Some days you are the hammer and some days you are the nail. On Saturday, the Texas Tech football team was the former against West Virginia and that was refreshing for fans all across Raiderland.
Tech’s 48-10 blowout win over Neal Brown’s Mountaineers was certainly a rare occurrence for this program when facing Big 12 teams not named Kansas. In fact, the last time Tech beat a conference foe other than Kansas by 30 points or more was in 2015 when the Red Raiders stomped Iowa State 66-31 in Lubbock.
After the game, starting quarterback Behren Morton reflected on his first career start in Lubbock, where he was born and where he spent a significant portion of his upbringing.
"“A surreal moment, you know, getting to play at the Jones for the first time with the best fans in the country,” he said, “it was really cool. That is going to be a moment I am going to cherish for a long time, and it was just really cool to be out there, finally playing at the Jones.”"
What might have been most surreal for Texas Tech fans was to see a homegrown talent leading this program to a win that was reminiscent of the glory days of the era when Tech would actually run conference opponents out of the Jones on a regular basis. So let’s go inside this win and hand out some imaginary game balls.
The entire Red Raider secondary deserves a game ball for Saturday’s performance. That’s because that group completely blanketed a fairly dangerous Mountaineer receiving corps.
It all started by keeping the talented Bryce Ford-Wheaton in check. Yes, the junior did have a touchdown reception in the third quarter. However, he didn’t take over the game the way he’s capable of as he would finish with just 5 catches for 53 yards. Meanwhile, no other Mountaineer pass catcher would surpass the 50-yard mark.
Tech has had solid play from its defensive backs all year but what set this performance apart was the fact that when they got their hands on the ball on Saturday, they hung onto it. In all, Tech would end the game with three interceptions after coming into the afternoon with just two on the season.
Dadrion Taylor-Demerson’s pick at the end of the first half was perhaps the key play of the game. Preserving a two-score lead for Tech entering halftime, it snuffed out one of the few times in the game when the Mountaineers had some meaningful momentum on their side.
Meanwhile, the interceptions by Rayshad Williams and Malik Dunlap were especially impressive in that both required the defender to make plays on the ball and fight for the pick. Tech was the beneficiary of those standout plays and perhaps we’ll see more of that from the secondary as we move forward.
Also, don’t overlook the play of Marquis “Muddy” Waters. Leading the team with seven tackles, all solo, he made three stops behind the line and was constantly a force for the Red Raiders, especially on all the wide receiver screens that Graham Harrell and the Mountaineers attempted to run. All-in-all, it was a fantastic day for the Red Raider secondary and all four of the players mentioned here deserve game balls.