Texas Tech football: What we learned in week one win over Montana State

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 12: Texas Tech cheerleaders perform at Jones AT
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 12: Texas Tech cheerleaders perform at Jones AT /
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Though it was against an FBS team, the Texas Tech football team’s season-opening victory helped us learn quite a bit about the type of team we should expect to see this fall.

In front of an official crowd of over 54.000 fans, the Matt Wells era of Texas Tech football got off to an impressive start Saturday.  In the 45-10 win over Montana State, Tech played about as well as any team could be expected in the first game under a new coaching staff.

"“There’s some things that we need to clean up,” Wells said after the game.  “but overall a good first start. Good crowd, appreciate the support, everybody coming out…”"

Since we don’t have the trained eye of a football coach, it’s hard for the fans to see what Wells wants to clean up.  That’s because his team dominated every aspect of the game.

Sophomore QB Alan Bowman was 40-53 passing, which put his completion percentage at 75.5%.  That is the fourth-highest of his career when it comes to games that he did not leave early due to injury.

On a related note, Wells, OC David Yost, and receivers coach Joel Filani had to be pleased to see such a broad distribution of the ball.  In all, eleven Red Raiders caught a pass and seven caught four or more.

Interestingly, the deep ball was not a huge weapon for Tech on Saturday.  With Montana State playing a scheme designed to keep its secondary from being beaten deep, the Red Raiders had only three passing plays of 30 yards or more.  But it was still impressive to see Bowman operate within the structure of the offense and take what he was given.  That’s a trait that many young QBs often struggle to develop.

Defensively, Tech finished the game with 8 three-and-outs, including four-consecutive to begin the game.  What’s more, the Bobcats managed just eight first downs, the fewest of any Red Raider opponent in seven years.

Tech gave up just 289 yards, which is actually 107 more than was surrendered to the last FBS punching bag to come to Lubbock, Lamar, which was shut out 77-0 in week two of 2018.  However, in the world of FBS football, Montana State is on par with a program like LSU or Michigan State while Lamar is closer to being the FCS equivalent of Oregon State or Kansas.

Even the special teams were a positive.  Redshirt freshman placekicker Trey Wolff had his first career FG attempt, a 38-yard kick in the third quarter.  Meanwhile, true freshman punter Austin McNamara showed why he was one of the highest-ranked punters in the nation as a recruit by averaging 48.4 yards per kick.  Two of his five punts were downed inside the 20 and his longest punt went for 57 yards.

Considering that the special teams were a tremendous area of concern with Tech having to replace Clayton Hatfield and Dominic Panazzolo, the only teammates in the nation to be named semifinalists for their respective national kicking awards in 2018, the kicking game was being closely monitored by everyone in Jones Stadium.   With the youth and inexperience in that area of the roster, it is no wonder that Tech went to great lengths, especially financially, to bring in Mark Tommerdahl, one of the nation’s most highly-respected special teams coaches and that seems to have been a wise decision.

Certainly, one game against an overmatched FCS team is not going to tell us exactly what we have in the 2019 Red Raider football team.  But it did help us begin to get an idea of where the team is headed and what it could eventually become.  So let’s take a deeper look at what we learned in week one.