Photo CC: bleacherrreport.com
Let’s jump right into what was learned from the Oklahoma State game –
Erik Ezukanma had the staple game of his career and is now the clear leader of the receiving corps. With OSU’s Tyson Wallace getting all the hype going into last weekend, there is no question that Ezukanma is now alongside Wallace for an All-Big12 selection. The sophomore had 187 yards, 2 TD’s on 7 receptions, which is a career-high (728 for the year).
The OSU game was as a coming out party for Ezukanma, and it’s clear the football world was watching –
Whoever is under center next year should be all smiles with Ezukanma to throw to. Not to mention a stronger offensive line, with many starters returning. Not a bad gig with the right signal-caller. Remember, Colombi and Bowman have 5 years of eligibility between them. Keep that in mind as the offseason rolls around and another recruiting class comes in. Bowman may have the helm now, but he will have to compete again to keep it.
The 133 yards on 17 carries and 2 touchdowns from SO SaRodorick Thompson demonstrates he’s ready to lead the backfield moving forward into Kansas this week and into the 2021 season. Having SO Xavier White return from injury and FR Taj Brooks continuing to develop, along with Thompson and a strong offensive line, 2021 could be strong from the running back position. For Kansas, expect the rushing numbers to continue.
The Mixed Bag of Good & Bad
Keith Patterson’s defense has shown some significant progression over the season. The number of 3rd down stops has increased, giving the Tech offense better field position and opportunities. But the performance of third-string running back Dezmon Jackson and his 235-yard contribution to OSU’s 317 total rushing tells a different story.
With the Cowboys missing their All-American running back in Chuba Hubbard, back up L.D. Brown, and with question marks regarding Spencer Sanders going into the game, Tech should have had more advantages to work with. No matter how you see it, a third-stringer running like that is unacceptable. The progress Patterson is making on the defensive side is obvious, but with one of the worst third-down offenses in the conference, your job never gets any easier.
SR TJ Vasher has been the odd man out this year, which continued versus Oklahoma State. He’s been listed as a starter on the depth chart throughout the season, yet has played very sparingly. The preseason saw Vasher encounter academic issues that were resolved right as the season began. While academics may not be the concern now, clearly Wells is not playing him much for a reason. Whatever that reason is, it must be significant with the limited time he’s seen the field.
With Vasher being a senior, he has the option to return next year and use an extra year of eligibility provided by the NCAA due to the pandemic. And with covid, so comes the possibility of the transfer portal. Never rule that out, especially this year.
The disappointment of Vasher and the progress of Ezukanma makes you wonder what that duo could have looked like without the chaos of a pandemic. As a coach myself, the logical result I come to is Vasher continues to be in the Wells doghouse. Unfortunately, this “doghouse” has lasted an entire season. Whatever the reasons, Vasher’s performance is a disappointment.
Looking at Vasher’s stats, the lack of use is clear –
Eli Howard is done for the season –
A preseason All-Big 12 first-team selection, Eli Howard is one of the top rushers in the conference. He did not play against the Cowboys. Hoping for a speedy recovery, Eli! Look for Tyree Wilson and Te’o Troy to get more reps vs Kansas in replacement of Howard.
The onsides kick was not the “bring out all the stops” anyone expected. Wells’ surprise choice to kick onsides midway through the third quarter ended disastrously, with Oklahoma State’s Jason Taylor picking up the kick and returning it 48 yards for an uncontested touchdown.
Looking at the kick, it seems more like OSU’s return team knew the kick was coming. Upon OSU’s Taylor fielding the kick, Texas Tech SR-DB Ja’Marcus Ingram overran him, prematurely expecting the ball to go farther. The more you watch the kick, the more you scratch your head and wonder how prepared the players were to execute the onsides call.
Oh yes, let’s talk about third downs. Anyone else got third-down deja-vu? You should have because third downs have been a problem all year. Versus OSU was not any different, with the Red Raiders going 4 of 16. To better explain, let’s review third downs game by game –
Houston Baptist (7-15)
Kansas State (9-18)
Iowa State (0-10)
West Virginia (4-16)
Oklahoma State (4-16)
So, that’s 32% on third downs for the season. Think Yost will be back? Five games with five or fewer third-down conversions is not going to snag too many jobs or keep any either. The numbers speak for themselves. The more I look at Tech’s 3rd down stats, the uglier they appear.
The Oklahoma State loss only reinforced the things we already know. First, bad offensive play calling continues. Second, the defense continued to make key stops against the Cowboys, but still haven’t fully taken that next step. Third, changes are looming.
So, Kansas get any worse? Wells knows closing out the season strong is a must. How do you see the Red Raiders closing out in 2020? Let us know!
Agree? Disagree? Comment below and make sure to follow @GUNSUPNATION for all your latest Texas Tech Sports news!