Remember how this game was supposed to be the anti-Big 12 shootout? The over was surpassed before halftime. But in the second half, the Texas Tech ground game really made any comeback effort by Houston impossible. On a day that was filled with lots of emotion as the Red Raiders posthumously elected former head coach Mike Leach into their hall of fame, head coach Joey McGuire got a much-needed win. Texas Tech takes down Houston by a score of 49-28
Smith or Newton?
Both defensive coordinators, Doug Belk for Houston and Tim DeRuyter for Texas Tech would not like to remember the first half of this game. The first half only had one punt attempted by either team. That punt happened to be one of two special teams touchdowns for the Red Raiders as it was blocked and returned for a score in the 2nd quarter. Texas Tech only possessed the ball three times in the first half but converted all of those into touchdowns. The story of the first half was Houston quarterback Donovan Smith. He was unstoppable in the first half as he was 19-for-24 passing for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Smith also made big plays with his legs to keep drives alive with five carries for 39 yards.
Punters Finally Got Work in the Second Half
After the first half, there were concerns about either defense making adjustments. Texas Tech came into this game knowing they needed to make the game plan easier for Behren Morton. He was making his first start of the season after Tyler Shough suffered a broken fibula against West Virginia. Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley had heard from the media all week about getting running back Tahj Brooks more involved in the offense.
Not only has Brooks established himself as the best playmaker on this Red Raider offense, but an established Texas Tech ground game would alleviate pressure on a quarterback often described as a “gunslinger.” It turns out that the rushing attack gave Morton a chance to shine at pivotal moments in the game. Morton only attempted 22 passes in the game because of the success of the ground game. He completed 14 of them for 161 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he did not have any turnovers.
Texas Tech Ground Game Took Over
Kittley absolutely fed Brooks today. He finished the game with 22 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. One of the most impressive parts of his game today was the ability to turn multiple runs from a loss of two yards into a gain of two to three yards. It allowed the offense to always be in an advantageous play-calling position. Kittley did not have to worry about picking up big chunks of yards to move the chains. However, Brooks wasn’t the only running back who had a good day.
Cam’Ron Valdez had only five rushes but finished the game with 106 yards as well and one touchdown. As the Texas Tech ground game took over, the defense also stepped up. They pitched a second-half shutout as Houston only had one drive in the second half to get past the Texas Tech 48-yard line. Smith took his Cam Newton cape off at halftime and it must have stayed in the Cougars locker room. He was not nearly as accurate (10-for-18 for only 71 yards) as Houston could never regain the momentum they had in the first half.
What’s Next for the Red Raiders
This Texas Tech ground game needs to continue to show up in a big way for the Red Raiders to have sustained success for the rest of the season. A loss on Saturday would have put this season on life-support. But the question is, can Texas Tech stack wins on top of each other in conference play? The Red Raiders travel to Waco in a rivalry showdown in which Baylor no longer looks like the “BU-TT” of the conference after their thrilling come-from-behind-victory over UCF.