A season ago, Texas Tech (1-0, 0-0) began its season with a slow start in the first half against Texas State. This year, the Red Raiders wasted little time getting out to a quick lead against Northwestern State, and never looked back defeating the Demons 44-6.
In their season opener, the Red Raiders early offensive surge was led by contributions from both the running and passing attack.
Senior running back Eric Stephens scampered for a touchdown late in the first quarter, which allowed him to pass Danny Amendola for 7th all-time in career yardage.
Stephens said this group of running backs has the potential to be the most potent backfield in the country.
“I feel like we can be the best backfield, not only in the conference but in the nation,” he said. “We have a great tandem of (running) backs back there, and when we get our receiving game going and all of our receivers back it’s going to open up the running game that much more.”
Tech got three different running backs involved, as they carried the ball more than 40 times collectively for a total of 176 yards and two touchdowns.
This was the first live action for Stephens since early last season when a knee injury kept him sidelined for the second half of the season.
It felt great to be back out on the field with the guys after all the rehab, Stephens said.
“I felt fine,” he said. “Our tempo in practice is much faster than what we go in a game. So when you’re out there the only time you really get tired is if you break a long run and unfortunately I didn’t have a long run tonight.”
Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he believes Stephens will have a better week this week now that he has been hit in game-type situations.
“I thought it was important that he got hit early so he’d trust that knee a little more,” he said. “I think you’re going to see a big improvement week two just because it’s the first time he’s been out live in a while.”
The Red Raiders were able to find their rhythm offensively in the second quarter.
An early two yard rush by Eric Stephens put the Red Raiders up 14-3. Quarterback Seth Doege ended the following drive with two yard touchdown pass to running back Kenny Williams.
Doege started slow out of the gates with an interception on the first drive of the game, but in the second quarter he led the Red Raiders down the field methodically before connecting with Kenny Williams for the touchdown.
“I don’t think I threw the ball particularly well,” Doege said. “I pride myself on being one of the most accurate passers and that’s something I really work on. So, I don’t think I was as accurate as I wanted to be.”
Doege completed 23 of his 34 pass attempts for 199 yards and a touchdown, but he also had that early interception.
“(The interception) was a downer for me,” Doege said. “But as a quarterback you can’t dwell on mistakes and you have to kind of keep playing.”
After a barrage of field goals by kicker Ryan Bustin, quarterback Michael Brewer gave the offense a spark near the end of the game.
Brewer completed 10 of his 13 passes for a total of 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns — both to wide receiver Marcus Kennard who started in the absence of Darrin Moore.
“Everybody can tell, he can throw the ball,” he said. “Obviously, this is Seth’s offense, but I think he can even help Seth at times. This is a team sport. We want to get Michael as many snaps in these games as we can to get him ready for the future.”
Tech’s defense completely shut down the Demons rushing attack, allowing just 13 yards the entire game.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville said the running attack was the focus of this game on both sides of the ball.
“(The) two things we wanted to do was establish the run and stop the run,” he said. “I think we did that well. It was great to see Eric Stephens back getting a couple of touchdowns. But we’ll need all three running backs as we go.”
Northwestern State (0-1, 0-0) was unable to establish any type of rhythm offensively. The Red Raider defense allowed the Demons less than 100 yards.
The last time Tech’s defense prevented an offense from totaling 125 yards was in 2007. The opponent was Northwestern State. Texas Tech had never allowed fewer than 100 yards until Saturday.
Next up for the Red Raiders will be Texas State, as the Bobcats come off a 30-13 victory against Houston. The matchup is scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday in San Marcos and will be aired on ESPN3.