UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Da'Leon Ward looked good, defense might not be a lost cause

Red Raiders running back Da'Leon Ward (21) rushes agains the Mississippi Rebels in the third quarter at NRG Stadium.Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss ripped Tech for big plays in win, but there were some highlights for the Raiders.

Coaches and players say that nothing’s ever as good as it looked live when they watch the film nor is anything ever as bad as it felt in the moment. With that in mind, now that 24 hours have passed since the Red Raiders’ 47-27 loss to Ole Miss, here are three things to think about.

-- Texas Tech’s defense gave up too many big plays. The Rebels scored on a 58-yard pass right off the bat then had another 34-yard TD through the air early in the fourth quarter. Mississippi also had touchdown runs of 39 and 65 yards.

While the Red Raiders’ defense wasn’t good and they still have work to do to change their reputation, it’s not necessarily a return to the days when opponents sliced through Texas Tech’s D like a hot knife through butter. The Red Raiders had a pair of sacks and six tackles for losses. Take out Mississippi’s long TD runs and Texas Tech gave up just 104 yards on 26 carries.

In the past, opponents easily ran for first downs or found huge holes in the secondary to complete wide-open passes. That’s not what happened on Saturday. Texas Tech stopped the Rebels on nine of 13 third down attempts and the Red Raiders won both the first down and time of possession categories.

-- Da’Leon Ward looked really good. He rushed for 90 yards on 17 carries, 5.3 per attempt against an SEC defense. I think we’re going to see Ward break some big runs and have a monster game really soon.

Tre King was solid as well. In fact, he sparked the Red Raiders’ first scoring drive of the second half when he ran with a ton of energy and gained 15 yards on the first two plays of the march, getting the offense out of a hole at its own 12.

-- Clayton Hatfield kicked with authority. He made field goals of 25 and 41 yards and none of his kicks left any doubt that the ball was going right down the middle with plenty of leg. After last season’s woes in the FG department, Hatfield’s effort in the season-opener was a much-needed confidence booster.

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