Texas Tech hasn’t been known for playing big time opponents in their season opening games for quite a while now. In the past week, the WreckEmRed.com staff has gone through just about every scenario that could have happened when the Red Raiders squared off against the Bears on Saturday night but none of us predicted this close of a game.
Really, you could see the lackadaisical attitude of this game right out of the gates. Despite a record breaking attendance for a season opener, in which 60,778 were in attendance, the Red Raiders just simply looked flat.
A pair of interceptions in the first half had Tech limping into halftime ahead 21-16 against what should have been an over matched FCS Bears squad. JUCO defensive tackle transfer Rika Levi, who’s 6-foot-3, 350-pound frame was supposed to help the Red Raiders stuff the run this year went down just a few plays into his Tech career with an apparent knee injury and never returned to play.
Levi’s withdrawal was felt as the Bears ended up rushing for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Going into this game, most fans knew that we wouldn’t really get a whole lot out of this match up due to the mismatch of the two teams, but what does such a disappointing and uninspiring win give us?
Despite all of the negatives from a defensive line that barely got pressure on the opposing quarterback, to a linebacker corps that did an average job of stopping the run, there were a few positives to take from this game.
First, Tevin Madison was very impressive in his college debut and really was the only true bright spot on the defensive side of the ball last night. In addition to Madison’s performance, Bradley Marquez proved that he is at least one half of the production replacement from Jace Amaro’s departure to the NFL and Eric Ward’s graduation. Jakeem Grant looked good before injuring his ankle and sitting out a good bit of the game. Marquez finished the game with 11 receptions for 184 receiving yards and two touchdowns. That’s one of the best receiving performances we’ve seen since Michael Crabtree was hauling in receptions in 2007 and 2008.
After a game that Kingsbury called “embarrassing”, the Red Raiders have a lot of work to do. Probably the most work of any Tech team I’ve seen in a season opener in nearly a decade. From turnovers, to penalties, to a lack of general energy on defense, Texas Tech has got to improve and improve fast to get a hold on the 2014 season. The team will travel to El Paso to take on the UTEP Miners at 10 p.m. C.T. UTEP beat New Mexico 31-24 and rushed for 330 yards, a scary thing to think about for Tech’s linebackers and defensive line.
I’m sure Kingsbury and Co. will be attempting to fix many of the obvious mistakes that were made apparent last night during practices this week, lets hope they can whip things into shape come Saturday at 10 p.m.
Another troubling sign for the Red Raiders was in the penalties department. Tech racked up 15 penalties for 113 yards, a familiar theme from 2013 when the Red Raiders ranked dead last in the Big 12 in penalty yards per game. Its safe to say that if head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team gets anywhere near the 100 yards per game in penalties mark in Big 12 play (or even against Arkansas in two weeks), they won’t be winning many games.
Tech went -2 in turnover margin last night after Webb threw two interceptions and the defense couldn’t come up with a turnover all game long. This was an area that Kingsbury stressed needed improvement from last year, but there was no improvement to be found in Lubbock against the Bears.