Texas Tech goes to 4-0 after disposing of Texas State on Saturday, after reviewing the tape, there are definitely things Texas Tech can work on in the off week before rattling off eight straight weeks of Big XII opponents.
Game Ball – Defense: Will Smith. The senior MLB was a candidate for Big XII Defensive Player of the Week, and with 8 tackles, a TFL and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, Smith turned in his best performance as a Red Raider. Smith's athleticism has been leaned on in both blitzes and coverage and we are seeing a more complete version of the player we saw in the spring of 2012.
Honorable Mention: Pete Robertson. His best football is ahead of him.
Game Ball – Offense: Jace Amaro. I'm probably overly critical of Amaro because he's the best pro prospect on the team. But Amaro has improved his catch totals in each game this season. The best part about Amaro is that all he cares about is whether his team wins. He doesn't care who scores, who gets the catch, etc. And when he makes a catch or scores, he hands the ball to the official and gets right back to work. Amaro's 9 catches for 86 yards again was a season high and 4 of his 9 catches moved the chains for a first down. The best play of the night, of course, was the block he had on Derreck Edwards' 46 yard catch in the 3rd quarter. In the early 2000s, there was a weekly award handed out to the player with the best hit called the Hammerhead Hit of the Week. I'd bring it back for hits like that.
Honorable Mention: Quentin White. Don't look at his yardage, look at his average. 8.1 yards per carry is double what either of the starters have done all year. If the problems with the OL persist, then White is going to merit a longer look.
Biggest play: 3 first half turnovers by the Texas Tech defense. Robertson's INT was huge, as was Bruce Jones' forced fumble on a corner blitz. Smith's TD gave Tech the breathing room they needed when the offense was figuring things out. While Tech didn't get points off of the first two turnovers, both set the tone for the rest of the game.
Top 3 concerns
OL – Alfredo Morales was carted off the field and it didn't look good. Beau Carpenter was seen in the stands, but Coach Kingsbury said Carpenter would return this week. Either way, it's looking more and more like the line will be without another key cog in the line when October starts. If Alfredo Morales can't go, and Carpenter can, Carpenter can play either guard position. There are pluses and minuses to both. If he plays LG, that could solidify the left side of the line and keep everyone else in the position they have played the last several weeks. If he returns to RG, that could help Fortenberry at right tackle and space out the two best offenseive linemen. It's still not a good situation.
Run game – Call it 1B, but the two go hand in hand. I sound like a broken record. Quentin White got some first quarter reps against Texas State, and with his production, in my opinion deserves more of a look.
QB – Either freshman is going to make his share of mistakes. I think Mayfield's mistakes are more forcing throws and making reads too quickly before he tucks and runs with the football. I see Webb making the inexperienced throws that he could get away with in high school, but not college. That said, some of the throws he is making, neither Mayfield nor Michael Brewer can make. Speaking of Brewer, the door is open for him to reclaim the job if and when he gets healthy, as neither freshmen has done enough to claim the job the last two weeks.
This bye week comes at a good time for the Red Raiders. At 4-0, this team and this staff can regroup and address concerns heading into conference play. With two of the weaker teams in the Big XII the first two weeks of October, Texas Tech has a good chance to apply these things they work on before the meat of the schedule starts. It's going to be fun, that's for sure.
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