Losing any game is tough. Dropping a game near the end of a season like this is especially so, with so many big things in your sights. It would be easy to feel disappointment and crawl back home, convinced we don't belong at the Big Boy table. Baloney. That is what OU and Texas expect of Texas Tech, and we should have enough West Texas grit to refuse to give it to them.
There's a saying in live theatre: A bad dress rehearsal means a good performance. It makes you focus. On Saturday, we saw a painful display of the corollary: a great dress rehearsal can lead to a terrible performance. You get complacent. You lose focus. Bad things happen.
Texas Tech's dress rehearsal was 2 weeks ago versus Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State is a much better team than they showed two weeks ago, just as Tech was a much better team than they showed this Saturday. Don't under estimate the effect that playing a near flawless game against the #9 team had on the minds of a bunch of 18-23 year old men. The off week did not help us this time. The college game is cyclical. It is tough to stay at your peak week-in and week-out. This Saturday was a learning experience for Tech. It was the first time EVER that Tech has been in that kind of a game situation. They played like deer in the headlights. This team can play against OU. They beat them in 2007. The biggest difference was that the stakes were not as high. We cracked under the pressure. We've gotten it out of our system. Our coaches won't let it happen again.
We are staring an 11-1 regular season in the face. That is a great season no matter who you are. There is still a chance that Tech will play in the Big XII championship game and possibly a BCS bowl. At a minimum, the Cotton bowl. Playing in Dallas is never a bad thing. Especially for recruiting.
The thing about Evolution is that it is continuous. It doesn't care if there are setbacks, roadblocks, or nay-sayers. When evolution is taking place, it finds a way to continue. We are still evolving.
Some people think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Tech. I think it is a first in a lifetime. The sun is not setting, it is rising. Year after year, Tech has been able to reload on offense and play at very high levels. Although Crabtree is a rare talent that we are likely going to lose to the NFL (though I would love for him to stay, he would be crazy not to go) and Harrell's 3 years of experience will be difficult to replace, the overall level of talent at our skill positions is much better than it has ever been.
The last time we replaced a multi-year starter at QB, it was Kliff Kingsbury. His replacement was B.J. Symons, a guy with a cannon for an arm that brought the ability to stretch the field. Stretching the field is important in Leach's offense because it creates more space. While Harrell has adequate arm strength, I think there is no question that the heir apparent (Potts) has a significant advantage in that department.
Woods graduates, but Baron Batch will return next year and will be the #1 back. I'm sure Crawford will split time, but Batch will be the go-to guy. How exciting is that?
Morris is the only graduating receiver. Say what?
Our entire defensive line returns.
Our entire linebacking corps returns. Though they have struggled at times this year, the group is mostly sophomores, and they will be much better with a year of experience under their belts.
Though we are graduating 2 starting safeties, we keep Wall and Nickerson at corner. We have spent some recruiting capital on defense, and our underclassmen in the defensive secondary are bigger and more athletic than we have had in the past.
We have at least 2 games left in our season. One against an improving Baylor team and a bowl game. With our record, whomever we play will not be a slouch. We may end up playing in a BCS bowl. Looking ahead to next year, we will have another chance for another Tech first: back-to-back 10 win seasons. We have no reason to expect any less. After that, who knows? In the Big XII south, we will always face Texas and Oklahoma. We have beaten each of them in the past 2 seasons. We had the "Tiger slam" of college football in that we beat both in a 12 game stretch. The next step will be beating both in the same season. It wasn't this year, but it is on the horizon. We have earned the right to be taken seriously. We have pulled our chair up to the table. And regardless of what fans on other sites may be saying, we're here to stay.