How many times this offseason did you hear about the attractiveness of Texas Tech’s home football schedule? A million times? More than a million? The best part of the Red Raiders starting the season with three blowout wins might be that Jones AT&T Stadium could be a noisy place again when No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 8 West Virginia visit in early October.
To have much chance in those games, the Red Raiders need to win back the fans they chased off with their weak efforts at home last season against Iowa State and Oklahoma State.
To me, the stadium seemed relatively quiet Saturday, at least compared to the past, and considering an announced crowd of more than 58,000. Their lungs rested, a lot of folks probably want a reason to crank up the volume again in early October — when Oklahoma comes in with a three-game losing streak in Lubbock and Dana Holgorsen comes back to town with his West Virginia team in tow.
So much to look forward to with those two Saturdays.
Provided the Red Raiders don’t take two steps back in Ames, Iowa, for the step forward they’ve taken so far.
■ Understandably, most poll voters need to see more before they put Tech in the Top 25. The Red Raiders got votes Sunday from three of the 60 voters in The Associated Press Top 25. Cecil Hurt from the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News and Erik Gee from KNML radio in Albuquerque — surprise! — slotted Tech at No. 24. Charles Davis from Fox Sports in Los Angeles included Tech at No. 25.
Indulge me for my moment as I air a pet peeve: Don’t believe anyone who says the Red Raiders received five votes in this week’s poll. They got three votes that totaled five points.
■ Sure, it’s only three games, but how’s this for balance? Tech’s top six receivers each have between eight and 12 catches and between 106 and 161 receiving yards. The six are Bradley Marquez, Jace Amaro, Darrin Moore, Jakeem Grant, Javon Bell and Eric Ward.
Meanwhile, in rushing, Kenny Williams has 34 carries for 242 yards, Eric Stephens 34 carries for 238 yards and SaDale Foster 31 carries for 166 yards.
That kind of equality in numbers is hard to pull off, even if you planned it that way.
In August, before coaches decided to try and redshirt DeAndre Washington, a Tech staffer told me he could picture the Red Raiders having four backs rush for around 500 yards apiece this season.
Pretty insightful, based on what we’ve seen so far.
■ The NCAA rule change that moved kickoffs from the kicking team’s 30-yard line to its 35 is affecting different teams in different ways. Naturally, teams with an ace kickoff-return man hate the change, because it means fewer opportunities for a big play.
Tech’s kickoff-return team hasn’t been on the field much, but its kickoff-coverage team sure has. That unit, with the exception of giving up a 98-yard touchdown Saturday to New Mexico, has actually been a net positive even with only a few touchbacks.
Kramer Fyfe, the primary kickoff man, has kicked off 23 times this season. Though Fyfe’s produced only four touchbacks, the Red Raiders have done better than a touchback (for which the ball comes out to the 25) on 14 of the 23 occasions. Opponents have had starting field position inside the 25-yard line 12 times, and Tech has two kickoffs, both leading to touchdowns.
The other four times, the opponent started at the 25, the 26, the 26 and the 44 — the latter after a Tech penalty. (In charting it, I didn’t include the four times backup kicker Andrew Bowman kicked off late in blowouts.)
Blake Dees, J.J. Gaines and Frenship ex Summitt Hogue have been at the heart of the coverage with three tackles apiece on kickoffs, according to official stats.
So maybe it’s worth it to kick it high and turn the hounds loose.