Seth C: You were at the game this weekend and I'd love to hear what you thought about the game presentation and anything else that stood out to you, from tailgating to the game itself to after the game.
Travis (SARR): It was great to get back to Lubbock even though it was an incredibly short trip. Keith (yes Keith is a real live person) and I drove up on Friday night with his 4 year old and my 4 year old securely strapped into their car seats with miles and miles of DVD’s to watch. I hadn’t been to a game at the Jones since October of 2011 when A&M came in and beat us so I was anxious to get back.
My mom lives just a few miles north of town on University so we all got up at about 6:30 Saturday morning, had some breakfast and found a parking spot next to the Overton at about 8:30. We wandered around and met up with several different VTMers (Tech 77, Matador Proud, OSR, blackbeard, Remington870 and ttuvault) and had a chance to chat with everybody for a few minutes. It was so great to put a face to all the names that I’ve seen around here for years and it really helps put things in perspective. We don’t always agree but we’re all fans and people with lives and interests and again it was really great to see.
I tweeted you during the game that the atmosphere wasn’t quite like a night game but it was still impressive. I went to the UT game in 2010 and the A&M game in 2011 and both were night games. This 11am game had more excitement and electricity in the air than either of those two did, which speaks volumes about where we’re headed. I also saw a guy passed out in the bathroom which made me feel at home again, although it probably confused my son to see a pair of boots sticking out from under a stall.
The stadium improvements are outstanding. The architecture around the stadium and of course the video board are something that we can all be proud of. They’ve got a ton of interactive things going on now during time-outs which helps pass the time and the film clips they’d show on 3rd down (Gladiator, 300, etc) make you want to find a couch to get behind.
I was really impressed with Webb. He seemed to have a lot of poise and didn’t look nearly as scared as he has in the past. Sure he had some tipped passes, but they were also moving the ball seemingly at will, and he was a big part of that. Keith and the boys definitely know how to do the ANOTHER RED RAIDER FIRST DOWN! chant now because it seemed like we were yelling it every few minutes. Grant scored right in front of us, which was great to see and Amaro just looks like a man stealing candy at the playground. The defense is actually fun to watch but we’ve got to fix the special teams if we want to continue this. It was a beautiful day and I’m so glad we were able to pull the trip together.
So give me some feedback on what you saw on the broadcast. Like I said, I was very impressed with Webb but then saw a ton of comments about him not being very consistent. There are always things you miss from the stands, so what did I miss?
Seth C: The toughest thing to watch was the short fields from the turnovers, Marquez's fumble and Webb's interception. That creates real problems and Texas Tech just can't afford to be in the red on the turnover margin. I suppose that's really a football axiom more than just a microcosm of just one game. I'll try not to be cliche.
Generally speaking, I thought it was maybe the perfect game, a game where the score was closer than the game really was, which means that the coaches hopefully get to do a lot of coaching this week.
Kingsbury has already mentioned in his press conference on Monday that he's made some changes to special teams. Kingsbury didn't exactly wait around to make that change, and it's interesting, when Kingsbury is asked about an injury or something like that, he usually says that he's not sure, they haven't gotten to the practice field just yet and he would maybe have some answers by the end of the week. Well . . . by the end of the week, Kingsbury isn't granting any interviews and talking to the media so he really doesn't have to give an answer to update any injury situation. So I was a little surprised that he said on Monday that changes were made to the special teams.
The special teams has really been a group that's been really good five of six games and I do think they are playing a lot of freshmen, as a way to get those guys some reps and get them acclimated to the speed of the game, but Kingsbury doesn't strike me as a guy that's going to give anyone a long leash. If they can't do the job, then he'll find someone else that can.
Also, Kingsbury pretty much ruined my next question on Monday by saying that bye weeks don't really matter, and unless you would even dare go against Kingsbury, I'll skip that question. What do you think was the main culprit with the defense and those short fields and how was Iowa St. able to score so easily?
Travis (SARR): I think the main culprit was the fact that ISU is an improving team and have showed it the last 2 weeks versus UT and now us. Wimberley is a really talented running back and their QB seems to be progressing. He was able to find the open receiver on a lot of his throws and their running game was highly effective in the short field situations.
It seems there have been a lot of arguments on VTM this week about if we should be proud of the win over ISU or extremely worried because the score was close. I tend to take the position that the game was much more lopsided than the final score, particularly if you look at the fact that we gained twice as many yards as they did and several mistakes led to either quick scores by ISU or killed drives for us. Sure, mistakes can lead to losses, but we pulled out a win in the end.
I remember an ISU game at home several years ago (‘05 or ‘06 I guess) when Leach was really hitting his stride. After the game the radio guys were flabbergasted because Tech had gained over 700 yards in the game and were just marveling over the fact. We were one semi-big play away from 700 yards on Saturday, with a true freshman QB, and everyone seems to be in a panic.
There are certainly things to work on, but I’m happy with where we are right now and hope to really take it to WVU. So turning the page, what do you think is most critical for Tech to be able to pull out a win on Saturday? BTW, I think the 11am start time for the 3rd week in a row will actually be an advantage for Tech.
Seth C: I don't think the game plan will change all that much between Kansas and Iowa St. I was able to watch some WVU games and although Clint Trickett is a helluva tough kid, he's got issues at quarterback. He holds onto the ball way too long and he's not as efficient as I think Holgorsen wants in a quarterback. So I think that the plan is essentially going to be the same, which is make sure and keep Sims and Smith in check and make the quarterback beat you. Texas Tech has shown to be a really good rush defense, which is just the opposite last year. Last year, Texas Tech had this stellar pass defense, but the problem is that Texas Tech didn't play a passing team so the numbers were deceiving. Now, that's reversed a bit in that Texas Tech has a terrific rush defense and I think the coaching staff made it a priority to stop the run.
I think this will change a bit as the year goes on, but who else on the schedule do you decide not to sell out to stop the run? Baylor and Oklahoma St. are the only real passing teams left on the schedule, so maybe this thought of being stout up front doesn't change.
Put yourself in West Virginia's shoes and talk a bit about how you would game plan for Texas Tech. Also, what do you think that Texas Tech will do the rest of the way in terms of wins and losses?
Travis (SARR): I'm right there with you on the rush defense, but I think Baylor is going to be a difficult test. If we play for the pass all day, then Seastrunk will run it down our throats (just like he did last year). But I agree, our rush defense is putting us in a good position as we set up to close out the year with a lot of rush heavy teams.
If I'm in West Virginia right now, game planning for Tech, I'm trying to find a way to stop Amaro. New England put their best CB on Jimmy Graham last week and virtually shut him down until he got injured (correct me if I'm wrong, I was driving home but heard that discussed on the radio). I'm hoping that's not an option for WVU, but if it is then it should open up the field for Ward and Grant, which would be good good. I'd also want to rattle the young QB's with a ton of crowd noise and pressure. Offensively I'd let Trickett try to hit some deep balls and play wide open.
So now I need a shower. I'm done being WVU.
As far as finishing out the year, I really feel like we've got a shot to have a jaw dropping season. Baylor is going to be extremely tough but I can legitimately say that I think we have a chance to win every single game that remains on the schedule, and I don't think I've ever felt that way before, including 2008. The timing might be right to make a run at the Big 12 this year.
How about you? How would you game plan against Tech and how do you see the rest of the season playing out?
Seth C: You're right, New England did put their best cover corner on Amaro, but not many teams have cover corners that are like Aquib Talib (who apparently has had domestic abuse issues) and is 6-1/205 that can run and muscle up Amaro. Most cornerbacks are the size of Bruce Jones and Ola Falemi . . . tiny. Or just not very big. WVU has some decent sized cornerbacks, but if they put their best cover corner on Amaro, then that means that a cornerback that probably has their own flaws is going to have to cover Eric Ward or Bradley Marquez. That's not a good match-up either.
I had to game-plan against Texas Tech, I'd do my best to disguise coverages and confuse Webb or Mayfield. Flood the zone and do my best to have so many guys in the secondary that they just can't make good decisions. I also don't know if this is necessarily a game-plan, but the team has to do a better job of tackling in open space. It seems like Texas Tech is always breaking a big play.
Given the schedule, I think I'd be totally pumped if the team went 3-3 the rest of the way and that's me being pessimistic because I'm always pessimistic. Plus, I do think the teams in the second half of the schedule are better than the first half and at some point I think having freshmen quarterbacks will bit this team for a game or two. That's okay. Still, I'm with you in that at the first of the year, I was pretty sure that OU and OSU were the best teams in the conference and Texas Tech would have little chance. I'm not predicting wins, but I don't think that any team in the Big 12 is unbeatable right now.
One last bit before we end the week. Last week Baylor's Corey Coleman was suspended for a half for this hit:
First, this has nothing to do with UT's Mike Davis' shot at the Iowa St. defensive back, Deon Brumfield. These are two separate events and we can't justify one deed with another. In other words, because the Big 12 didn't act appropriately in that situation doesn't give a pass or an excuse for Coleman. Two separate events.
Second, I scared to death that where football is headed is going to be no fun if players don't stop hitting other players in the head, no matter how it happens. I keep watching that GIF and I think that Coleman could have laid an awesome block on the K-State defender without leaving his feet and without leveraging his shoulder pads into the K-State defender's head. Coleman just as easily could have laid him straight out by hitting the K-State defender in the chest and I would have been totally fine with it. Sorta like the hit that Amaro had on the Texas St. defender. Any general thoughts on this and where you stand on the matter?
Travis (SARR): I saw the conversation you guys were having earlier this week on this topic and didn't weigh in because I'm really conflicted by it. I love football more than any other sport. I live for Saturdays in the fall. I grew up playing the game and still have dreams of suiting up for the New Deal Lions just one more time, and I'm damn near 40. There is nothing like the game of football. The schemes. The game planning. The strategy. And then the raw power of it, like synchronized chaos. I remember those Friday nights with the band playing and the energy in the air and it's you and 10 other guys bound together to defeat the 11 guys on the side of the ball. Some of my best memories are from watching Tech games and I've often dreamt of watching my boys play in high school and maybe even college.
But then I watched The League of Denial series on Frontline last week and it honestly scared me. It really makes you wonder if you want your boys exposing themselves to that potential danger. And I'm like you, I'm really afraid that if we don't do something, we're gonna lose the game we all love so much.
So I applaud the efforts that the NCAA and NFL are making to make the game safer. It's really clunky right now and doesn't always make sense, but it's something that has to be done. We have to protect these kids from themselves so we can ultimately protect the game.
Now it's prediction time! (I wish I could make confetti fall because I always picture you dreading this and I'm dancing around throwing cheese). I say it's a tough atmosphere, and the game stays close but we ultimately pull out another win 38-28 and move to 7-0. Special teams plays much better and the defense forces a few critical turn overs. What you got?
Seth C: I love predictions. It is my favorite part of the week.
I think this one of the three wins with the remaining games. I'm like you, I'm not sure if WVU has the offensive firepower to keep pace and I think it's close if Texas Tech turns the ball over or does something dumb, sorta like ISU. I think WVU has more talented players on offense than ISU, so that will help, just had a bad situation at quarterback. Their defense is capable of playing really well and capitalizing on mistakes. Texas Tech 40, West Virginia 27.