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October 1, 2012
The score was right around where I guessed, but the game was not near as close as I thought it would be. This was a must win game for bowl implications and Texas Tech flat out took care of business. Personally, I enjoy following a league where any win is a big win, especially on the road. This was huge win over a good football team, and for the most part, the Red Raiders dominated trench play on both sides of the ball.
While Tech didn't just push around Iowa State per se on offense, the Red Raiders' offensive line severely outplayed the Cyclones' offensive line. You're not going to lose many ball games that way regardless of how your quarterback is playing. In other words, Tommy Tuberville may have quarterback-proofed this team and will be much tougher to beat because of it.
There are a lot of teams in the conference this year that can't afford any hiccups at quarterback. It was refreshing that one of them was not wearing red and black on Saturday. Huge win and Tech out-physicaled a physical football team. If anything, this game proved to me that the Red Raiders are a lot better team than I thought they were. I'm not sure how much better yet, but this was a much more impressive performance than going on the road and struggling with say a Kansas or SMU.
It's good to know early in the season that Tech has the underrated trait of composure. They folded like a cheap tent the last two years when something bad happened against Paul Rhoads right out of the gate. Major props to the coaches and players on this team all the way across the board. They've got some stones.
With Seth Doege and the offensive line struggling early, Neal Brown kept plugging away and dialed up the critical calls when the team needed them the most. The Red Raiders' running game was much more effective than what the stat sheet indicated. After watching the other Big 12 teams, this was arguably the toughest defense remaining on Tech's schedule. Jake Knott and A.J. Klein are more than just good players. They are great players, who will continue to play on Sundays. They will beat some teams by themselves this season.
Eric Ward and Kenny Williams played great games, so this will seem a little odd to most. I'm going with Doege as my offensive MVP despite his poor start and modest stat line. The Doege of last year might have crumpled under the pressure. The defense had his back and, after a disastrous quarter and a half, Doege bounced back to lead Tech to points on four of the team's final five possessions (sans a missed field goal). Good quarterbacks have bad days, but the really good ones make plays when it counts. You certainly can't fault him for that. Both defenses were playing well and the Red Raiders won because their quarterback answered the call and Iowa State's caved under the pressure.
Sometimes Kennilac Williams leaves me scratching my head wondering what Tech's offense would do handing him the ball 25 or 30 times a game with Omar Ontiveros lead blocking and throwing play-action over the top to Javon Bell. I know it would drill Baylor. I was somewhat shocked that ISU out gained the Red Raiders on the ground because it didn't feel that way. Williams is the type of back whose dividends increase with the number of carries and will sooner or later break a big one. Tech actually may want to slow some games down this year and possess the ball, and it's nice to know you've got a tackle-breaking homerun threat to shoulder the load, if need be. He's going to house a couple from 60-plus out this season. Maybe several against the Texas defense.
Ward played a great game but, outside of his game sealing touchdown catch, all of his effort was for naught. Something bad seemed to happen on all the drives where he made big plays and resulted in no points. I'm not knocking his effort, I just found it odd when I re-checked the play-by-play summary. He's as reliable of a chain mover as there is in the league. Nothing but good things happened when Bell, Jakeem Grant or Jace Amaro touched the ball. The Red Raiders have a lot of different ways to put the ball in the end zone when you throw Darrin Moore and Bradley Marquez into the mix.
It was really ugly early as Tech struggled adjusting to the increased speed of conference competition. They settled down and often looked better run blocking than pass blocking. I'm having to write this without the option of re-watching the game, so I'm at a bit of a handicap. However, I recall Le'Raven Clark busting a protection early, but he's physically going to be fine in this league and has proven to be a devastating run blocker at times. Terry McDaniel struggled at times on the edge with the smaller, faster Cyclone ends. LaAdrian Waddle seemed to take some plays off; I don't remember Deveric Gallington or Alfredo Morales doing anything bad. I may change my opinion on this subject after the Big 12 No Huddle replay.
The Red Raiders were one fluke third-down scramble from pitching a shutout on the road. Art Kaufman's unit was phenomenal in all phases, players and coaches. We clearly know what Tech's personnel can and can't do, while being spot on with playcalling.
I've started spreading the word in the blogosphere world about the play of Kerry Hyder. At this point, I've seen all the other Big 12 teams in action and Hyder is playing better than any defensive tackle in the league right now. I'll go so far as to say, at his current level, he is giving Arthur Brown a run for his money for defensive MVP and certainly earned that honor in this game. I'm not even sure dominant does justice in describing his performance against ISU. Go back and watch the second sack. It wasn't your typical busted assignment by an offensive lineman or shoot-a-gap sack. Hyder straight up trucked a Big 12 guard and I haven't seen a more impressive play from any defensive tackle in the country this year. What's next on the menu for Hyder? A rag tag Oklahoma line that struggled blocking UTEP and Road Landry Jones. The Red Raiders will systematically destroy every passing team in this league if Hyder continues to apply tremendous inside pressure.
There wasn't any guy that didn't play lights out on Tech's defensive line and major props to Fred Tate and Robert Prunty. This was a message game by the Red Raiders' defensive front. One place you don't want to be against Texas Tech is in third and long Hyder, Leon Mackey, Dartwan Bush and Pete Robertson on the field. I'm looking at you West Virginia and Baylor. Tech finally faced a team willing to throw the ball and learned that they can actually rush the passer now that they can get to obvious passing downs. Jackson Richards and Delvon Simmons were solid against the run. I've seen complaints up to this point about lack of turnovers, but I wasn't concerned. When you play as well as this group is turnovers come in bunches.
Will Smith played his best game to date and eliminated any threat of Steele Jantz hurting the Red Raiders with his legs. Terrance Bullitt and Zach Winbush had a couple of big plays. I guess I was just as impressed with their coverage as I don't recall them allowing an completions that really hurt.
It's been a long time since I've been as fired up about a play by the Red Raiders' defense as I was on the D.J. Johnson hit and Cornelius Douglas interception. Those are the kind of clutch plays that good secondaries make to seal a game. Steele Jantz was spoken of as a strength entering the game. Forcing 10 of 20 attempts for 73 yards with three picks and one touchdown means you are getting off the field and covering people. I don't even recognize Cody Davis anymore and I mean that in the sincerest form of flattery. I don't remember ISU even throwing at Eugene Neboh.