All cylinders were firing for the Red Raider offense in their 38-21 victory over Houston last Saturday. Tyler Shough had an impressive debut, Tahj Brooks looked outstanding, and Erik Ezukanma looked elite as ever.
It was certainly a tale of two halves as Texas Tech really got rolling in the second half. Barely any mistakes were made as the Red Raiders outscored the Cougars 31-0.
With Texas Tech at 1-0 on the season, here are some of my performances grades from the game.
Tyler Shough didn’t wow anyone in his debut. However, he certainly looked impressive. Shough didn’t throw a single bad pass all game, completing 17 passes for 231 yards and one touchdown. His rushing touchdown wasn’t too bad either, breaking multiple tackles en route to the end zone.
He looked poised, sharp, and confident as he led the Red Raiders down the field time and time again for scoring drives. Inconsistency at the quarterback position was a weakness of Texas Tech’s last season. The same consistency questions were put on Shough as well. Those questions can now be put to rest. For the first time in a few years, Red Raider fans no longer have to worry about shaky quarterback play.
Wide Receivers: A
The only wide receiver that really made an impact was Erik Ezukanma, who certainly made his presence felt. Ezukanma was Shough’s favorite target, catching seven passes for 179 yards. He made big play after big play and looked elite while doing it. If these are the types of performances we’re going to get from him this season, he has a good chance at becoming an All-American.
Kaylor Geiger, Trey Cleveland, and Dalton Rigdon were the only other receivers that recorded any stats. The three combined for five catches and 21 yards. All three are good but just didn’t have the chance to make any big plays as Ezukanma did. Overall, it was a solid night for the receiving core.
Running backs: A+
Similar to the wide receivers, there was one guy carrying the load. That guy was Tahj Brooks, who handled the bulk of the carries in SaRodrick Thompson’s absence. Brooks scored twice in the game, rushing for 134 yards while doing it. His first touchdown run was especially impressive, catching a great burst of speed straight up the middle. That wasn’t the only big run he got, scoring a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to ice the game.
A quick reminder — Brooks is Texas Tech’s backup running back. Imagine how good the running game will be once Thompson comes back.
Xavier White didn’t really get a chance to shine, only getting four yards on four carries. Although, he did get a touchdown on his only reception of the night. It will be interesting to see how many reps both him and Brooks gets once Thompson returns.
Offensive Line: D
Giving up three sacks isn’t ideal, and it’s why the offensive line is getting such a low grade. I’m specifically talking about tackle Caleb Rogers, who routinely let Houston’s pass rushers blow by him. This resulted in Shough being under constant duress in the pocket.
He’s young, so he has time to develop more and get better. But if he’s going to remain a starter, he can’t do what he did last Saturday. The same goes for the rest of the offensive line. From the way Shough played, Tech can’t afford to lose him. He needs to be protected better.
Tight Ends: B+
Travis Koontz caught four passes for 28 yards against Houston. He had a solid game all-around, picking up good blocks and good gains on catches. Texas Tech runs a lot of 11 personnel, meaning we’ll see a lot of Koontz this season. True freshman Mason Tharp might see some time as well. Koontz has proven himself to be a reliable piece of the offense, which will be a good thing going forward.
Offensive Coaching: A
Coaches can get grades too. For the past two years, Red Raider fans have been treated to a simple-minded gameplan, highlighted by an endless amount of screens. Now, Tech no longer has to worry about that. Enter Sonny Cumbie, a coordinator who actually brings gameplans with substance to the table. His playcalling was on point for the entire game and he did a good job of taking advantage of Shough’s strengths. Playcalling has been an issue for Tech in recent years. It’s refreshing to know that might no longer be the case.