1. The thing that's jumped out at me this year is the lack of turnovers from last year to this year. Can you give an explanation as to why?
Turnovers are small part preparation, large part luck/opportunity, and that part comes first. I think teams are better prepared to protect the ball when it comes to fumbles. Interceptions depend on poor decisions/throws, being in the right place at the right time, AND catching the ball. OSU defenders have dropped at least 4 easy interceptions this year. Combine that with DB's who have struggled in coverage up to this point. For me, the bigger, and more important, picture with this is the turnover battle. Iowa State is tied for the 2nd most TO's in conference play, yet the defense has collected the 2nd most TO's, giving them a +0.43 margin per game. TCU, on the other hand, has collected the 3rd most TO's, but has given the ball away the most in the Big 12, resulting in a -0.71 margin. If OSU's offense wasn't giving away 2 TO's per game, then the lack of production on the defensive side wouldn't be such an issue, and we would likely be undefeated or just 1 loss.
2. Can you describe Todd Monken's offensive philosophy? I think a lot of people still give credit, and perhaps rightfully so, to Holgorsen, but I'm sure that Monken is his own person and would love to know as to his own style of the offense?
Monken's philosophy, in a phrase? "Fuck it." That being said, he can be a complete chicken shit sometimes. He has had a tendency to be too timid with the offense, either due to field position, or lack of trust in the QB situation, or both. While we like to get on his play calling sometimes, we forget that much of what goes on at the snap is determined by the QB's read, so a lot of what we don't like is probably more on Lunt/Walsh/Chelf than him. He has bought into Gundy's philosophy of balance, relative to an offense that is designed for pitching it all over the field. He has definitely taken Holgorsen's system and tweaked it to his liking, and to fit OSU's personnel. While Holgs preferred the dink and dunk more, Monken likes him some vertical offense, which is why OSU is 2nd in the Big 12 in yards per catch:
10- Iowa St...10.4
We love him in Stillwater, and he is a quote parade waiting for an opportunity. The disappointing thing now is that he has cleaned up his "media" language too much. No more "bleeped" f-bombs. That sucks.
3. Is Eskimo Joe's really that great or is this the place to go because everyone goes there? What are some other options in Stillwater for Texas Tech fans?
YES, but you could have a really hard time getting in depending on what time you get there. Here is a collection of recommendations and advice culled from previous answers to this common inquiry:
Tailgating…best part is on south side of stadium. Great hospitality.
WALKING DISTANCE TO STADIUM
Closest to stadium…east side of campus, south and east of stadium, mostly bar scene, get food elsewhere
• Eskimo Joe’s…cheese fries are world class, food decent, but hell to get in
• Stables…across the street from Joe’s
• The Stonewall…around the corner from Joe’s, across the street from campus
Student Union…south of stadium
• Ranchers Club…pricey, but good steak…and a dress code
The "Strip"…south of campus (south of SU) a few blocks from Theta Pond
• Copper Penny…Limey’s are deadly
• Willies…decent sports viewing
• College Bar
• JR Murphy’s…good place to watch sports
• Dirty’s Tavern
• Fuzzy’s Tacos…show 4 ID’s and get a fishbowl of alcohol
East of stadium, intersection of North Main and Hall of Fame Ave
• Old School Bagel
• Shortcakes…not highly recommended
NEED TRANSPORTATION TO PARKING/STADIUM
Downtown…southeast of campus…intersection of South Main and West 6th Ave. If you can park down there, shuttles go to campus. Not many cabs around town, so plan accordingly.
• Thai Café…NW of this intersection on South Husband
• Aspen Coffee…West 7th just west of S Main
• Louie’s Grill and Bar
• Finnegan’s Pub
North Perkins Rd…Rt 177…north side of town
• Buffalo Wild Wings…are the best places to watch sports
North Boomer Rd…north of downtown and Stillwater HS
• El Tapatio…greasy but good Mexican
• Kyoto…good sushi
4. What's your feeling on the state of the defense? I think the general perception is that both offenses are really good, but the defenses are suspect.
OSU's front seven might be the best you face this season. Barnett and Castleman anchor a good line, and the LB's are built for defending spread offenses. The problem is the back 4 are NOT in that conversation. Justin Gilbert and Broderick Brown have been huge disappointments, although we saw a few flashes of Gilbert's upside for the first time this year against WV. Shamiel Gary and Daytownion Low have definitely improved, but several opponents have beaten this unit deep, and have missed numerous other opportunities where the receiver was running wide open. Overall they are better than last season, except for the lack of turnovers, but as I said in my offensive preview of Tech, the Cowboys have benefited somewhat by facing the least productive "yardage" offenses in the conference up to this point. I will be shocked if you guys don't test, and have some success, throwing deep.
5. Talk about a couple of the skill position players on both sides of the ball that you think will have a significant impact on the game (you can exclude the OSU's quarterback as it's been good no matter who is playing).
Ok, minus the QB (and that's going to be Chelf), Randle/Smith at RB and Stewart/C. Moore/Jackson at WR. Randle has been a workhorse given some injuries that limited Smith's time, but Smith is now rounding back into shape and it showed against WV towards the end of the game. Those two make for a very good 1-2 combination. Josh Stewart has emerged as this season's Ryan Broyles...great at finding space and hard to tackle in the open field, and they are starting to give him the ball on sweeps and reverses. The QB's have definitely gotten tuned into him. Charlie Moore has been dependable on the outside, and Blake Jackson is our version of Jace Amaro. If he brings his hands to the game, expect him to hurt Tech with at least 1 or 2 25+ yard catches. OSU has been hurt by injury at this position, and a couple of freshman have stepped up...Austin Hays and Blake Webb...and both have caught some deep balls.
On the other side, I previously mentioned Barnett and Castleman on the line, but the linebackers will be everywhere. Alex Elkins and Lyndell Johnson are really fast, and Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey are tremendous against the run. Elkins and Johnson reeked havoc on WV's jet sweeps and bubble screens. While being suspect against the deep ball, the DB's are good against the run and generally tackle well in the short passing game, limiting YAC (Gilbert again being the exception).
As I said in my preview, I think the our defense will do a better job than its counterpart of slowing down the opposing offense, so I'm making the predictable "homer" pick of 42-24, OSU.