Ten Takeaways From Texas Tech’s Victory Over Sam Houston State


On Saturday afternoon, Texas Tech was able to power through early team jitters and come away with a victory over one of the Southland Conference’s best programs in Sam Houston State.

A season-opening victory over an FCS opponent by a Power Five program normally isn’t something that would be considered remarkable. However, memories of Texas Tech’s glaring struggles last year against Central Arkansas lingered in the background for many fans clad in scarlet and black.

Texas Tech’s victory wasn’t perfect by any means, and at times it was outright cringe-worthy when concerning the offensive line’s inability to create a push for the Red Raiders’ running backs — arguably their deepest and most talented position group. More concerning was David Gibbs’ new-look defense, which struggled mightily against the Bearkats in the first half of the game. The defensive front failed to pressure the Bearkats’ quarterbacks early on, and as a whole the defense often seemed unable to tackle in space.

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Defensive maladies aside, the Texas Tech signal caller seemed to pick up right where he left off in 2014. Sophomore Patrick Mahomes II was tabbed as the starting quarterback over Davis Webb, who also saw limited playing time in the game. Mahomes’ threw 33 completions on 53 attempts for 425-yards passing, with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. The sophomore also showcased his dual-threat ability racking up 48-yards on the ground. In each of his four touchdown passes Mahomes took advantage of the weak Sam Houston State secondary, including a momentum-swinging 64-yard bomb to wideout Devin Lauderdale.

Offensively, the receiving corps as a whole seemed to be far more reliable than at times in the previous season. Seniors Jakeem Grant and Devin Lauderdale were especially effective; with the former nabbing 6 receptions for 71- yards and a kick-off returned for touchdown, while the latter hauled in 8 receptions on 150- yards for 2 touchdowns. Sure-handed Ian Sadler was especially effective in space, managing to accumulate 73-yards on 5 receptions and a pair of touchdowns as well.

The Texas Tech running attack seemed to be missing in action for the majority of the game, however, stand-out running back DeAndre Washington still averaged 5.7 yards-per-carry. The lack of a successful ground game could be attributed to the overall game plan against Sam Houston State, which sought to take advantage of favorable match ups against the Bearkat secondary. However, when the running attack was employed it often seemed to struggle behind an offensive line unable to create any kind of push against the Bearkat defensive front.

While not completely surprising, Texas Tech’s new-look defense struggled in the first half, especially against the Bearkat ground game. The unit shored up in the second half, accounting for four turnovers and shutting out Sam Houston State’s offense in the third quarter before regressing and allowing a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. While the box score certainly could have looked better for the Texas Tech defense, the more alarming issue concerns the inability of Texas Tech’s defensive personnel to properly wrap-up and tackle opposing players.

There were certain instances on Saturday afternoon where Texas Tech seemed to have done little to progress past the 4-8 record of 2014. The offense as a whole seemed better, but the jury seems to still be out when it concerns the defense. The next two games against run-happy UT- El Paso and Arkansas may provide much more clarity for the Red Raider faithful as to whether or not Texas Tech has addressed the issue of struggling against an opponents running attack. Furthermore, the a full-strength defense may perform significantly better with Pete Robertson and Nigel Bethel II returning to Texas Tech’s starting lineup in subsequent games after being held out due to suspension and injury.

Ten Points From Sam Houston State at Texas Tech:

  1. Patrick Mahomes II- The dual-threat quarterback was given the starting position over Davis Webb. Mahomes wasted little time showing what he could do when leading the offense, marching Texas Tech down the field to score on its first drive and remaining poised throughout the game.
  2. Tackling- This seems to be a topic of conversation that pops up nearly every season since 2008, but the complete lack of proper tackling being practiced by the Texas Tech defense has become ridiculous. The inability of Tech’s defense to properly tackle made the difference between Sam Houston State’s ball-carriers being limited to short gains and bursting though for large gains. This needs to be fully addressed prior to Texas Tech’s games against ground and pound UTEP, and Arkansas.
  3. Jakeem Grant — “The Dream” may have had a regrettable season in 2014, but has so far looked every bit explosive and dangerous in space as he has ever had.
  4. Play calling — A balanced offense may have been expected against Sam Houston State, however the game plan seemed to exploit the Bearkat’s weak secondary and call for a pass-heavy playbook on Saturday.
  5. Defense — Even though it was the first game of a long season the Texas Tech defensive line left a lot to be desired. The defensive line never seemed to consistently pressure and attack the Bearkat offensive line, nor were they able to disrupt the Bearkat quarterbacks prior to the second half. However, the possible reintroduction of Pete Robertson and Nigel Bethel II may help the defense shore up some of the early season deficiencies moving forward.
  6. Offensive Line — The Texas Tech game plan may have placed an emphasis on the aerial attack in this game, but another reason for a lackluster running attack may have been due to a struggling offensive line. The Tech line struggled in creating running lanes and were often pushed around by the Sam Houston State defensive line.
  7. Underrated — Mahomes’ placement as the starting quarterback will hopefully provide some finality to “quarterback controversy” discussion that dominated the headlines heading into the season.
  8. Overrated — Having 2:00 p.m. kickoffs in Texas, in September. The networks really need to consider fan comfort in deciding time slots, because our readers spoke, and the conditions were painfully uncomfortable.
  9. Game Ball — Patrick Mahomes II: the young signal caller remained poised throughout the game and provided a much needed confidence in his position.
  10. Final thought — Penalties and dropped passes seemed to hinder the offense at times, albeit not nearly as much as they did against Central Arkansas last year. However, poor defensive tackling and the inability of Texas Tech to put the game away by the third quarter are more alarming moving forward. But Texas Tech will have a chance to rebound defensively and improve overall when UTEP visits Jones AT&T Stadium September, 12th at 2:00 p.m.

Next: Texas Tech Football: Why Fans' Departure at the Half was Disappointing