I'm not going to do the typical write-up for the game or link to all of the game stories. There's just too many and there's not enough time.
Putting Faces With Names:
I had the fortune of meeting both kayakyakr and djollie111 before the game and it was great to put faces with names. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to meet anyone else, but one of my goals this next football season is to have a much more organized meeting of DTN'ers. I intend on going to the spring game and hopefully we can all get together before a game next fall. More than anything I want to have the opportunity to personally thank each and every one of you for reading and to shake your hand. We'll get it done.
Perhaps me being tired is more a direct correlation between me blogging about my team and the emotional highs and lows that go along with being a fan. I have this prevailing thought that it affects me because, I feel like I have to have something to say, whether it be good or bad about any particular game or event. I realize that this comes with the territory of being a blogger and I'm certainly not complaining (I love what I do), but sometimes this can be hard.
Yesterday afternoon/last night, I was tired. I got home after the game, heated up some leftovers in the microwave for dinner, and fell asleep. Perhaps is was the combination of beer, cold medicine and a full belly, but I just crashed, probably around 7:30 p.m. I didn't check the computer or the live game thread or look at any post game thoughts I was simply exhausted.
I don't know if my need to go to sleep is any sort of metaphor for the entire season, but quite frankly, the 2008 football season has been incredibly tough personally and as a blogger, but also incredibly rewarding. As a result of Texas Tech's continued success throughout the year, I spent more and more time on the computer, which meant that I spent less and less time with my wife. Don't worry, we're totally cool and she likes what I do, but she did comment as I was nodding off last night:
"I'm glad for you that the season is over."
The Game Experience:
I'm pulling back the curtain a bit, but my normal game-watching partners are my brother-in-law, Justin, and his friend from Texas Tech, Brandon. When we first figured out that Texas Tech was headed to the Cotton Bowl, Justin and Brandon decided that we were not going to buy tickets, but rather buy tickets outside of the stadium after the game was started. For those of you who know me, I'm a pretty nervous individual, so I naturally said that I was nervous about doing this, but that I would go along with the idea.
We waited until 1:00 p.m. until we decided to even walk to the stadium and found a three tickets together in section 104, but the guy wanted $60.00 a ticket. Not good enough. We had almost made an entire lap around the stadium, and we missed the first Texas Tech touchdown when we happened upon a guy selling three tickets together for $125.00 a ticket in section 4, 30 yard line, row 17. We told him that we'd buy them for $100.00, he offered $110.00. Again, $100.00. Sold. We saw the second Texas Tech touchdown on replay right as we were walking into the stadium.
Right In Middle of the Ole Miss Fans:
As a result of sitting in section 4, we were right in the middle of Ole Miss country and I've got nothing but good things to say about the guys sitting in front of us who were cheering hard for their team and not giving us a hard time about the loss. Sure, there was some trash-talking behind us, but that's part of life as a fan. Sometimes you're on the winning side and sometimes you're on the losing side.
I was really impressed with Ole Miss, I thought they looked tremendous on both sides of the ball. I thought it was going to be a back-and-forth affair because I was pretty confident that the Ole Miss offense was better than what most people thought (I predicted they would score 35 points) and I was still unsure about Texas Tech's defense in stopping a running team like Ole Miss. The Texas Tech offense couldn't figure out until late in the second half that the slant was a really nice option because Ole Miss seemed to be covering the deep routes and sideline routes really well. I just wish that Harrell/Leach would have figured this out sooner.
"Michael Crabtree is like Michael Irvin in terms of work ethic and talent,'' says Paco, who makes no secret of his assumption that Crabtree is going pro. "But there is a big difference: Michael Crabtree doesn't go out, doesn't drink, does do that, you know, 'social' stuff that Michael Irvin did. Crabtree doesn't have those flaws or those demons.''
We wish you well Michael and as a Texas Tech fan, I thank you for your services. You have been an absolute pleasure to watch for two years. I'll only say one other thing and I'm saying this not as an attorney or as a blogger for Texas Tech, but more or less as a person who has seen similar situations in life: be short with your leash on who you trust (just ask Mike Modano), have some checks and balances with who has control over your money, and educate yourself about investments, estate planning, etc.
Losing starting right tackle Marlon Winn, safety Darcel McBath, cornerback Jamar Wall and not even having L.A. Reed available really took it's toll on the team. I'm not making excuses, please don't think that, but losing those guys made a huge difference in the way this team performed. If anything, this speaks to the fact that this still isn't a deep program. We're working on it, but there's still a ways to go.
Fourth and Four:
Q. Graham's 4th and 4 quarterback sneak could you take us through that call? I don't know how much you paid attention to the defensive side, but seemed like you had a lot of missed tackles is that how you saw it?
COACH LEACH: It's the ultimate doing your job the most important thing you do on defensive is tackle and offense is block. There ain't nothing different about all that. The 4th and 4 call we weren't on the same page. He thought I wanted one thing and I thought I wanted another. And so miscommunication.
Q. What did you want? It's obvious.
COACH LEACH: I'm going to leave that one for the ages. It's not one where either of us are proud of, I guarantee you.
Q. Back on that 4th and 4 play, what was the thinking, your thinking about going for it at that point?
COACH LEACH: We weren't going to go for it, we were hoping to draw them off sides. I didn't do a good job communicating it. He thought something different and off we went. It was a very bonehead play. If I wanted a different result I have to communicate it better.
Rotating the Second Units:
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about watching the game was seeing players in the game that had not been effective all year. There's no doubt that Jake Ratliff and Sandy Riley are good Red Raiders, but when Ruffin McNeill is playing these two guys because he wants to rotate his players, there's a problem. And it's not just these two guys, it's the two deep across the board. I'm sure that McNeill sees the same thing that we see, in that there's okay talent in the second group, but not enough talent that they need to be on the field for entire series as we're trying to stop Ole Miss. I wish I could specificlly remember which drives they were, but I recall seeing second unit guys out there and it was incredibly frustrating.
There's an obvious difference in talent between any team's starting unit and the backups, and playing the second unit can work against some teams, but not in a bowl game and not against a physical Ole Miss team. For McNeill, I think he's going to have to make a decision next year as to how he's going to run his defense. I know that the front line only loses Ratliff, and the idea of rotating players is nice, but there needs to be a little bit more reason to play the second unit than what we've seen thus far. As much as McNeill would like to rotate players, it may not be possible to do for such long stretches during games and he may have to do it piece-meal, rather than the wholesale substitutions we saw yesterday.
Where to begin. There are some talented players leaving the friendly confines of Lubbock and after watching the defense without Darcel McBath for a good part of the game, I'm worried about the secondary next year. I'm going to stay positive but there are some mighty big shoes to fill and I'm going to start saying my nightly prayers that safety Steven Harris gets back on the team and there's someone that can step up in that second corner position.
Wrapping It Up:
I think I still need a few days to digest everything, a few days to take off from football and not have any sort of emotional investment in any game is going to be nice for a change.
Bottom line is that I'm proud of this team, and to echo kayakyakr's sentiments there's a lot of positive things going on at Texas Tech with this football program.
Are there some negatives as well? You bet. There are negatives with just about everything in life, but I like where things are headed.
As I look back at what I've just written, I haven't even mentioned the offense other than Crabtree probably leaving for the NFL. We'll get to all of it.
This has been a record breaking year for Double-T Nation and I owe a huge part of this success to the success on the football field and another huge part to you guys who come back every day for information about Texas Tech.
I was mentioning to djollie111 over breakfast yesterday that the biggest reason as to why I started DTN was because I didn't feel like I should have to pay for information about my team. I still am not a subscriber to either RRS.com or to RP.com and although they do a great job and I'm sure that I could afford the $10.00 a month to follow my team, I've always wanted to provide a different, more-free, outlet for myself and for other people looking for some Texas Tech fellowship.
I hope you stick with DTN through basketball and baseball season. We'll try to have some fun one way or another.