SAN MARCOS — Two weeks in a row, Texas Tech has had one or more prominent players missing from its receiver corps. It didn’t make any difference either time.
Tech clobbered Texas State 58-10 Saturday with split end Eric Ward back home with a concussion and flanker Marcus Kennard getting hurt in the first half. The Red Raiders beat Northwestern State 44-6 in the opener without Javon Bell, Darrin Moore and Tyson Williams.
The most important variable this time? Tech’s wide receivers were a physical mismatch for Texas State defensive backs. Just like last year, when the 6-foot-4 Moore went off for a 12-catch, 221-yard game while towering over smaller Bobcats corners, the Red Raiders put the same approach to work again.
“It felt really good,” said Moore, who caught five passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns in his first action of the season. “They gave us a lot of man coverage at the beginning, and I was able to win with the corners that I had. My old coach from Blinn, he’s a coach over there now, so I had to do him kind of bad.”
Moore said he would have played last week if not for a groin injury. He helped the Red Raiders get off to a swift start.
Tech quarterback Seth Doege connected on touchdown passes of 23 and 4 yards to Moore, 23 yards to Alex Torres, 19 yards to Jace Amaro and 8 yards to Javon Bell. The first one to Moore and the one to Amaro both were more or less jump-ball situations in which a Bobcats cornerback was giving up 6 inches to the Tech receiver.
“We liked our advantage at outside receivers versus their corners,” Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said.
Ward, who got hurt in practice during the week, should be back for this week’s game against New Mexico, Brown said.
The Red Raiders have felt since preseason practice that the number of options in their receiver group was a team strength. It has been, at least in the early going. They covered for Ward’s absence by using Moore and Bradley Marquez at his position, split end, though both have spent much of their time at flanker.
Kennard suffered a strained groin muscle in the first half, Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said, and did not return.
“Eric Ward has made a lot of plays and we missed him,” Brown said. “Especially after Kennard got hurt, we would have loved to have had him. But we feel like we’ve got five or six guys there that we can play with, and it’s been a luxury so far.”
The switch meant to split end Moore tortured the Bobcats with catches on the left side of the field Saturday, whereas he damaged them last year while lined up on the right side.
Bell, after sitting out last week’s game for disciplinary reasons, made his Tech debut with five catches for 81 yards. The fast junior-college transfer started at flanker, and the Red Raiders called his number on a deep pass on the first play of the game. Bell drew a defensive pass interference penalty, and quarterback Seth Doege kept periodically testing the Bobcats deep.
“We wanted to attack, take shots down the field,” Brown said. “We did that. We made a couple of plays, missed on a couple of balls, but it got them backed up.”
Doege threw four of his five touchdown passes in the first half, when Tech went in leading 38-10. The last one was a throw to Amaro, and the 6-5 tight end skied over 5-11 cornerback Craig Mager for the 19-yard TD.
The Bobcats had a chance to stop that drive one play early when Doege threw a pass right to sophomore safety Justin Iwuji. Somehow, the ball went through Iwuji’s hands and Amaro, running a couple of yards behind him, reached in and snatched it for a 24-yard gain.
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