Winning Lousy

The Red Raiders didn't bring their A game today. They didn't bring their B game. They may not have even brought their C game. But despite playing quite possibly their worst game of the year, the Red Raiders physically dominated and gained victory over a solid Big 12 opponent. How were the Red Raiders ugly? Let me count the ways.

The Red Raiders didn't bring their A game today. They didn't bring their B game. They may not have even brought their C game. But despite playing quite possibly their worst game of the year, the Red Raiders physically dominated and gained victory over a solid Big 12 opponent.

How were the Red Raiders ugly? Let me count the ways.

First, there was the debacle on special teams. The Red Raiders allowed a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Ryan Bustin missed a chip shot field goal. A punt glanced off a Tech blocker and was recovered by Iowa State. Sadale Foster muffed a punt. Tech punt returners fielded punts they should have let bounce and let punts bonce they should have fair caught.

Second was the proverbial turnover battle. Tech's offense and special teams coughed up the rock three times and the defense garnered nary a pilfer. One Sam Richardson pass hit Micah Awe squarely in the breadbasket, but he couldn't squeeze the brown. For the season, Tech is now on the minus side when it comes to turnovers.

Third, Tech's receivers had a pretty good day, but Jace Amaro dropped a pass, and so did Jakeem Grant. Then there was David Webb, who missed wide open Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez for what would have been touchdowns on fly routes.

And the Red Raider defense, which was outstanding in many ways, did not fare well when placed in tough spots. Following the turnover on a punt return, Iowa State marched 33 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Then, in the fourth stanza, following Davis Webb's interception, the Cyclones required only two snaps to get the ball into the end zone. In these sorts of situations, a great defense will hold the opponent to field goal attempts. The Red Raiders failed on both occasions.

And yet, despite all of these errors and faults, Texas Tech outgained Iowa State 666 yards to 311. Tech had 36 first downs to ISU's 18. The Red Raiders averaged 6.6 yards per offensive play to Iowa States four. Three Tech ball-carriers gained at least 80 yards and two Red Raider receivers totaled at least 90 receiving yards.

Truthfully, Tech won this game up front. Rarely have the Red Raiders dominated a Big 12 opponent on both sides of the line of scrimmage as thoroughly as they did the Cyclones.

On the defensive side of things, Kerry Hyder absolutely put on a show. Today Hyder made it absolutely clear that he is Tech's best interior defensive lineman since Gabe Rivera. And Branden Jackson was almost his equal. The Red Raider front seven spent more time in Iowa State's backfield than did the Cyclone running backs.

Offensively, it was the same deal for the Red Raiders. The Cyclones got a bit of pressure on Davis Webb early, but were then silenced. Granted, ISU often rushed only three, but where Tech was able to pressure Sam Richardson with a three-man front, the Cyclones didn't get to within spitting distance of Webb.

And Tech's tremendous running game stemmed from great blocking. Le'Raven Clark and Jace Amaro were road graders all day long. Many times Tech's backs weren't even touched until they got to the second level. It's been a while since we've seen that sort of run blocking at Tech.

It's great to know the Red Raiders can knock off a respectable opponent when they're nowhere near their top form, but they accomplished this at home. If they experience the same breakdowns on the road in Morgantown, you don't like the odds of their being able to pull it off twice in a row.

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