Texas Tech Falls To North Carolina State

It’s over, as in the honeymoon phase. Joey McGuire loses his first game as Texas Tech head coach. The Red Raiders took on a tough and talented opponent in front of a rocking crowd in Raleigh. This game tonight served as a good reality check for where the Texas Tech program currently stands. Texas Tech falls short despite a solid effort from the defense. A 27-14 defeat is nothing anyone should feel embarrassed by. But just like all couples who transition into the next phase of the relationship, Tech fans need to recalibrate their expectations.

Texas Tech Falls To North Carolina State

Failed Protection

Coming into this game, the Red Raiders were looking to get back on the plus side of the turnover margin. Giving the 16th-ranked team in the nation extra possessions were never going to be a recipe for success. Texas Tech failed to make any strides as they turned the ball over four times against the Wolfpack. This also included a critical pick-six thrown towards the end of the second quarter. That allowed NC State to push the lead to 20-0. In totality, the Texas Tech offense struggled from the opening kickoff to the end of the game. The offensive line continues to be a weakness for this team. NC State produced ten quarterback hurries, seven tackles for loss, and four sacks.

Quarterback Donovan Smith had pedestrian numbers in this one. He would finish 21-of-36 passing for 214 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. How different would have the game gone if the very first offensive play went differently? Texas Tech opened the game by taking a shot down the field that Smith overthrew by about half a step. Trey Cleveland appeared to make a nice diving catch that would have resulted in over a 50-yard gain. But the review showed Cleveland dropping the ball before securing the catch. Instead of having a chance to instantly take the crowd out of the game, the Red Raiders proceeded to go three-and-out. Smith’s best highlight came in the way of throwing a terrific lead block. for SaRodorick Thompson.

Texas Tech Falls Despite Another Tough Defensive Showing

The Red Raiders did just about all they could, but in the end, Texas Tech falls short. How good was the Texas Tech defense? They only surrendered 20 points and kept NC State to 270 yards of total offense. Texas Tech also had seven tackles for loss and two sacks, both of which were by Tyree Wilson. Wilson had a stellar game, finishing with a total of 11 tackles. The Wolfpack had the ball for nearly eight more minutes than Texas Tech, despite running eight fewer plays.

The defensive effort all season has been tremendous. McGuire and his staff have stressed the “Take Three” mantra for his defensive unit. “Take Three” represents the goal of the defense to earn at least three turnovers a game. And while they did finally force a turnover in this game, the Red Raiders are a combined minus-six in the turnover margin in the last two games. The offense certainly has played a major role in that. But the defense has not done a great job of creating them. If this defense is going to truly elevate to one of the best in the conference, they need to take the ball away more.

More Morton On The Horizon?

Late in the fourth quarter, Texas Tech fans got another taste of Behren Morton. He had a few throws that showed off his arm strength, but ultimately, there was not a major impact. Morton finished throwing for 85 yards on 4-of-7 passing and one interception that ended any chances of a late-game comeback. It ended up not making any difference in the game. Texas Tech falls on hard times for the first time this season. While the offensive line struggles are the number one issue facing this team, the next closest issue is the lack of true playmakers on the outside. Three players had at least four receptions, but no one had more than fifty yards receiving.

At no point did any receiver make a play that really turn the momentum. None of the receiving corps appeared as they could separate from the DB. The wide receivers are big-bodied targets that haven’t found the propensity to make explosive plays. Thompson might be approaching the career rushing touchdown top of the leaderboard, but he doesn’t have breakaway speed. It could simply be the offense trying to get more comfortable in Zach Kittley’s scheme.

But right now, the offense is not clicking on the offensive side of the ball. Texas Tech also does not have any time to take a breath with Texas coming to town next week. Texas Tech was not going to be going undefeated this year, but Red Raider nation had fun just living in the unbridled hope under McGuire. It is done though, it is time for this relationship to evolve to the next step. And no better time to shed dead skin and revitalize with a rivalry game next week.