained ankle. Davis' injury would seem a little more concerning, as it's classified as a hamstring, which tends to linger a bit longer. That might explain Dylan Cantrell playing early.

Concerns: For the second week, offensive line remains the top concern. This opponent  was not as talented as SMU on the defensive line, but Texas Tech was unable to dominate up front again. Deandre Washington and Kenny Williams averaged just over 4.7 yards per carry. Weber State averaged just under 4.5 yards against the same defense a week ago. The return of Beau Carpenter to the lineup, sooner rather than later will help, but it's also worth noting that paving the way for Quentin White's performance was an interior second string OL of Baylen Brown and Matt Wilson. Those guys could have earned a longer look with their performance.

In all a great night for the Red Raiders, but there's no time to celebrate. The TCU Horned Frogs are here on Thursday night. This game, as early as it is could factor into bowl game decisions and Texas Tech is going to have to be ready.  

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