THE REWIND: Alan Bowman, Red Raiders raised interesting "what ifs" in win

Red Raiders wide receiver Ja'Deion High (88) rushes after catching the ball against the Houston Cougars in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium.Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Are freshmen the QB and RB of the present and future? Is there an upside to defensive performance?

Texas Tech showed some punch in its 63-49 victory over Houston on Saturday.

The Cougars entered with highly touted defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who some have said is the best player in college football this season. They were a slight favorite to win the road game against the Power 5 Red Raiders, at least according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.

But Texas Tech’s Power 5 depth seems to have won out as the Red Raiders owned the end of both halves, claiming the second quarter 21-7 and the fourth quarter 14-7.

Oh, and Texas Tech’s freshman quarterback was pretty good too.

“Bowman missed a couple early that he usually doesn't miss, but settled in and protected the ball well, made a bunch of good decisions and got us rolling,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “It was a good game to build even more confidence going into conference as far as his progression as the QB goes.”

To guard against knee-jerk reacting to the Red Raiders’ latest turn of events, here are three factors and their glass-half-full/glass-half-empty implications.

-- Bowman’s 605-yard, 5 TD passing game.

Glass half full: Bowman kept the offense moving all day yesterday and it was essential in a no-holds-barred offensive shootout. He threw passes, particularly in the red zone, that were reminiscent of past Air Raider quarterbacks like B.J. Symons and Graham Harrell. Given that the freshman QB is just two games into his career as a starter, there appears to be a very high ceiling for him in Lubbock.

Glass half empty: Through two starts and a three-quarters relief effort versus Ole Miss, Bowman has completed 94 of 103 passes for 1,160 yards, 8 TDs and no INTs. He’s experiencing a little bit of beginners luck in fitting balls into tight windows without giving up any turnovers. The unknown factor at this point is how Bowman will respond to adversity.

-- The Red Raiders defense gave up 635 total yards in the win.

Glass half empty: The Red Raiders are surrendering yards at pre-2017 levels (Texas Tech improved by more than 100 yards per game by the time last season was complete). Houston quarterback D’Eriq King passed for 435 yards and 5 TDs, tossing touchdown passes of 57 and 79 yards to burn the Red Raiders’ secondary. The Cougars also gashed Texas Tech with RB Terence Williams’s 31-yard touchdown run. And the Red Raiders failed to recover a fumble or intercept a pass. At the end of the day, the stats sheet doesn’t suggest a much-improved defense.

Glass half full: When both offenses are moving fast and running as many plays as possible, it’s going to result in a lot of yards and, possibly, a lot of points. Houston ran 92 plays in the game, but keep in mind that in the fourth quarter — with a chance to surge for a victory — the Cougars came up with just seven points. Meanwhile, Texas Tech’s defense successfully stopped Houston nine times (6 punts and 3 failed fourth-down attempts). Plainly speaking, Texas Tech’s defense did enough to win the game.

-- Ta’Zhawn Henry rushed for 111 yards and 4 TDs.

Glass half full: The Red Raiders have found a running back they can trust with the ball for a long time into the future. Henry will likely only get better and he’s already good at finding a seam and getting through it. Da’Leon Ward and Tre King will eventually come back from early-season injuries and the Red Raiders will have outstanding depth in the backfield.

Glass half empty: It took until the second half for the Red Raiders to get Henry going. The running game hasn’t been able to create second-and-short and third-and-short situations very often in the first halves of wins over Lamar and Houston. Getting Ward back might fix that problem, or it could be that Bowman has to continue to work his magic on third-and-long.

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