The Texas Tech Red Raiders were dismantled by Kansas St. and Collin Klein, 55-24.
THE RESULT | WELL THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY | What started off just fine turned into something ugly incredibly quickly. Kansas St. is a really good football team so I'm not incredibly upset about this loss. I believed that this team was not as good as Kansas St. before this game started and now I know that this is true. If I had to boil this game down to one thing, it was the turnovers and turnovers will kill a team when they play a team like Kansas St. and Collin Klein, who just doesn't turn the ball over. Kansas St. created 3 turnovers and Texas Tech really wasn't close to creating any turnovers. Two of those turnovers led to the K-State offense starting inside their own 20 yard line and scoring relatively easily. They just put too much pressure on themselves and by the time it was all said and done, the defense couldn't contain Klein, but no one has been able to contain Klein all season long. I still think that Texas Tech is a top-25 or 30 team this year, but they're not on the level of Kansas St.
YOU CAN ONLY PICK ONE | We talked about it this week, that you really have to choose between stopping Klein running the ball or you have to stop the pass and Klein didn't give you any options because he's better at both than he was last year. Klein was able to find the gaps in the secondary and the secondary was running a bit trying to catch up. They just weren't prepared for what Klein does and that's not a knock on them. There are six other team and most likely 4 more that won't be prepared either. This team is destined to play for something major this year and that is largely because Klein is a special player that is doing special things. He is also making playing football look incredibly easy and as a fan of the game, it's frustrating to watch a guy stutter-step his way through a defensive line, linebackers and secondary completely untouched. This is, unfortunately, normal.
NOTHING OVER THE TOP | Other than a long Eric Ward touchdown reception in the first quarter, there was nothing that was completed over the top. K-State plays mainly a cover-2 and they were scheming so that they would be fine giving up the short stuff, but not the big play. They did this pretty much the entire day. K-State tackled well in space and never let the Texas Tech receivers shake loose. This isn't going to happen against most teams and most teams are not going to be as disciplined. This is where the loss of Javon Bell, Bradley Marquez and even Jace Amaro plays a part in this equation. Of those three players, Amaro was actually averaging the most yards per catch, an astounding 17 yards a catch. As good and dependable as guys like Alex Torres and Austin Zouzalik are, they don't create match-up problems like Bell, Marquez and Amaro would have. This maybe would have put K-State in somewhat of a bind because just like you have to choose in how to stop Klein, if those guys are here, then the opposing defense also has to make a decision. The easy decision for all future games will be to keep the receivers in front of them and you'll see a lot of cover-2 from this point forward. Game on Neal Brown.
DEFENSE IS STARTING TO WEAR DOWN | I think after the defense played admirable for the better part of the season, there are cracks and players out of place and things are starting to look bad. I have to remind myself that K-State and Klein are gifted offensive players in a certain way, but this defense is starting to crack a bit under the pressure of the Big 12 offenses. In some sense, that's to be expected. This is the best offensive conference and K-State was averaging 235 yards rushing a game before yesterday. Like I said, they are very good, but the defense needs to re-group quickly. I thought that the linebackers played better than they did against TCU, but weren't anything to write home about. I thought the line played better than against TCU, but still gave up 200 yards rushing. The secondary is accustomed to having more help and they were exposed a bit, especially with CB Cornelius Douglas and NB Tre' Porter out of the game. That's two pretty big losses for a team that struggled in coverage today and that hurts the pass-rush and affects everything else up front. I don't think it would have made up the 30 point difference, but it would have maybe been a bit closer.
ONE MORE GAME IN THE MEAT GRINDER | Before the season started, I circled the month of October and the first game of November as an incredibly tough stretch of games: Oklahoma, West Virginia, @TCU, @Kansas St. and Texas. I was pretty sure that Texas Tech was only going to win 1 of those games before the season started, which is why I predicted a 7 win season. I would have been okay with winning 2 of those games, I would have been happy with winning 3 of those games and I would have been ecstatic with winning 4 of those games. That meat grinder of October and the first part of November ends next week hosting Texas. Despite West Virginia mainly being a paper-tiger, this team has, I think, played above their head for the past four weeks or so and the staff has gotten just about as much out of them as could reasonably expect. Now, Tuberville and staff needs to squeeze as many wins as they can out of the remaining schedule of four teams. Texas will be at home for the next two games, after being on the road on consecutive weeks, facing Texas and Kansas. That will help the process and will travel to face a dangerous Oklahoma St. team and play Baylor in Dallas.
END OF THE FIRST HALF | I almost forgot to write about the end of the first half as I didn't think that I really needed to talk about not risking a turnover before the end of the half. The last drive of the first half started with Texas Tech starting at their own 9 yard line due to a bad kickoff return. I've been writing this for a while, but Tuberville is generally about risk-management and I'm not necessarily defending it, but telling you that I understand the concept of not getting even further behind the eight-ball and being on the road and only down by 3. I get that. I also get wanting to push the envelope, but that's just not who Tuberville is and I think that if I were in the same situation, I would have probably done the same thing. I saw a comment in the game thread saying that Leach would have gone for it, and that's maybe true, but I think the myth of Leach is somewhat forever grained in our minds and that he would have gone for it every single time and he always said eff-it no matter what. That's not really entirely true, even with a Washington St. team where he could literally just not care in his first year as he really has nothing to lose, he's right about in the middle as he's punted the ball 40 times this year, about 5 times a game. He has gone for it quite a bit on 4th down, but if the question is whether or not it's a bad idea to live to fight another day, then maybe it isn't just the worst idea to live to fight another day. Texas Tech has a better team right now so it's not a fair comparison, but has only punted 23 times through yesterday and is near the bottom in terms of actual punts attempted this year.
- I will be really, really happy when Amaro, Douglas and Porter return completely healthy. I hope it is this week.
- From what I could tell, it looked like Eugene Neboh may had done something to his right hand, maybe his pinky finger. Hope it isn't serious.
- It wasn't by much, but K-State won the time of possession battle, 30:34 to 29:26.
- K-State scored on 9 consecutive possessions after punting for the second time during the game.
- Damn those turnovers. *FOR SOME REASON SHAKES FIST AT SUN*
- Every week I am hopeful that Eric Stephens breaks out and has a huge game because I really want him to play in the NFL and I don't know why I feel that way other than because he seems like a good guy. I'm still hopeful of that, but now I don't know if this will happen. I'm going to hope this every week.
- Not being able to muster much of a pass rush is going to be problematic at some point, but only 1 sack for the entire game and no official quarterback hurries. Klein had a lot of time to survey the field. I don't know how this gets better other than guys just maturing.