Texas Tech Football: Week Two Report Card vs. UTEP


Texas Tech defeated the University of Texas–El Paso Miners 69-20 last Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.  The Red Raiders controlled the game on offense, and showed some signs of life on defense, but (in my opinion) underperformed throughout the game.  After Aaron Jones left the game due to injury in the second half, the Red Raiders began playing much better, but there were still too many missed tackles and poor technique being displayed–mostly by the front seven.

Here are the week two grades:

Quarterbacks: B
Mahomes had a good game overall and made some great throws from the pocket and on the run. He amassed nearly 400-yards and six touchdowns and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row. Just as important as his yardage total, was the first downs Pat contributed. In the first half, Mahomes accounted for 12 first downs, passing and rushing. This helped the Red Raiders sustain drives and gave the defense time to rest on the sidelines.

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The biggest problem Mahomes had was that he missed a number of receivers on deep routes who either beat their man, or were the beneficiaries of blown coverages. As Tech gets into the meat of the schedule, they will not be able to beat teams without capitalizing on mistakes. The key to winning football games is punishing your opponent for making mistakes. Teams like Arkansas, TCU, and Baylor will not make too many mistakes, forcing Mahomes to do a better job of hitting his receivers when they are open.

Davis Webb came in late in the game and looked much better than he did against Sam Houston State. His stats suffered from drops, penalties, and having to dump a screen pass (there was a defender in the area –we’re assuming he recognized that and threw it away) early in the fourth quarter. He did hit a few receivers downfield, and made good reads on his read-option touchdowns. With another game under his belt as a backup, Webb looks more like a viable option to come in if needed.

Wide Receivers: B+

The wide receivers did a much better job this week, significantly cutting down on the drops.  They also seemed to block well on the edges, but they were responsible for a handful of penalties as well. Jakeem Grant and Devin Lauderdale had great individual efforts; Grant scored while juking his way to the endzone after being completely encircled by five defenders and going untouched, and Lauderdale broke 5 tackles for his touchdown. Jonathan Giles also had a key block on DeAndre Washington’s touchdown in the second half. There is still room for improvement, but this group has the potential to be special.

Running Backs: B-

The running backs looked good Saturday, adding over 200-yards and two rushing touchdowns to the offensive totals. Justin Stockton used his elite speed on a touchdown from a Mahomes screen pass, and DeAndre Washington broke loose for a rushing touchdown using great vision and elusiveness. Tyler Scalzi also got Webb into the end zone untouched on the read option by blocking very well.

The Red Raider backs are missing a bruising running back though, and will likely continue to struggle in goal line situations. At this point, Kliff’s best option for a goal line run is to give it to the QB on a designed run or an option, so he can utilize the running back as an additional blocker.

Offensive Line: B-
All-Conference tackle Le’Raven Clark continues to be an absolute rock on the offensive line, and Alfredo Morales helps to solidify the left side. Jared Kaster has good technique, but can tend to be overpowered by bigger defensive linemen. The right side of the line needs to see significant improvement if this team is going to get over .500 again. Justin Murphy was blown by on multiple occasions on Saturday, and coach Lee Hays may need to do some shuffling around if this team is going to be successful in conference play. That being said, Murphy has shown good technique when reaching linebackers, and showed great effort getting downfield and escorting Justin Stockton to the endzone on his screen pass touchdown.

Defensive Line: D+
There weren’t very many positives for the Red Raider defensive line on Saturday. Breiden Fehoko had a nice tackle-for-loss, getting past a couple of pulling offensive linemen. Gary Moore and Pete Robertson also flashed on a couple of plays, but that was about it. The interior of the line needs to exhibit better technique, as they had a lot of trouble getting separation and shedding blockers to make the play. They will also need to maintain better gap integrity, which will help the linebackers getting into position to make plays as well.

Linebackers: D+
Aaron Jones had a field day through the first half, mostly due to the linebacking corps (and the secondary) missing tackles. They also were slow to read the play, got lost in the trash on several occasions, and had a very hard time getting off of blockers. Malik Jenkins showed promise at times, but needs more time to develop if he is going to be relied on in the future. Micah Awe showed great awareness by forcing a fumble, but he also missed his share of tackles on the day.

Secondary: D+
There wasn’t too much to be excited about in the Texas Tech secondary. David Gibbs has moved to much more zone coverage, which may help later in the season as Tech faces more spread offenses. However, UTEP receivers were able to either make uncontested catches, or were wide open and were not hit by the UTEP QB’s. For the Tech defense to improve, the coverage needs to be much better. If it isn’t, there may be multiple repeats of last year’s performance against TCU.

Hopefully the Red Raiders have come to similar conclusions on team grades for last week, and are looking to a similar metric to make improvements against the Arkansas Razorbacks this Saturday in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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