Texas Tech football: Hidden moments in victory over SFA

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Sep 11, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive tackle Devin Drew (90) attempts to block a pass from Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks quarterback Trae Self (1) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday’s game against Florida International can’t come fast enough for the Texas Tech football team and its fans.  That’s because all who love the Red Raiders are ready to put last week’s near upset by Stephen F. Austin in the rearview mirror.

But that’s a game that none of us should forget because it taught us some invaluable lessons.  First of all, it was a reminder that few teams can give the ball away four times and still hope to dominate an opponent.

Second, the 28-22 Red Raider win helped us all learn not to take an FCS opponent for granted.  Though many of us should have learned that lesson a year ago when Houston Baptist nearly upset Tech in the season opener.

Additionally, the near-disaster was a reminder that this program has yet to fully turn the corner under Matt Wells.  There was hope amongst the fan base that Tech had taken a step forward as a program after week one’s impressive 38-21 win over Houston but it now feels as if Wells and Co. are closer to square one than they are to relevance.

So despite the fact that we all want to put the woeful showing against SFA six feet in the dirt, it’s worth looking back on it one more time by examining some hidden moments that had a profound impact.  And we will start with a coaching decision that came back to bite the Lumberjacks.

SFA passes up 1st quarter FG

Though this game didn’t go according to script, the first drive certainly did as Tech scored on a 75-yard TD reception by Erik Ezukanma to take a 7-0.  Perhaps that’s why SFA head coach Colby Carthel started chasing points on his team’s first drive of the night.

Playing as if he believed his team would have to put up 40 points to win the game, Carthel was extremely aggressive on his team’s opening possession.  In fact, on that drive alone, he went for it three times on 4th down.

But that plan eventually backfired on him.  That’s because, on 4th-and-4 at the Tech 12, SFA was turned away when Red Raider corner DaMarcus Fields swatted away a prayer of a pass from SFA QB Trae Self.

On the play, the snap was low forcing Self to pick the ball off of his shoetops and that is never what a QB wants to do because it forces him to take his eyes off of his receivers.  Additionally, both Colin Schooler and Brandon Randle were in the backfield to force Self to let go a leaping heave of a pass that had little chance of being successful.

It’s safe to say that Carthel probably wants that call back because not taking three points in that instance proved to be critical.  Remember that Tech won the game just 28-22.  So if Carthel had put three points on the board on his opening drive, his team would have needed just a field goal to tie the game on its final possession of the night.

But instead, SFA found itself in a position to have to get into the endzone on their last drive and they were ultimately unable to do so.  So the decision to give up points for the sake of being aggressive backfired on Carthel and that proved to be perhaps the most pivotal decision of the game by either coach.

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