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Recap: Texas Tech Falls Short In The Desert

Things got weird at Arizona as the Red Raiders relied on their defense to keep them in the game while the offense struggled.

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Khalil Tate of the Arizona Wildcats comes up short of the endzone against Texas Tech - Getty Images - Christian Petersen
Getty Images - Christian Petersen

The Red Raider defense held out as long as they could Saturday night, but the offense couldn’t get going enough to pull of the win and Texas Tech fell to Arizona 28-14.

Arizona received the ball to begin the game and the Texas Tech defense came out strong and sent the potent Wildcat’s offense to a three-and-out. Tech started their first offensive series with a false start that seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night.

After an offside call that offset a false start, Alan Bowman threw to TJ Vasher for 13 yards for a first down. It seemed like the Red Raiders were going to get their tempo going and drive the ball down the field. Tech had a third and three before another false start eventually led to a punt.

Both teams would punt one more time before an exchange of turnovers. Khalil Tate of the Wildcats threw the first interception of the game as he overthrew his receiver and Douglas Coleman of Texas Tech was there for the clean up. 

The run game seemed to heat up for Texas Tech as they drove the ball down the field with Armand Shyne leading the charge with 41 yards on the ground before Alan Bowman gave the ball back to Arizona on an interception by Lorenzo Burns in the end zone.

Arizona would go three and out after a sack by Demarcus Fields on a third and long killed the drive for the Wildcats. Texas Tech would go two plays before giving the ball back to the Wildcats on another interception this time by Anthony Pandy.

On the very next play, Khalil Tate fumbled a hand off that was recovered by Jordyn Brooks of the Red Raiders. The turnover exchange eventually led to a touchdown for Texas Tech, only for Arizona to respond with a touchdown of their own on the very next drive. 

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Offensive miscues and missed opportunities spelled the rest of the game as the only other time Tech would lead is in the third quarter where they scored their second and final touchdown of the night to go up 14-13. Again, Tech’s touchdown was matched by Arizona on the ensuing drive and another touchdown by the Wildcats would eventually seal the deal. 

Arizona was able to have sustained drives using the ground game to wear the defense down and keep Texas Tech’s offense off of the field. Their last touchdown was an impressive 99 yard drive that featured all runs against a worn out defense. 

Key Plays

8:35 2nd [3rd & 7 at ARIZ 16] – Khalil Tate breaks off an 84 yard touchdown run on third and long to go ahead of the Red Raiders.

5:52 2nd [4th & 3 at ARIZ 15] – Texas Tech fakes a field goal and loses yards on the play. A questionable call as it didn’t fool Arizona and it put the ball in the hands of the holder for special teams. No disrespect intended.

11:29 4th [3rd & 6 at TTU 43] – Bowman’s pass is incomplete to tight-end Thompson. It was Texas Tech’s first drive after Arizona re-took the lead 20-14 and would have put the Red Raiders in the lead.

2:11 4th [4th & 10 at ARIZ 22] – Texas Tech turns the ball over on downs with a missed shot to the end zone to Erik Ezukanma. Had Tech scored, they would have had a chance for one more drive to tie the game.

Key Stats

314 yards rushing – Texas Tech gave up 314 yards on the ground to Arizona, and 84 of those came on a record touchdown for Khalil Tate. The Wildcats were able to bleed the clock in the fourth quarter with the ground game keeping the Red Raider offense on the side line.

7 of 17 – Texas Tech wasn’t able to stay on the field and their 41 percent on third down is why. The two turnovers didn’t cost the Red Raiders any points. Texas Tech has to create better third down situations for themselves by gaining yards on first and second down.

34:52 to 25:08 – That’s Arizona’s time of possession to Texas Tech’s. The Wildcats held the ball for almost a full quarter more than the Red Raiders did. Tech’s high tempo offense isn’t expected to have a lot of long sustained drives most of the game, but they have to give the defense a break at some point.

Key Players for TTU

Jordyn Brooks – Once again, Jordyn Brooks was a rock on defense for the Red Raiders. He led the team in tackles again with 13 solo tackles and three tackles for loss. He was a frequent topic for the announcers and was all over the field. He spent most of the night as a spy on the dynamic Khalil Tate. Jordyn recovered the fumbled hand-off by Tate, taking the ball from him when they went to the ground. Jordyn Brooks will go down as one of the great Texas Tech linebackers.

Douglas Coleman III – Coleman was second on the list of tackles with 10. He also had both of Texas Tech’s interceptions and deflected a pass. He is another key player that Tech can’t afford to lose if they want to compete in the Big 12.

TJ Vasher – Vasher had another great game with six receptions for 96 yards. The first game featured the slot receivers as the focal point of the offense, but Vasher has emerged out of the pack as the focal point of the offense. He showed toughness tonight and won multiple one-on-one battles as the rest of the offense seemed to struggle.

Remaining Thoughts

The defense can play – The defense gave up 499 total yards to Arizona, but that stat doesn’t justify the defense’s performance Saturday night. They gave the offense multiple opportunities to go ahead and seal the game. They met most of their weekly goals and kept the Wildcats in check for most of the night. Most of the rushing yards they gave up came in the fourth quarter after they had been left on the field for almost a quarter more than the Arizona defense was on the field. 

The offensive line will be better – Often times during the night Arizona was able to get pressure with three down defensive lineman. However, this is the first game the whole offensive line has been healthy and with that comes communication errors from not practicing together and being able to feel for how your neighbor plays. Texas Tech was still able to rush for 104 yards and though they let the defense hit Alan Bowman a few times, they didn’t give up any sacks. I expect the line to be better coming off of the bye week for their first Big 12 matchup versus Oklahoma on Septermber 28th.

The offense is still having growing pains – Texas Tech has all of the weapons on the offensive side of the ball to be a threat. They showed glimpses of big play ability against Arizona it just feels like they’re just not there yet. That’s to be expected in a new year with a new offense. Two of Bowman’s three interceptions this year seem to be miscues with the receivers instead of poorly thrown balls. Some dropped balls and missed opportunities made the offense look sluggish tonight but they still put up over 400 total yards. They just couldn’t capitalize enough to get the win. I expect Well’s and company to fix this and get the Red Raiders on the right track.

Injuries could be a problem again this year – Alan Bowman, Adrian Frye, Xavier Benson, Riko Jeffers, and a couple of others went down with injuries Saturday night and while most of them came back, it could spell trouble for the rest of the season. Nagging injuries can lead to bigger ones if they are re-aggravated and while there’s depth on defense, we can’t afford to lose Alan Bowman. It’s hard to watch young men go down in pain and we hope that everyone is able to recover over the next two weeks and come prepared to play in our toughest game of the season at Oklahoma.

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