A Red Raiders week 2 win over the Lumberjacks came with surprisingly high drama. The 28-22 victory pushed Texas Tech to a 2-0 mark for the 2021 season. However, Matt Wells’ team showed that there are plenty of areas where this team needs improvement.
Another Slow Start
Texas Tech needed to show strides in the passing game against SFA. And the opening drive provided just that with a quick 75-yard touchdown strike courtesy of the explosive Erik Ezukanma. But after that, the offense went ice cold, with the passing game basically non-existent for the rest of the game outside of another reception by Ezukanam that was over 50 yards. Texas Tech would not score again until the start of the 2nd half. For as sharp as quarterback Tyler Shough looked against Houston, he was the polar opposite in this game. He never found a rhythm in this one, and it is still very apparent that outside of Ezukanma, Texas Tech does not have a clear-cut number two wide receiver the offense can operate through.
Turnovers Almost Turned Into A Loss
SFA answered Tech’s first score with a pick-six. SFA was able to generate pressure on Shough all game, resulting in multiple turnovers. The turnovers were mainly due to a lack of execution from Texas Tech and not necessarily because the Lumberjacks were out-scheming them on defense.
Defense Could Not Get Off The Field
The swarming and fast Texas Tech defense that everyone saw in Houston last week must have not made it back to Lubbock this week. SFA went five-for-eight on fourth down conversions. Lumberjack wide receivers ran open between zones in the secondary all game. The defensive line could not generate constant pressure on the quarterback. The entire defensive unit struggled with tackling all game. Overall, the defense looked very uninspired, even into the 4th quarter when the game hung in the balance.
Rushing Attack Provides Needed Spark
In the second half, the Red Raiders came out with a critical answer. Tahj Brooks, who struggled in the first half with only ten yards, hit a seam up the middle and sprinted to a 67-yard touchdown that put the Red Raiders up 14-13. Tech appeared they would lean heavier on the rushing attack in the 2nd half, as Brooks would get a 2nd rushing touchdown to push the lead up to 21-13. However, the offense never took control of the game to put it out of reach.
The Red Raiders Week 2 Win…Was Still A Win
This performance by Texas Tech was pedestrian. It gave a very clear look what the “floor” looks like for this team. In the span of two weeks, Red Raider fans have seen how wide the gap is between the floor and the ceiling. But the idea that SFA would be down 28-22, and have the ball first-and-goal from the Texas Tech eight-yard line with 1:32 left in the game was something that no one would have foreseen (outside of the Lumberjack faithful). And as ugly as the game was, to include multiple opportunities for the Red Raiders to put the game away, it still was a win. It is hard not to draw parallels to the 2020 home opener to Houston Baptist in which Tech needed to survive against an FCS opponent to earn a victory. But this gives the Red Raiders a plethora of things to work on for practice before Florida International comes to Lubbock on Sept. 18. How this team responds next week could be a critical point in this season.
Main Photo courtesy AP Photo/Brad Tollefson