LUBBOCK – A breakout performance by redshirt freshman quarterback Donovan Smith provided Texas Tech with a 41-38 upset win over Iowa State on Saturday night inside Jones AT&T Stadium. New head coach Joey McGuire watched from a suite as his Red Raiders earned their six wins and bowl eligibility. Smith threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns on 25 of 32 passing. He also added 50 rushing yards in the game.
Iowa State stormed back from a 31-17 halftime deficit to tie the game at 38 with one minute remaining in the game. Smith engineered the Red Raiders into field goal position, and field goal kicker Jonathan Garibay made a 62-yarder as the time expired to provide Texas Tech its sixth win. That win makes Texas Tech bowl eligible, which will be valuable for McGuire and his staff to evaluate the current roster with extra practices.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Smith made a case for 2022: Texas Tech possesses a few options at quarterback for the 2022 season. Transfer Tyler Shough, who started every game until an injury, could return. The Red Raiders signed one of the best high school prospects in the 2021 class in Behren Morton. The performance of Smith in his first college start adds his name to that list. He looked poised as a passer and dangerous as a runner. Smith is a true dual-threat quarterback who looked in-sync with his wide receivers. His ability to run also opened holes for the Texas Tech running backs.
Renewed excitement exists in Lubbock: Every new hire should provide energy. That’s the point of hiring a new coach. But something feels different in Lubbock. The arrival of McGuire was met with overwhelming excitement. The alumni are on board. More than 130 former players showed up on Friday night to meet him during a function. The high school coaches across the state of Texas are ecstatic. There’s no way to know if McGuire can return the Red Raiders to the heights achieved under Spike Dykes or Mike Leach, but the football program is better off today than it was two weeks ago after a loss to Kansas State. I spent two days on campus and could feel a different vibe around the football team than the previous few years.
Depth is an issue: McGuire inherits a roster with talent, but not a ton of depth. He’ll need to replenish the ranks, especially in the front seven defensively. There is a noticeable drop off between the starters and the reserves defensively for the Red Raiders. Defenders can’t be asked to play every snap in modern football. Depth is required for teams to play 60 minutes of sound football. The Red Raiders were flying to the football in the first half, and even in the first few possessions of the third quarter. But as the game wore on, the defense wore out, and that can’t continue if McGuire holds hopes of Texas Tech of eventually competing for a Big 12 title.
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