Saturday night’s loss to Baylor was a tough one for the fanbase. Not only was it a blown opportunity for Joey McGuire to establish more momentum in a night game but it also came when Red Raider legend Patrick Mahomes was inducted into the ring of honor at halftime.
The 45-17 loss took a lot of wind out of the team’s sails after a great homecoming win over West Virginia. They made a comeback in the third quarter surprisingly thanks to their running game of SaRodorick Thompson and Tahj Brooks but it was not enough to overcome a bad start. Which begs the question: Why wait to be down by three scores before doing something that is successful?
That question has lately been a recurring one fans would like offensive coordinator Zach Kittley to answer. Thompson carried the ball 16 times and rushed for 98 yards while Brooks had 10 carries for 66 yards.
While those statistics for both backs are not very impressive, the running game got Tech back in the game. In fact, Thompson and Brooks each averaged over six yards per carry. For a Big 12 offense known for passing, that is something you can rely on, especially when you have a redshirt freshman quarterback still learning the ropes.
The running game definitely made the difference in the win over the Mountaineers. The team had 239 total yards rushing with Brooks having over 100 yards. That day, Behren Morton also got off to a slow start and it was ultimately discovered after the game he had been sick for the past few days leading up to the game. Thus, Kittley’s reliance heavily on the running game paid off in taking pressure off their young quarterback. In all four of Tech’s wins so far this season, the team rushed for over 100 yards.
During the team’s weekly press conference on Monday, Kittley addressed running the ball more. “We were running the ball really well,” he said. “Again, goes back to me. I should’ve ran the ball more and taken pressure off those guys. So those are some things we are going to try to do moving forward and create some competition this week in practice like we talked about.”
Kittley also said the injuries the team sustained on the offensive line had an impact. Landon Peterson went down early in the game, leaving Jacoby Jackson to play the rest of the Baylor game. According to multiple reports, Peterson is questionable for this week against the Horned Frogs. With the offensive line continuing to struggle, any more major injuries could spell trouble for running the ball successfully down the stretch.
Still, if this offense wants to be successful with Morton at quarterback for this season, Kittley needs to mix in the run more to create a balanced attack. While the Red Raiders are ranked ninth in the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 137.9 yards per game, Thompson and Brooks are arguably the best running back duo in the conference so why not let them carry the ball more? Safe to say a lot of fans would like to see both backs more utilized this week against TCU.