Wyoming Defense Throws Tech’s Air Raid ‘Out of Whack’
LARAMIE -- The thing that caught Jakorey Hawkins' eye initially was the speed.
Texas Tech operates a no-huddle offense, typically snapping the ball while the play clock is still in the 30's.
He was in the midst of examining tendencies and routes, but the numbers don't lie. The visitors averaged 302 yards passing a season ago. Three quarterbacks saw time under center last fall -- Tyler Shough, Donovan Smith and Behren Morton -- and every one of those guys eclipsed the 1,100-yard mark through the air.
To put that in perspective, Wyoming's signal caller Andrew Peasley threw for just 1,574 yards in 11-plus games.
Five of Tech's receivers snagged more than 30 balls, too. Running back Tahj Brooks was knocking on the door with 27. Drae McCray, a transfer from Austin Peay, also brought 75 receptions and more than 1,000 yards with him to west Texas.
"It's been good learning about them," Wyoming's senior cornerback said before the Cowboys hosted the Red Raiders in the opener.
His position coach had a different point of view when he watched the tape of Joey McGuire's air-raid attack.
"I mean, you'd have to bleep out what I thought initially," Benny Boyd said with a grin. "They're very good."
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That outing is now in the rear-view mirror.
On the surface, it appears Tech did what Tech does. Shough threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Nine receivers got involved, seven of which finished with multiple grabs.
The Red Raiders' super senior got off to a 6-for-6 start. He tossed a perfect 33-yard scoring strike into the arms of Myles Price on the opening drive of the night. Just a few ticks later, Shough turned a Wyoming fumble into six more points, this time connecting with Jayden York on a jump ball in the end zone.
It appeared it was a long night ahead for the home team as Tech extended its first-quarter lead to 17-0.
This all equates to a blowout, right?
Texas Tech's next seven possessions went like this:
* Missed field goal
* Missed field goal
* Missed field goal
Shock was 15-of-23 in that span for just 153 yards. Wrook Brown jumped a route on the first possession of the second quarter and Tech was also just 3-of-10 on third down in that timeframe. The Cowboys were also without starting cornerback Kolbey Taylor, who was injured late in the third.
Wyoming scored 20-unanswered points and took its first lead with 8:58 to go in the fourth.
The Red Raiders didn't score from the 4:02 mark of the first quarter until 41 ticks remained in regulation.
"I thought we came out and we played really fast and played really hard," McGuire said postgame, adding that the sense of urgency wasn't there. "We just, I don't know how we got out of whack ... That's my job and I have to figure out what's wrong, you know, how we got out of kilter. You look in the first quarter and it was almost like we get those turnovers and we're scoring at will. Then we don't put any points on the board for, I guess, another two quarters."
Shough said it was mostly self-inflicted wounds that led to inefficiency on offense.
"We just were shooting ourselves in the foot," he said after finishing the night 31-of-47. "You know, it was nothing that they did, we just have to execute better and I have to have better ball placement on some of those third downs. You know, low balls. We have to get those first downs and that's on me.
"... It's just the little details that we have to clean up as far as just in the second and third quarter. We have to find ways to get momentum back. When you're the away team, with a really good crowd and a really good team, you know, you can't let them get back in the game and get momentum. We have to keep our foot on the pedal."
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said Monday after reviewing the film that one of the major factor in this victory comes down to one stat: 2.8
That's the Red Raiders' average yards per rush last Saturday night. That amounts to 93 yards on 33 carries.
"If you can make a team one dimensional, which we were able to do, (you have a chance to win.)," Bohl said, adding credit needs to be given to defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel, who utilized different schemes throughout. "... Even though they're noted for being a tempo, fast-paced offense, it takes the ball different places. They're a physical team that likes to run the football."
Texas Tech's offensive coordinator Zach Kittley was blunt when asked about that aspect of his unit.
"It was pathetic."
Wyoming will host Portland State this Saturday in Laramie. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.
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