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September 18, 2011

Wrap: Near perfection in the ABQ

Texas Tech dominated New Mexico from start to finish on Saturday thanks to a near-perfect outing by Seth Doege. The Red Raiders jumped out to a 52-7 lead before the starters were pulled, and then coasted to a 59-13 victory in Albuquerque.

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED

1. Doege can be really good. It's a big deal anytime you set an NCAA record, regardless of who your opponent is. Seth Doege did exactly that yesterday afternoon, completing 40-of-44 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns. He was everything that Texas Tech fans have grown to expect out of their quarterbacks -- calm in the pocket, confident in his decisions and assertive with his throws.

Doege did what Taylor Potts struggled with during his two years as the starter, he made a record-setting performance look effortless.

Still, questions remain about Doege. We haven't see him play against a good -- or even above average -- team, and he hasn't faced a whole lot of adversity through two games. But the potential is clearly there, and he hasn't shown any bad tendencies or habits to this point. In 2009, despite facing two overmatched opponents in North Dakota and Rice, Potts displayed some frustrating tendencies that would stick with him for the remainder of his career.

So far, Doege's been on-point, but his next big test will be Oct. 8 against Texas A&M.

2. Darrin Moore is the headliner, but Tech's receiving corps is deeper than expected. Doege completed passes to 11 receivers during his three quarters of action against New Mexico, compared to just eight in the opener against Texas State. Darrin Moore still got his -- nine catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns -- but Eric Ward, Eric Stephens and Cornelius Douglas all caught four or more passes a piece; only Moore and Alex Torres had four or more receptions against Texas State.

Raise your hand if you thought Ward would be the Red Raiders' second-leading receiver after two weeks? I certainly didn't think that would be the case, and Ward said Saturday that he wasn't expecting to start this early in the season.

"It actually took me by surprise, because I had come off an injury and I wasn't really expecting to start a couple of weeks ago," he said. "I didn't really know until this past week, coach told me."

The emergence of Ward as a reliable option at X-receiver is obviously a very positive development for the Red Raiders, as they need a threat on that side to take some heat off of Moore. Ward may not duplicate his UNM stat line week after week, but it looks like Tech has found its full-time starter at X for this season.

3. The Red Raider defense has a script and, so far, is sticking to it. The names and jerseys of Tech's opponent changed, but the story remained largely the same The Red Raiders gave up some yards, but forced three turnovers and only let New Mexico convert two of its three redzone opportunities.

Tech only logged three sacks on Saturday, but succeeded in its larger goal of keeping UNM quarterback Tarean Austin contained in the pocket. Austin logged 12 rush attempts for 38 yards and didn't have a run longer than 10 yards.

OBSCENELY OBLIGATORY OVERREACTION

BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS
1. Oklahoma -It wasn't pretty, but the Sooners survived early season test against Florida State.
2. Okla. State - Cowboys stayed up past their bedtime and coasted past Tulsa.
3. Texas A&M - We'll find out a lot more about the Aggies this Saturday.
4. Baylor - Weather mercifully ended Bears' beatdown of Stephen F. Austin.
5. Texas Tech - Red Raiders routed New Mexico as expected, another easy one this weekend.
6. Texas - Have the Longhorns found their QB? Case McCoy may be their guy.
7. Missouri - David Yost doesn't forget about his RBs against FCS teams, it seems.
8. Iowa State - Ugly win, but Iowa State only Big 12 squad with two wins over BCS AQ teams.
9. Kansas State - Wildcats shutdown winless Kent State squad, notch first shutout since 2006.
10. Kansas - Jayhawks are the dregs of the Big 12. Again.
If the New Mexico game is any indication, Tech will be more versatile on offense than they were in 2010. We suspected going into this season that the Red Raiders would probably be a little more balanced in terms of run-pass than last season, but I'm not sure if anyone expected the team's offense to be this versatile.

Consider what you saw Saturday. Tech used the Pistol formation quite a bit, ran play-action out of it several times, couple of bootlegs and a wide receiver pass. The Red Raiders also ran a fake double screen in the second quarter. All that, and Tech still passed basically 60 percent of the team.

WEEKEND SUPERLATIVES

Biggest Nightmare - If things could go wrong in Albuquerque, they did on Saturday. Random and isolated lightning strikes delayed the game for two long stretches that combined to last over an hour and a half. The instant replay system wasn't functioning correctly. The Versus broadcast, by all accounts, was terrible -- the crew mistook director of operations Tommy McVay for Tommy Tuberville for most of pregame, and the feed cut out completely in the second half. The chain connecting the first down markers broke in the first half and had to be reconnected. And, to top it all off, the Internet in the press box stopped working in the fourth quarter.

The Record Breaker - Seth Doege set an NCAA record for completion percentage (90.9 percent) and tied a school record for consecutive completions (15) on Saturday. Not bad for his second start, right? After the game, Doege was quick to credit the entire offensive unit for his success.

"There were probably incompletions that the receivers caught, the offensive line played really well. I think I got hit only one time and it was because I missed the assignment and called the protection wrong.

"Those guys did a great job and, like I said, it's a tribute to the entire offense."

Mr. Redemption - Austin Zouzalik, a former high school quarterback, has been waiting nine months to try his hand at attempting his second collegiate pass. His first official pass attempt came last November against Missouri, an underthrown ball to Detron Lewis. Zouzalik's number was called two months later in the TicketCity Bowl, but his pass to Taylor Potts that resulted in a 13-yard catch and score was officially ruled a lateral.

Zouzalik made good when called upon against UNM. He threw a nice ball to Moore with enough zip on it, away from a defender, that resulted in a 26-yard touchdown.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Kansas was exposed for the terrible team they are on Saturday, giving up 768 yards of total offense and 66 points to Georgia Tech. The Jayhawks are just the second Big 12 team to lose so far this season -- Missouri fell to Arizona State in overtime last week -- but were the first league team to be thoroughly embarrassed. Including KU-GT, there were eight games on Saturday that involved Big 12 teams, the other seven teams combined gave up less points than Turner Gill's crew did in Atlanta.

Speaking of the Big 12, the league may be falling apart, but it continues to flex its muscle on the playing field. Kansas did get pantsed by Georgia Tech, but Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas all beat BCS AQ teams on the road, and Texas Tech and Oklahoma State both notched road wins against regional rivals. The Big 12 heads into Week 4 of the season 23-2 overall and 18-7 against the spread.

Tech's Seth Doege threw four incompletions on Saturday against New Mexico. Very impressive. Baylor's Robert Griffin, though, has thrown just eight incompletions in two games. Equally as impressive. Griffin has completed 41-of-49 passes for 624 yards and eight touchdowns in games against TCU and Stephen F. Austin, and leads the country in passing efficiency.

There are only five games involving Big 12 teams on the docket next week, but three of them are doozies. No. 8 Texas A&M hosts No. 7 Oklahoma State, Kansas State hits the road to face Miami (Fla.), and No. 1 Oklahoma looks to avenge last season's loss to Missouri.



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