Texas Tech Football 2017 Rewatch: Running Backs Dominate In Blowout of Kansas

LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 7: Running back Desmond Nisby #32 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders runs for a 47-yard touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 7: Running back Desmond Nisby #32 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders runs for a 47-yard touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium on October 7, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

In the fifth game of the 2017 season, Texas Tech traveled to Kansas where the Red Raiders had their way against the worst team in the Big 12.

Going on the road to play the worst team in your conference just one week after failing to pull of a potentially season-changing upset could be a recipe for a trap game.  But in 2017, the Kansas Jayhawks were not close to being good enough to trap anyone.

A week after a seven-point home loss to No. 14 Oklahoma State, Texas Tech went to Lawrence Kansas and had its way with the Jayhawks in a 65-19 win.  The story of this game was the difference in the running attacks for each team.

After running for just 54 yards as a team against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech gashed Kansas for 313 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.  Justin Stockton led the way with a huge 161-yard day on just 15 carries.  He was complimented by Desmond Nisby who ran for 93 yards on 11 carries while finding the end zone four times.

Conversely, the Red Raider defense shut down Kansas running back Khalil Herbert who had just 65 yards on 10 carries.  Herbert was coming off a 291-yard performance the previous week against West Virginia and he expected to have another big day against Texas Tech. But Herbert, who had 45 of his 65 yards on one carry, was a non-factor as the Red Raiders keyed on him and took the KU ground game out of the equation.

This win put Texas Tech at 4-1 for the season and would prove to be the last stress-free game of the season.  Tech would lose its next four games on the schedule and had we known such a losing streak was imminent, we likely would have enjoyed this blowout more than we did as we watched it live.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

The most aggravating aspect of this game for both teams was the nine booth-initiated replay reviews that stopped the game for over 30 real-time minutes.  Six of those reviews came in the first quarter and seven in the first half including a run of three reviews in a five-play span.

When the game was stopped for review at the 12:15 mark of the second quarter, FOX Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereria noted that the other games around the nation that started at the same time had already reached half time.

It is important to get critical calls right but six reviews in one quarter and nine in a game is excessive and the reviews robbed this game of any momentum.

Defense Comes Up Big On 4th Down

The Texas Tech defense turned the tide of this game with two huge 4th-and-1 stops on the  first two KU drives.  Tech scored on the game’s first drive but in response KU drove to the Tech 45 before giving the ball to Herbert and 4th down.  Herbert was stuffed at the line and Tech took over with great field position.

Tech would score again  on the ensuing drive to go up 14-0.  KU moved back to the Tech 42 but Herbert was again denied giving the ball back to the Red Raiders near mid-field. Tech would score on its third drive to go ahead 21-0 and put the game virtually out of reach before the end of the first quarter.

McLane Carter Plays 4th Quarter

As McLane Carter battles to win the 2018 QB job, it was interesting to look back at his two 4th quarter drives against the Jayhawks.  Overall, Carter went 3-3 for 57 yards and a touchdown.  He also carried the ball four times for 14 yards.

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Carter’s TD pass was a nice 32-yard strike to Derrick Willies on a skinny post to the middle of the field.  Willies was well-covered on the play but Carter put the ball right on target allowing Willies to come down with the ball in stride and shake the defender.

Carter also completed a short screen pass and hit inside receiver JoJo Robinson for a nice gain on a bootleg pass.  The takeaway from these throws was that all three were delivered on time and in rhythm.  He displayed a nice sense of knowing exactly what he wanted to do with the ball and he got the ball to his receivers with accuracy.  Still, all of his passes were over the middle of the field where his below-average arm strength can be masked.

It was also interesting to see how Kingsbury used Carter in the run game.  With the game out of reach, Kingsbury took the air out of the ball and had Carter run a number of zone read options.  Carter’s athleticism was obvious as he was able to run for a 12-yard gain on a zone read keep.  He is certainly no threat to break a long run for a TD but he can keep the chains moving with his legs if needed.

Kicking Game Nightmare Begins

Because this game was a blowout, none of us cared much about the disastrous performance of the Texas Tech kicking game as we watched live.  But it was a harbinger of what was soon to cost the Red Raiders games.

Tech sent three kickoffs out-of-bounds, had a punt blocked (its second of the season) and missed an extra point attempt.  Clayton Hatifled was not available for this game and the other Texas Tech kickers struggled.

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At the time, these struggles seemed insignificant but in one week’s time, the kicking game would ultimately cost the Red Raiders a huge Big 12 road game.