Posted on: January 1, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2011 7:20 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Texas Tech withstands a late Northwestern charge to win the inaugural TicketCity Bowl 45-38
Offense: Senior Taylor Potts spent most of his career at Texas Tech in the Air Raid system that basically hands the keys of the offense to the quarterback. When the Red Raiders hired Tommy Tuberville as Mike Leach's replacement, that system left with Leach. But when Northwestern shut down the rushing game early, Potts was given the green light to fire at will. Using accurate throws on intermediate passing routes, the Red Raiders marched up and down the field all day on the Wildcats. Potts finished his career as a Red Raider with one of his finer performances of the season, completing 43 of 56 passes for 369 yards, and five total touchdowns. GRADE: A-
Defense: A matter of days ago Texas Tech found out that not only would defensive coordinator James Willis be leaving after just one season, but he would not even coach the Red Raiders in their bowl game. Considering the disruption this must have caused in the unit's preparation, the Red Raiders put together a pretty impressive performance in the first half. Unfortunately, when Northwestern got their dual-QB offense going in the second half the defense was caught on their heels. GRADE: C-
Coaching: When the rushing game failed, head coach Tommy Tuberville was forced to do the one thing he truly distastes: airing the ball out. But Tubs was able to come to terms with abandoning the running game because of how accurate Potts appeared, particularly early. Tuberville even let a trick play go down on the double-pass that set up Potts' rushing/receiving touchdown. The Red Raiders came into the game with basically no defensive coordinator, and yet still held the Wildcats to just one score in the first half. GRADE: B
Offense: In the first half, Northwestern looked helplessly lost without quarterback Dan Persa and running back Mike Trumpy. Their offense was stagnant, and their defensive counterparts could not do anything to stop the Red Raiders either. Needless to say, things looked bleak. But after the break, the Wildcats were able to utilize their two-quarterback package to move the ball down the field on Texas Tech. Running a scheme that utilized both Evan Watkins and Kain Colter, occasionally on the field at the same time, the Wildcats were able to keep the defense guessing and take advantage of some open field to score quickly and get back into the game. With Watkins primarily throwing and Colter primarily running, the two freshmen combined to do their best Dan Persa impression. Unfortunately, it was not enough to overcome the 24-6 halftime deficit. GRADE: C
Defense: Northwestern's defense was their one consistent flaw throughout all four quarters of the TicketCity Bowl. Time and time again, they were unable to create the big third down stop to keep the Red Raiders from moving the ball, and eventually, burning up the clock. The best chance the Wildcats had was when they cut the lead to 38-31 early in the fourth quarter. When Texas Tech got the ball back, Potts put together a 10 play, 69 yard touchdown drive that temporarily deflated the Northwestern sideline. Were it not for Jordan Mabin's pick-six two minutes later, the final result could have been much worse for the Wildcats. GRADE: F
Coaching: Preparing for Texas Tech team was a challenge for Patrick Fitzgerald and the Northwestern coaching staff, particularly on offense without Persa or Trumpy. Luckily, they had plenty of time to put together the scheme for Colter and Watkins. The Wildcat-esque package they ran was not anything groundbreaking, but it was good enough to create some quick scores to give Northwestern a chance at the end of the game. GRADE: B-
FINAL GRADE: Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since 1949, and for a moment in the second half it looked like this COULD be their triumphant moment. But no Persa and no Trumpy really hurt the Wildcats in the first half, falling into a deficit that was just too much to overcome. For Taylor Potts, it was good to see him air it out one last time. Not often this season has he gotten to complete 40+ passes now that Mike Leach's Air Raid offense is gone. At halftime, this snoozer was an F. But thanks to a furious comeback by the Wildcats, the game ended up being quite entertaining. GRADE: C+
Posted on: December 31, 2010 11:36 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Why to watch: Why, Northwestern is playing in the Cotton Bowl for the first time in the program's history! Sure, by that we're referring to the venue and not the bowl game itself (that's in Cowboys Stadium) but this is Northwestern's first game in Dallas, period. Isn't that enough? Doesn't history mean anything to you? Of course, it would be nice if Dan Persa -- the man who almost single-handedly put Northwestern in the postseason to begin with -- were healthy and able to play, but a fully Persa'd Northwestern team wouldn't have slid all the way to the TicketCity Bowl. As for Texas Tech , the nation can witness Tommy Tuberville and his neutered, lobotomized version of Mike Leach 's Air Raid offense. That won't be fun, per se, but not every play's a comedy.
Keys to victory for Northwestern: The Wildcats lost a lot when Dan Persa ruptured his Achilles' tendon, but heart appears to be the chief missing ingredient. Even though Persa never played a snap of defense (to the best of our knowledge anyway but you really can't rule this out), when he was out, Northwestern began giving up points in bunches. Illinois roughed the Cats up to the tune of 48 points at Wrigley Field, then Wisconsin rolled up 70 points in three quarters -- the fourth was nothing but random Wisconsin students from the crowd taking snaps on first down, then the Badgers punting on second down out of pity. If Northwestern wants even a fighting chance, it'll need to get its mojo back first. That means Evan Watkins will need to put together a good game under center, and tailback Mike Trumpy will probably have to get 100 yards or close to it just to keep the Northwestern defense off the field. Also, not giving up like 50 points would be ideal.
Keys to victory for Texas Tech: Obviously, step one is getting Taylor Potts off and running (or throwing, anyway); Potts is something of a relic of a bygone era considering his upbringing in the Leach offense, but he still threw nearly 500 times for 31 scores this year. Most of those scores went to Lyle Leong , who is downright lethal in the red zone: 13 of his 17 touchdown catches came in the red zone, with three more coming within 26 yards. MORE OF THAT PLEASE, obviously, but if Northwestern sells out to limit Leong's availability like Oklahoma , Oklahoma State , and Texas all did (all Tech losses), Potts is going to have to figure out how to spread the wealth successfully between the 20s and in the red zone. He did that against Baylor, so it's not as if this is an impossible task.
The TicketCity Bowl is like: Church. You may not enjoy it, but that's not the point and it never was to begin with. This is the first game of the New Year, kicking off at noon on the East Coast and in the morning everywhere else in the States, so odds are that most people watching the game are going to be wishing they were still in bed. Ah, but this is the institution you worship, this combat on this sacred acre of grass, and if anything's going to drag you out of bed with a brain still spitting up champagne and gasping for air, this is it. Get up, get in your seat, and get back to the real world as you watch the first snap of 2011.