Here are 5 takeaways from Texas Tech’s 33-31 loss to TCU on Saturday.
Adrian Frye’s adventurous day
In the first half alone, Frye got involved in two huge plays and nearly came away with two interceptions. On third down in the red zone, Max Duggan threw a ball to Taye Barber which Frye played perfectly to break it up and force a field goal. Frye made a fantastic play on the very next drive to get a hand on another pass, but the ball went off his hands and landed in Barber’s lap for a 43 yard gain.
As a run stopper, Frye came up big when he stopped Duggan’s run to force a field goal on the final play of the third quarter. In other key situations on third down, Frye had some less than tight coverage which allowed several big first downs when Tech needed stops. The transition from corner to safety has been difficult on Frye this year but he’s shown flashes of his former brilliance in the last few weeks.
Jett Duffey’s slow start, fast finish
Starting the game with an interception on the first drive is less than ideal. Under throwing a wide open receiver and turning what should’ve been an 88-yard touchdown into a 29 yard gain also isn’t great. Texas Tech struggled offensively to start this game, but Duffey jump started it with some huge runs. He converted a third down by evading the entire TCU defensive line inexplicably and picked up double the yards he needed on a drive where Texas Tech went on to score a touchdown.
Those early struggles on deep balls faded as he hit throws of 70, 51, 33, and 32 yards. Duffey found his composure to stand in the pocket and make quick reads in addition to keeping the defense honest with his legs. His turnaround is one of the big reasons the Red Raiders were able to get back in this game.
Duffey finished with 333 passing yards and four touchdowns along with 42 rushing yards.
Riko Jeffers take a bow
When Jordyn Brooks left the game with an injury in the first half, Texas Tech trailed 17-0. It looked like Tech had no chance at getting back in the game. Losing one of the best linebackers in the country always hurts, but it hurts less when Riko Jeffers steps up and has one of his best career games.
He put up 10 total tackles, a 10-yard sack, and a QB hurry. Though he made a mistake and earned a 15-yard penalty on TCU’s penultimate drive to put the Horned Frogs in Texas Tech territory, Jeffers stepped up and outperformed expectations in a crucial game.
R.J. Turner is a one-man wrecking crew
Big plays by Turner got this Texas Tech team right back in the game. Though he only had three catches in the game, two of them went for touchdowns. His only non-TD catch was a 14-yard play that made 2nd and 15 a manageable 3rd and 1. The other two catches Turner made were game-changers. The second catch of the day was a 70-yard touchdown as he just burned his coverage for a huge score.
His other touchdown on the day came from 32 yards out in the third quarter and put the Red Raiders down just 5 points. Turner also should have had another touchdown on a strange play in the second quarter. Duffey scrambled out of the pocket and heaved a prayer into the end zone where Turner and Dalton Rigdon both caught the ball for a touchdown. Rigdon was credited with the catch as he ended up with the ball.
After Turner’s long touchdown Trey Wolff missed his first career extra-point attempt putting the Red Raiders in a tough position. Because of the missed PAT, Tech decided to go for two on their next two touchdowns and didn’t get either conversion. That’s a three-point swing and Texas Tech only lost by two.
Jett Duffey’s interception came off a tipped pass, much like the 34-yard catch by Taye Barber on the ball Adrian Frye got his hands on. After a big stop by the defense, Texas Tech got the ball back with 2:20 left, two timeouts, and an offense that was rolling. On the first play of that drive, McLane Mannix fumbled right into the path of a TCU defender to seal the game. Few games this season have been won or lost by such fine margins.