SBN Box Score :: TTU Box Score :: Post Game Quotes : Mike Leach and Players
The Result :: So Sweet: I had not even considered a blowout on the Texas Tech side of the ledger. It seemed to me that such a result was truly inconceivable, considering all of the factors that have caused this season to be somewhat of a disappointment were virtually non-existent for most, if not all of this game. Huge props goes to the Texas Tech defense who just out-hit the Sooner offense on Saturday. I get the feeling that they were not expecting the type of athlete and player that was on the field on Saturday.
And I've probably missed a ton of storylines, so help a brother out and give me your storyline from Saturday's win. Follow me after the jump for storylines on the game, including my crazy theory as to why Leach had a player going in motion for quite a bit of the game.
The Storylines ::
Going in Motion: I really will need to go back and look at the tape of the game, but it seemed to me that the Texas Tech offense was running a receiver in motion quite a bit during the game, except for formations where the Red Raiders had a 2-RB set. Football 101 says that one of the main reasons why you send a man in motion is to give the offense a clue as to whether or not the defense is in zone or man. When Texas Tech wasn't sending a man in motion, I thought that the 2-RB set received quite a bit of burn.
The basic premise here is that I think Leach wanted to make it as easy on QB Taylor Potts as possible. He wanted to make it as easy on "Nick" to make the right decision, which I believe he did, for most of the game. And on 53 attempts, Potts had one interception, all game long he took what the defense gave him, pushed the ball down the field, took some chances and played a helluva game.
And on a personal side, I love the fact that Potts had success against a big opponent. All of the comments about how Potts doesn't celebrate or know how to have fun didn't hold water yesterday as he seemed to be leading the charge. There's no doubt that Potts hasn't been perfect this year, but if you give him some time in the pocket, he can do some things.
"I’ve heard the fans boo him. I’ve heard people say get him out of there,’’ running back Baron Batch said. "It takes a tough, tough, tough person to be able to withstand all that and come out of that on top, and that’s what he’s done. I’m so proud of him for that. I don’t know how I would have responded in that situation. I don’t know how a lot of people would have responded. But he’s shown he’s mentally tough and he has a lot of heart."
O-Line and Running Backs: I don't know how you separate the two, especially in this game. The line certainly had their problems, especially late in the second half where the OU defense were bringing more than what the Texas Tech offense could hold (I think this was just after playing "Jump Around"). But there's no reason to criticize the offensive line this game. Potts was only sacked twice for the entire game and I cannot remember any negative plays for the running backs. There were two plays that stood out to me, which was RB Baron Batch first touchdown. LT Chris Olson had a tremendous block, blowing out the OU defender and the rest of the offensive line, including LG Lonnie Edwards completely caved in the rest of the OU defensive line. Batch walks into the endzone untouched. That play doesn't happen without Olson taking his man out of the play entirely.
The second play is RB Eric Stephen's touchdown that put Texas Tech up 40 to 13 and Stephens ran right between RT Marlon Winn and RG Brandon Carter for an easy score. Winn had this to say after the game about that run:
Asked about what memory he’ll take from senior day, tackle Marlon Winn said, "Just that last drive, that last touchdown. Stephens comes in, and he runs it between me and (guard) Brandon Carter.
"We worked hard for five years, and for that to be the last play in the Jones our senior year, it was amazing. Great thing.’’
Touching Gesture: I feel comfortable enough with you guys to let you know that I almost shed a man tear when it was known that DE Rajon Henley would not be wearing his traditional number, but instead wore #40 in honor of DB Nathan Stone, a walk-on from Lubbock, who worked his way up the depth chart to see significant time early this season. Stone's season ended early with an undiclosed neck injury and although I don't know all of the details, I have heard that Stone is fine, but will never be able to play football again. You could call it a silly gesture, but I take great pride in the type of men that this Texas Tech football program produces. There will always be some bad apples, but there's a ton of solid citizens amongst this group. WR Alexander Torres and DE Brandon Sharpe had this to say about this after the game:
BRANDON SHARPE: That's real nice, you know. Somebody else was supposed to wear Sandy Riley's jersey. But I think it was a late time to ask for it and stuff but it was really an inspiration, you know, just to see him have a heart like that. To share his playing time with another playing on the team. You saw how close we can be, and we are.
ALEX TORRES: Like he said, it's one of those things that it's great to see that out there. And I know Nate appreciates it. It kind of goes to show what a family we are as a team and how much we care about one another to be able to give them a shot to see his jersey out there one last time on Senior Day and everything. I thought it was really uplifting, and I hope Nate appreciated that, which I'm sure he does.
Here's Your Run Stuffing Defense: Seriously. 26 carries and 48 yards. Sure, that figure includes 3 sacks for 30 yards, but son of a gun, that Texas Tech front 7 was simply outstanding. This may have been as well-rounded an effort as you'll see. To say that the front 7 dominated on Saturday would be an understatement. The defensive line did a tremendous job of holding their blocks to allow the linebackers to make tackles, as LB Brian Duncan led the team with 6 tackles and LB Marlon Williams had 5 tackles, including 1 TFL. The pressure that DE's Brandon Sharpe, Daniel Howard and Rajon Henley brought all game was tremendous, although I think that to not give credit to the tackles would be a mistake in this game. DT's Colby Whitlock and Richard Jones played big and I think Jones goes unnoticed sometimes, but he's as solid a defensive tackle that you'll see.
And although the defense will lose these pass-rushers mentioned above, I think it's interesting to see Sharpe talk about the fact that he essentially played one year, and with a little hard work, dedication, he's in a position to break the single-season sack record:
Oh, shoot, it means a lot, you know. I mean, hopefully I can finish up with a little bit more, break it and keep going with it and stuff for these last few games we've got. I hope to have my name sitting here with the sack list and stuff. So the people that's coming in next year are going to look forward to having something to do, something to work for, you know.
Torres Big Day: I've secretly had my doubts as to whether or not WR Alexander Torres could have a big day. Torres finished the day with 10 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown. Torres replaced Crabtree and I've wondered whether or not Torres could effectively replace the play-making ability of Crabtree. And that's an incredibly tough thing to do. I thought during the game that as a fanbase, we certainly give Graham Harrell quiet a bit of credit for the work he did last year, but Harrell also had the luxury of having the absolute best wide receiver in the country for 2 years running. I was trying to remember the last time that I saw a wide-receiver slant for a touchdown, something that Red Raider fans saw so frequently last year. The offense has and will be fine, but there was something special about the offense the past 2 seasons and that's a tough thing to have to remember life before Crabtree. Under previous years, it was guys like Torres who were making big plays out of seemingly nothing. Torres huge 65 yard receiption was all Torres. It was Torres knowing that the defensive back was overplaying the ball, that Torres didn't have anyone behind him and if he could quickly turn the route up field, he'd have a huge play. That's exactly what happened. I'm impressed and surprised that Torres has been a spokesperson for the offensive side of the team for a good part of the season. Leach hand-picks these guys and although Torres is merely a redshirt freshman, he knows exactly what to say:
Yeah, that whole play just happened to be a great check by pots. He gave me a quick route that told me to get my head around real fast. And like I do in practice and Coach Leach preaches all the time, the receivers coach, Lincoln and Dennis preach all the time. Catch the ball, turn and go straight up field. That's all I did. It wasn't really a special play on my part. All I did was do what I've been coached to to do. It was just a great check by Potts being able to see the defense and read that.
Passing Spikes: It was tremendous to see former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes honored the way that he was. The day could not have been better for Dykes and I'm of the opinion that all that Dykes would love to see, whether it's breaking his all-time wins record at Texas Tech or some other significant event, would be for the Red Raiders to win. Dykes is as humble, gracious and conversational as they come and it's a shame that he's not in the limelight more than he is. Dykes probably wants it that way and I can certainly appreciate that. Leach didn't get choked up like he did after the Kansas game, but he knows the importance of Dykes to himself and to the program:
It means a lot. We've kind of hashed over it a little bit. Got the opportunity to see Coach Dykes in the locker room. One of the greatest coaches of all time in my opinion, and who really was instrumental in building this program and being a part of his legacy is a real honor for me.
Defensive Takeaways: I found the statistic that Texas Tech has the nation's longest takeaway streak at 26 (or 28, I can't remember) and it's no coincidence that Ruffin McNeill has been in charge of the defense for 31 games. This is a short storyline, but it's a shout-out to McNeill and the job he's done. I always get the feeling that McNeill knows exactly how he wants to play, but he's got to have the players to do it first. Give him time and I think he's going to be pretty damned good.
The Offensive Co-MVP's :: QB Taylor Potts and RB Baron Batch: You could probably have quite a few candidates and not be wrong for an MVP, but the way that Potts threw the ball (35-53 : 388 yards : 1 INT : 2 TD) and the way that Batch ran and caught the ball (25 carries : 136 yards : 2 TD // 7 receptions : 68 yards) was something special.
The Defensive Co-MVP's :: CB Jamar Wall and DE Brandon Sharpe: The pass defense again looks outstanding and lots of credit goes to both Sharpe for the pressure on the quarterback and for Wall for his pressure on receivers. Sharpe finished with 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Wall had 4 tackles, 4 passes-broken-up and 1 interception.
The Special Teams Co-MVP's :: PK Matthew Williams and Donnie Carona: Carona had 8 kickoffs and put 5 of them back for touchbacks. Texas Tech needs more of this because to not even give the offense the ability to return puts the offense in a hole. Williams is going unnoticed, me included, because he's doing his job. They were short field goals, but he made them both, along with his extra points.