Texas Tech football: Under the radar stats from Red Raiders’ win over TCU

Texas Tech football: Under the radar stats from Red Raiders’ win over TCU
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Nov 2, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back Bryce Ramirez (3) holds the West Texas Championship Saddle Trophy after the game against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

To say that Texas Tech played a fantastic game on Thursday night against TCU might be a stretch.  However, this is a team that isn’t in a position to turn its nose up at any type of success on the football field.

At times, the Red Raiders clearly looked like the superior team.  Never trailing by more than one point in the game, twice Joey McGuire’s squad held two-score leads.

On the other hand, though, on each of those occasions, TCU was able to fight back into the game once actually taking a 21-20 lead and once having an opportunity to possess the ball in the closing minutes trailing by only seven points.

To be honest, TCU is a bad football team.  Relying on a redshirt freshman QB who has accuracy issues, the Frogs have now dropped their last three road games.

What’s more, Sonny Dykes’ team has not faced a ranked opponent all season and yet, it still boasts a record of just 4-5.  In other words, that was a team that Tech absolutely should have blown out of the water.

That almost happened when the Red Raiders took a 20-7 halftime lead and it almost happened again when the home team claimed a 35-21 advantage in the fourth quarter.  However, mistakes on the part of the home team allowed TCU to stay within striking defense.

Most maddening were the penalties that the Red Raiders committed.  Flagged eight times for 72 yards, Tech repeatedly made life more difficult than it needed to be.

Many of those flags were unnecessary.  For instance, in the first half, Cam’Ron Valdez kicked a defender after the whistle to draw a flag that backed the offense up to its own 13.  Fortunately, the Red Raiders would recover to score a touchdown on that possession to go up 17-7.

However, Tech was also flagged for a facemask, illegal touching, and three false starts.  Those are all avoidable infractions and against a better opponent, they could have cost McGuire’s team a win.

Fortunately, this TCU team wasn’t good enough to capitalize on Tech’s mistakes.  And fortunately, the Red Raiders pulled it together long enough to get a much-needed win.

Now, there is a clear (but still difficult) path to six wins and a third bowl appearance in a row.  Tech now has a chance to pick up what would be the season’s best win by taking down No. 21 Kansas on the road next Saturday.  That will be tough but not impossible to pull off.  Then, a win over a bad UCF team in Lubbock could send the Red Raiders bowling.

Had the Tech not been able to hold on against the Frogs, though, Their only path to the postseason would have required a win at No. 7 Texas as well.  That’s why beating TCU meant more than just picking up a win over a hated rival.

So now that the dust has settled and we’ve had a day to look back on the fourth Red Raider win of the year, let’s analyze some under-the-radar developments that helped carry Tech to a win.  We’ll start with a successful position swap that paid dividends on defense.

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However, he was able to finally return against TCU and immediately, he made an impact.  With six tackles (four solo) he was third on the team in stops and that came despite the fact that his snaps were limited as a precaution.

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It appears that Rodriguez and redshirt freshman Ben Roberts are the preferred inside LB tandem.  That duo was on the field together the most on Thursday as senior Jesiah Pierre continues to see his role decline as the season rolls on.

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The former transfer from Florida had only one tackle against TCU and had just one the game prior against BYU.  That’s surprising given that he was the team’s leading tackler a few games into the season.

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As for Rodriguez, he is in an interesting spot though.  He still has yet to redshirt at the NCAA level so if he sits out one more game this year, he will be able to use this year as a redshirt and still have three years left to play.

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However, he is integral to what the Red Raiders want to do on defense.  Thus, as long as there is a chance for bowl eligibility, it is hard to imagine McGuire and his staff holding Rodriguez out.

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Of course, if Tech were to win its final two games to get to six wins, it might make sense to sit Rodriguez in the season finale at Texas so that he can keep his year of eligibility.  (Bowl games do not count toward a player’s redshirt eligibility so he could play in the postseason.)

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For now, it appears that it will be full steam ahead for Rodriguez, though.  But keep an eye on how he is utilized the rest of the year because what to do with his potential redshirt is an interesting decision that the Tech coaches will have to make.

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Texas Tech’s place kicker Gino Garcia (99) kicks for the extra point against TCU in a Big 12 football game, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

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Gino Garcia comes up clutch again for Texas Tech

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Don’t overlook the importance of the two field goals that Gino Garcia made for Tech on Thursday.  In a seven-point win, those two kicks proved to be massive.

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Texas Tech got a 27-yard FG from Garcia in the second quarter to go up 10-7 but it was his second make of the night that was eye-opening.  At the end of the first half, the senior nailed a 55-yard kick to put his team in front 20-7 at the half.

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That kick was massive for two reasons.  First, it obviously extended the Red Raider lead.

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Second, though, it also prevented TCU from having an opportunity to score right before halftime.  Had Garcia missed, TCU would have taken over at their own 37 with almost a minute left to play needing to only pick up about 30 yards to try their own FG.

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The way the Frogs were able to throw the ball on Thursday, that might not have been too big of a task.  Instead, Garcia gave his team a two-score lead after 30 minutes of play.

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The former transfer from Houston Baptist is in a groove right now.  He’s made his last seven field goals dating back to a 2-2 performance against Tarleton State in week three.

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It was a shaky start to 2023 for Garcia though.  In the first two weeks, he was just 3-7 combined and in the Wyoming and Oregon games, his misses played huge roles in Red Raider losses.

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He’s now rebounded and is 10-14 on the season and it is clear that McGuire trusts him.  That was evident when Garcia was sent out to try the 55-yard kick against TCU.  He nailed it with plenty of leg to spare and that proved to be a sneaky-important moment in the Red Raider win.

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