Texas Tech comes to town for a massive early test for NC

It’s been 19 years since NC State and Texas Tech met on the football field — that was a 49-21 win for Wolfpack at Carter-Finley in what he swears at the time was the hottest day in the planet’s history. The previous year, the State topped the Red Raiders in overtime, 51-48, thanks to an outstanding performance by TA McLendon.

In the years since, the Red Raiders have stayed true to their air-raid roots, and in that sense at least, little has changed since these teams launched in 2003. It was never an easy scheme to handle, and NC State would be cutting the work for it.

However, there are reasons to be optimistic. For one thing, this Wolfpack defense did well against Mike Leach’s attack at Starkville last year, limiting Mississippi State to 24 points at 316 yards, with only 22 on the ground. Furthermore, defensive coordinator Tony Gibson has a lot of experience planning games against the Air Raid since his time in West Virginia. Gibson Until I managed to fill Patrick Mahomes One year.

And Texas Tech kicks off this weekend with an inexperienced – though clearly talented – quarterback in Donovan Smith. Smith was cast in the starting role after Tyler Shove was injured in the technical season opener; Smith will begin his sixth college education on Saturday.

Smith has proven to be an effective passer in his limited time on the court, and his mobility will be an issue as well. He’s different from the typical Texas Tech quarterback in this respect, and that could count a lot.

Against Houston, he ran the ball 14 times and gained 86 yards, including a game-winning scramble in overtime. Although he was also fired six times, losing a total of 58 yards to the ground. (Hence the odd-looking “20 holds, 28 yards” line from those box points.)

There should be concerns on the technical side after allowing a lot of pressure up front. Texas Tech has three new freshmen on the line, and they have very little major college experience among them. Dennis Wellborn’s center is a freshman college transfer in his first season with FBS, right guard Landon Peterson started three career stages (two of them coming in 2022), and right tackle Monroe Mills in his first year as a start.

It will be interesting to see how these guys handle a big game under the spotlight in a hostile crowd. Here, perhaps, is an area where fans of the state can make a difference.

Texas Tech also lost its two best receivers from last season, although as usual in this system they found delivery guys to be effective. Freshman Jerand Bradley is the team’s leading receiver to date, with 12 grabs for 158 yards and two points. It’s a tough match at 6’5 and you can bet Tech will try to take advantage of that. Four different players earned more than 100 yards per season, while seven players had at least five passes.

Looking back, the Red Raiders include Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson, who combined for 1,068 yards in 2021. Workloads were great even that year, but Brooks handled the bulk of the work this past weekend. They both have plenty of experience, and Thompson was the team leader in 2019 and 2020. Brooks had four runs last season from over 40 yards, which put him in 10th place nationally.

On the defensive side, Texas Tech is quite packed with top-tier hardware, and while the unit has had to replace a handful of newbies, the overall experience level here is high. Up front, defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings made 35 consecutive starts, nose guard Tony Bradford has 31 games of experience, and defender Tyree Wilson led the team with 13.5 TFL (7.0 sacks) in 2021.

Linebacker is an area of ​​concern from a Tech perspective. They got a key player who was a regular starter last season and this year’s Spring Ball, another who played sparingly in Florida prior to the move, with only five starting players. Crashon Meriwether is a major squad-maker at the center-back, but he led the team in maneuvers again in 2020 and is doing so again in 2022.

As for high school, I’m not sure Devin Leary will be facing a more experienced group this season. There are eight seniors spread over five positions, including all juniors. In the position of the “star” is Marquis Waters, who began his career at 41. (Thirty-five of them came to Duke). In one corner is Adrian Frye, who started his career at 35. In the opposite corner is Richard Williams, who started his last 12 games in 2021. Dadryon Taylor-Demmerson has several years of experience and became a starting player in 2021, as did his teammate Reggie Pearson, Who averaged more shots per game than anyone else in defense. (Pearson also started 12 games for Wisconsin in 2019).

And yes, you can expect former Wolfpack corner owner Dunlap to play a part in the spin, too.

Texas Tech’s defense certainly has the potential to give Pack problems, and if NC State falters the way it did against ECU in that second half, you could be in trouble. But Texas Tech has a lot of lasting concerns of its own, and they’ll line up against the best defense I’ve seen this season. It will likely end up being one of those surprisingly low-end games that go against the mainstream narrative. who knows!

Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a one-goal game late in the fourth quarter.