Texas Tech squeaked out a win in the fourth quarter against a team that let's be honest, with all due respect, they should have a Route 66'd Central Arkansas.
I watched Central Arkansas v Texas Tech closer than close on the DVR, here are some notes:
***Central Arkansas' offensive line played very, very well early on and for most of the game, they helped sustained two physical scoring drive drives of 58 yards on 18 plays, and an 80 yard drive on 12 plays in the first quarter.
Central Arkansas physically controlled the line of scrimmage and the ball just like a certain team in orange and blue likes to do, they ran downhill and utilized the play action showing Tech maybe be a little iffy against a smash mouth approach.
***Tech's secondary is young, fast, and nasty, huge test for the young UTEP receivers. They do a good job in man-to-man within ten yards, though Central Arkansas only tried a deep ball once in the first half.
In a fast and nasty way they snuffed a few receiver screens that were pretty predictable, UTEP showed a Lee Mays type jail break, and also threw a few WR screens and swings. UCA had a deep ball go for big yards in the second half, which could be a weakness from a physically stout secondary.
***Sam Eguavoen, and Pete Robertson are fast in the middle at linebacker and have to be pinpointed on blitzes out of the 4-3 or multiple looks Tech could use, Tech's leading tacklers last week were their corners.
***Texas Tech did not force a fumble until late in the fourth quarter, and had five tackles for loss and two sacks; most of their pressure came from the front four.
***Davis Webb was a little juiced up, and I wouldn't look too much into his early game struggles. He is mechanically sound, and was maybe trying to do too much in terms of making something amazing happen early.
I thought he really settled in on their last couple of drives of the first half, to me Webb played more within their system and really got back to what Tech wants to do during that period.
He did have some video game like numbers to finish the game, though his interception in the red zone early on was by far his worst decision of the game.
***Next to UTSA, UTEP will not face a deeper stable of skill players the rest of the year.
Jakeem Grant had five catches in the first half as Webb's main target early on; he finished with 48 yards on 6 catches. Bradley Marquez is a receiver their staff, and everyone around the Red Raiders feel is poised to have a break year, and breakout he did with 10 catches for 184 yards and 2 TDs, including a beautifully ran post up the seam late in the fourth quarter.
Tech spread the ball around to eight different pass catchers who had at least two catches, expect a lot of dime, and nickel from the Miners. With UTEP possibly down two players at corner back this week, Tech has a huge advantage here.
UTEP is going to have to be able to tackle multiple big time play makers in space. Their offense is set up to get receivers the ball in space, whether it's a screen, swing pass, or horizontal attempt, keeping everything in front, and gang tackling have to be implemented and executed at its highest level if you're UTEP.
*** Kliff Kingsbury said he didn't do a good job of getting them going early, and blamed himself for what he called an embarrassing performance in terms of penalties and energy I would guess.
What approach/adjustments does he make in their first roadie in front of a possible sold out Sun Bowl? Penalties were a huge problem, as disciplined as UTEP played on the road, that will be a factor of the game to keep an eye on, personal fouls kept Central Arkansas in the game.
***Central Arkansas did a good job of keeping up with no huddle in parts of the game, but they slipped up a few times in the second half when they couldn't afford to, chalk that up either conditioning or Tech speeding things up to another level of urgency, I saw a mixture of both.
***I like Tech's backfield rotation; they are fast, shifty, small, but very physical. That match-up is a huge test for the linebackers since UCA's linebackers made a lot plays in the running game.
DeAndre Washington had most of the carries with 20 carries for 104 yards, Quinton White had eight carries, and Justin Stockton had six carries. As a team they finished with 184 yards on 34 called runs to their running backs, all of their backs averaged five yards per carry or more.
You would probably expect a Kingsbury lead Texas Tech team to sling it around 50-plus times like they did, but don't be surprised if Tech tries to run a lot early in the game with the nice rotation they have at their disposal.
***Tech had some troubles with special teams coverage at times, in the end UCA would only average 16.6 yards on their five kickoff returns, though two almost were broken for house calls by Central Arkansas' talented return man. Paging Autrey Golden, paging Autrey Golden.
***Texas Tech has a really quick and athletic offensive line. Interesting to see how UTEP will try to create pressure with their front four. The UTEP defensive line showed some capable pass rush, and penetration last week, another huge test for a UTEP position group that is worth keeping an eye on.
***I hate to use this cliché because it's usually a weak take and analysis, but Central Arkansas played fearless, inspired and I feel Tech in all honestly took them lightly.
Tech still did what they do racking up 636 yards, and put up 40 points. Defensively there are some questions about their ability to stop the run, and the deep ball may plague their secondary early in the season.
UTEP's best bet is to win the first and second quarters i.e. get off to another fast start, controlling the clock, ball, and not allowing big plays on defense, and finishing the second half strong with defense leading the charge.
UTEP has to force Tech to go on long drives; Tech's offense is built for the big play which will give momentum to the defense on the road if they break a few in key situations.
This may seem weird but the longer the UTEP defense was out on the field against UNM, the better the defensive play calling would get. UTEP has to force a chess match on defense, and not allow Tech to dish out their bread and butter, but force them to mix it up and slow things down if slowing down their tempo is possible.
Offensively UTEP will pound, but from what I saw against UCA, as good as Tech's secondary could be by season's end, they might susceptible to the long ball right now. Ian Hamilton please stand up sir.
Could we have a repeat of 2006, but hopefully a different ending?