Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson must be more efficient on the ground
Playing at night, on the road, in a nationally-televised game against a top-20 opponent is going to be one of the toughest tasks yet for QB Donovan Smith. Remember, he’s just a redshirt sophomore with less than a half-season worth of experience under his belt.
Thus, it would behoove Tech to have a strong rushing attack on Saturday night. But thus far in 2022, the Red Raider ground game has been less than dominant. That’s why both Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson both need to take their play to a new level this week.
Of course, some of this running game’s lack of efficiency falls at the feet of the offensive line, which has to consistently open lanes for the ball carriers to run through. But we know after two weeks that this year’s line is far from dominant meaning that the running backs might have to make something happen on their own.
We saw that take place in week one when Brooks and Thompson both found the endzone on plays that required them to break multiple tackles (Thompson did so on a short pass that he turned into a 30-yard TD but the point remains the same). They might have to do more of that this week against an excellent NC State linebacking corps.
As a team, Tech is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry on the season. Now, some of that is because of the large number of sacks that Smith took against Houston as sacks count against a team’s rushing total.
Still, Brooks and Thompson combined to average just 3.4 yards per rush against Houston, a team that Tech believed it could run the ball against. What’s more, Smith was Tech’s leading rusher in terms of gross yardage (though when the sacks were taken out of his rushing total, he fell far behind Brooks).
This week, look to see if Brooks and Thompson can make life easier on Smith by being efficient in the rushing game and keeping Tech in front of the chains. However, they may have to take matters into their own hands and make defenders miss if this Red Raider offensive line can’t open up some holes in the defense.