Looking at the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter, it would be hard not to think that Kliff Kingsbury was embracing a more defensive style of play. The first quarter, which ended with Texas Tech leading Eastern Washington 7-0, featured a fumble recovery by the Red Raiders and multiple punts by two teams that combined for over 14,000 yards of offense last season.
The Tech defense, which looked solid against Eastern Washington, came up with stops throughout the game and were too much for their physically outmatched FCS opponent to handle. Texas Tech’s offense took longer to get going.
With new starting QB Nic Shimonek under center, it eventually did get going. Penalties and pressure on Shimonek stalled the offense early, but deep ball TD throws to Keke Coutee and Derrick Willies in the second quarter provided a spark that seemed to get the offense into a rhythm that would allow Tech to overwhelm EWU.
Kingsbury’s new signal caller was an efficient 26-of-30 in his initial outing, methodically marching his squad down the field in a fashion somewhat different from his predecessor, who took his talents to the NFL.
Late in the second quarter, Eastern Washington seemed to be on the verge of turning the game into a shootout when EWU wide receiver Terrence Grady caught a Gage Gubrud pass over the middle and stretched the ball over the goal line to get the TD.
That play would end up being the only one for the Eagles, as Texas Tech went on to dominate the rest of the game. Gubrud would find some success in between the 20s, but pressure from the Tech D-line and miscommunication with his receivers all made for a lackluster performance for the returning starter.
The defense continued to give Tech fans reason for optimism throughout the game, with defensive back Willie Sykes stepping in front of an ill-advised Gubrud pass to take it to the house near the end of the third quarter.
With Texas Tech up 49-10 and the game well in hand, Shimonek dawned a baseball cap so backups McClane Carter and Jett Duffey could get some time under center.
Carter exhibited nice ball placement on a TD throw in the fourth quarter, during which backups on both teams got some time. The 56-10 score would remain unchanged throughout a mostly uneventful final quarter that featured an athletic interception by defensive lineman Tony Jones, who stopped his rush off the edge to leap into the air and get the pick.
|3rd Down Eff||6-15||5-10|
|4th Down Eff||1-2||0-2|
|Yards Per Pass||6.1||12.8|
|Yards Per Rush||2.3||4.4|
|EWU – G. Gubrud||22/34||207||6.1||1||1||—|
|TTU – N. Shimonek||26/30||384||12.8||3||0||95.1|
|EWU – S. McPherson||13||57||4.4||0||23|
|TTU – D. Nisby||6||57||9.5||0||20|
|EWU – T. Grady||8||93||11.6||1||28|
|TTU – D. Willies||4||126||31.5||1||75|
Emptying The Notebook
Kingsbury made a noticeable attempt to run the ball more, something that looks to be a feature of the 2017 Red Raiders. Tech actually finished the day with more rushing attempts than passes and fans were introduced to new faces in the backfield to go along with returners Demarcus Felton and multi-year starter Justin Stockton, who had two touchdowns on the day.
Making his Division I debut in Lubbock was running back David Nisby, a JUCO signee who flashed his capacity for power running as he rolled through multiple EWU defenders and ended the day with 9.5 yards per carry.
Sloppiness via penalties often slowed the Kingsbury’s squad down. At one point early in the third quarter, a referee called a false start penalty on “everyone but the snapper,” a bit of comedy which actually speaks to some of the struggles of the offensive line throughout the day.
Familiar names like Jah’Shawn Johnson and Jordyn Brooks led the team with seven tackles a piece, while Dakota Allen looked solid in his first game back in a Texas Tech uniform after having spent a year at East Mississippi Community College.
This photo, wow.
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 3, 2017