Seth C: After a bye week of almost no news from the official site or any player or coach interviews, we really just get to go back to the week that was in the Big 12 and we also maybe get some perspective on how good Texas Tech is or isn't.
This week, we saw an unlikely upset as West Virginia upset Oklahoma St. and Oklahoma looked pretty dominant beating Notre Dame. What are your thoughts from the weekend?
Travis (SARR): I think what we saw last weekend just solidifies what we’ve been saying for weeks which is the Big 12 is wide open. WVU won an ugly game against Oklahoma State, who for the first time in a long time looked pedestrian. The WVU defense played lights out, and that scene in Morgantown is pretty impressive. Tech better take a sack lunch with them when they go up there in a few weeks because it’s gonna be a long day and I hope they’re up for it.
Oklahoma was impressive, but I don’t think they’re dominant. They got a quick 14 points on INTs but then cruised along for the win. Not taking anything away from the defense or how they won it, but this isn’t your grandpa’s OU.
I was surprised to see Texas State double up Wyoming 42-21. I sorta pay attention to Wyoming (Keith makes me) and they’re a decent team. It was only their 2nd loss of the season after losing to Nebraska 37-34 in week 1. It definitely makes me feel better about the win (and the struggles we had) against the Bobcats a few weeks ago.
It’s also interesting to watch the evolution of the SEC. We love to hate the Aggies, but they are literally transforming the SEC into the Big 12 in its heyday. If you want to win the big games over there now you’re gonna have to put up 40+ points to do it. Even Nick Saban is joining in the fun, although he’s kicking and screaming as he goes. LSU and Georgia was a total shoot out as was A&M vs Arkansas. Mike Leach has to enjoy watching the monster he created unleashed and infiltrating Dixie.
Did you get a chance to watch any games this weekend? What stood out for you?
I also wanted to get your thoughts on "blog etiquette" particularly as it pertains to calling out players and/or coaches. Someone mentioned a few weeks ago how striking it was to see Barking Carnival just ripping the toughness and lack of emotion coming from the players, and thought it was out of bounds. I’ve always thought that fans can react however they want (to an extent) because this is big time college football. However, I personally don’t like to criticize players on GDT or in stories (even though I may have typed NEBOH a few times last year). I always tried to stay out of the Taylor Potts hate and didn’t want to rip Doege last year, even though I was disappointed in his play at times. Again, I hope this doesn’t sound preachy because I think fans have a right to voice their opinions. It’s just a personal preference for me.
Coaches are another story though. They’re making tons of money and are grown men so they’re fair game, especially when I know so much more about coaching than they do. So where do you stand on this topic?
Seth C: I got to watch quite a bit of West Virginia and Oklahoma St. and WVU looked like a legitimate defense. From their performance thus far this season, I thought for sure that this was just a joke of a team that couldn't play. There were definitely things that went WVU's way, but they played like a real deal football team. And Holgo looked as in tune and focused as I can remember. Not that he doesn't, but something seemed different about him.
I also got to watch some of the LSU vs. Georgia game and it was really just a matter of time before those SEC teams that you don't just have to win with defense, that forcing opponents to play in space and making things tough on defenses is the natural evolution of football. It's not rocket science to figure out that teams are tougher to cover, although I think the problem has always been finding the right quarterback for SEC teams and the right offensive coordinator.
And when I write "dominant" in describing OU, yes you described exactly what happened, they got up early and they never looked back. They'll never be as good as when Switzer was running that show because Switzer was one of the best there ever way, but they looked pretty solid. The Notre Dame offense is probably not the best offense to test an Oklahoma defense as they are very conservative, but still, to go in and win like that seems like a pretty good little win for the Sooners.
As to players being criticized, I think there is a respectful way to criticize a player. I think that saying a player is soft is probably on the wrong side of the fence. I don't think there is a bright line rule as to what is off-limits for me, but cursing at a player or something like that is in poor taste. We can't really know how they feel or what players think, but we can see when a player misses a tackle or misses a block or looks out of position. Things like that, actual particular play on the field, is tough. Its the reason that I got away from doing report cards after a game. I liked the format, but it's tough for me to figure out what's being too critical for a particular player and what isn't. So to sum it up, I think it is okay in talking about specific players and specific plays, but would rather leave the criticism pretty general most of the time.
So VTM could get a lot more page views and visits if we would have a post that reads something like, "Kingsbury to USC . . ?" That's usually the title and then in the post we would get into how Kingsbury is NEVER leaving us. EVER. What's your take on titles like this and is it good to just ignore these types of rumors and sacrifice hits or post something and watch as the visits come in, but the gist of the story is quite different than the headline?
Travis (SARR): Page views and clicks is the name of the game now, so it’s a difficult balancing act. As a fan and consumer, I hate the sites with the slide shows and the stories that only have one or two paragraphs before you have to click to the next page. I’ve also noticed recently on some of the news sites I visit that a story will have 2 pages but when you click on page 2 it only contains a few words to finish out the last sentence of the article.
Mo clicky mo clicky mo clicky.
All of the above are cheap ways to generate more clicks and views and it’s not something you really ever think about until you’re on the other side of things.
On the flip side of that as a producer and contributor, it is tempting to try and generate controversy or contradictory headlines to drive traffic. But I’ve always respected the model you’ve set up here and I am proud of the philosophy we operate under at VTM. It’s funny because last week I kept seeing tweets and stories about Kingsbury so I sent out something about how the country will get over his dazzling smile at some point and realize he’s a legitimate football coach. You can sense that coming from him as well. Sure, he’ll endure the E! stories and Gosling references because it’s a means to an end. The more publicity he generates, the higher profile the program becomes. The silliness will in turn lead to improved recruiting classes and a higher quality product on the field.
It’s an interesting paradox because the larger sites (including SB Nation) continue to focus on the "what ifs" and celebrity side of Kingsbury while at VTM (which is the site that covers the team that Kingsbury actually coaches, BTW) we focus, for the most part, on what he is doing right now and the results he is producing right now.
I’ve seen so many tweets about Kingsbury at Michigan, or Kingsbury at Texas, or Kingsbury to Florida, or Kingsbury to USC that I basically ignore now. And those are followed with stories that are more than likely generating a ton of page views, and that’s ok.
We’ve discussed this behind the scenes but at times it gets a little frustrating to see other sites and other bloggers generating hits and Twitter buzz based on Kingsbury speculation. A misleading story about Kingsbury to USC is going to generate more page views than a weekly conversation about Kingsbury, or an Iconography story featuring Kingsbury, or a post-game write up chock full of Kingsbury quotes from the site that actually covers the coach on a daily basis.
Oh well, as my grandma would say "stop trying to catch those foxes. Say La V."
So what do you think? Should we start doing a weekly post about where Kingsbury is going?
Also, now that the staff has had two weeks to prepare for Kansas, what tweaks or wrinkles (if any) do you think we’ll see on Saturday? I saw some great conversations on VTM about adding in a wildcat wrinkle, which might be an effective way to kick start a struggling running game. Do you think we’ll see any twists?
Seth C: I'm glad that we're in agreement regarding salacious stories. We'll miss out on page views and things like that, but I'm okay with that. As you note, I try my very best to stick to what's happening now and that was the only thing that really kept me sane the last few years and it's why we do what we do. Kingsbury coaching and players playing is what we're supposed to talk about.
I do think I need more uniforms posts and you probably need to do a post about DeLoss Dodds for Texas governor.
Despite thinking that Kingsbury might try something different, this goes entirely against the Mumme, Leach and Kingsbury philosophy, which is to do what you do and do it over and over and over again until you get it right. I would be willing to be a mortgage payment that Kingsbury didn't do much of anything other than get better at what they need to do which is make the offense better, not by trying new things, but by doing the things that they do even better. Can you imagine the out-cry of disappointment if Kingsbury were to bust out with some sort of Wildcat that flopped? We'd be talking about how Kingsbury wasted valuable practice time on an offense that didn't work.
If there is one thing that Kingsbury has preached, it's playing without thinking. This is his philosophy. He wants to be great at what he does.
So to answer your question, I think he has to figure out how to get WR Eric Ward open. He's too big of a weapon to be catching 3 or so passes over the past few weeks. More than anything else, it's about getting Ward one-on-one and maybe getting Ward something over the middle. I've gone back and watched film on Michael Crabtree and although they play opposite sides of the field and I'd love to see some of those things: slants, screens, vertical routes. Ward is a receiver in the body of a running back, I'd love to see him put the hurt to some defensive backs, but he has to get the ball in his hands. More than anything else, I really think that by including Ward, no matter who is at quarterback will be better.
I know the rushing game needs to get better, but I'm not real sure how to make that happen. What do you do to help the offense, not that it needs a ton of help?
I'm asking this in the weekly Iconography post, but I had actually been writing it before someone linked or quoted the Longhorn fan regarding the late-season melt-downs of the past two years. Starting out 4-0 and finishing with losing records. My question to the crowd is "What's different?" and that's my question to you. What's going to be different about this team versus other years? Is it attitude or coaching or something else?
Travis (SARR): I’d love to see him find a way to get Grant more involved. Surely he remembers how successful he was with the shovel passes to Nehemiah Glover back in the day. Lets see 2 or 3 of those a game, along with some of those Welker type end arounds that Leach loved to run. Grant needs the ball in his hands 10-15 times a game.
As far as what’s different I think it’s all the above. It seems that over the past few years we’d hit one game where it was obvious the coaching staff threw in the towel early and I think the players responded to that accordingly. I don’t see that happening with this staff. We’re probably gonna be in a situation where we are down a few scores with a few minutes remaining but I bet a dollar that Kingsbury won’t punt it away. It’s an attitude. #ATMO and #TYFR are silly hash tags that us old guys don’t understand, but it means a lot to those kids. I’ve been saying for weeks now that the swagger that Kingsbury brings and the sense of togetherness this staff exudes bleeds over into the play on the field and can make the difference between a win or a loss in a few close games. We’re about to find out if that’s true.
Seth C: I don't think we've covered this particular subject, but if we have, please humor me? Name the one player that you think has been the best player on offense and defense. And no cheating by naming multiple players and saying that you can't choose. Walt would never do that (I have no idea if this is a true statement, I'm just trying to be cool by referencing Breaking Bad).
Travis (SARR): You’re exactly right. Walt would never do that because Walt is dead.
I don’t necessarily know if these two guys are having the best year on either side of the ball, but the two that I’ve really enjoyed watching and seem to be involved in the big plays are Bullitt on defense and Marquez on offense. Bullitt just seems to be everywhere and I really enjoy watching him cause havoc. Marquez only has 17 catches but he already has 4 touchdowns, and they seem to come at critical times (especially in the TCU game). With the focus on Ward, and the inconsistency from Amaro and Grant (not necessarily their fault by the way, it’s just that neither seems to get in a rhythm for a complete game) Marquez has really picked up the slack and made plays. Who are your top two?
And let’s get into your favorite subject- predictions! I say we start slowly, maybe even trail for the first time all season at some point during the first half, but then find a rhythm in the 2nd half and pull away 28-14. Mayfield gets most of the snaps but Webb comes in for a few series. This is an offense that’s still trying to establish itself but we’ll win the game with solid defense and timely scores.
Seth C: I think I'm going to have to go with Tre' Porter and Jace Amaro. I go with Porter for some of the reasons you are choosing Bullitt. I can think of only one pass play the entire year where the offense went over the top, the trick play from SFA. I think that's a testament to coaching and a fleet footed defensive back that can cover some ground. I'm sure this won't last all year, but I think he changes the game defensively and makes it tougher on opponents to really get down the field. He's really been a fantastic equalizer.
Offensively, I feel the same way about Amaro, the complexion of the game changes when he is on the field and it's really fun to watch him work. He's got so much ability that I don't think he even knows it. And I don't think that Amaro's issues with blocking are effort, just not really knowing how to do it or where to go and he doesn't practice goal line stuff all that much that it's probably not second nature for him. Still, opposing defense really need a guy at the line of scrimmage and need a safety to cover him for anything over the top. Amaro takes away two defenders most of the time, and theoretically, it should make life easier for everyone else.
I think Kansas is pretty anemic on offense and I just can't see how they will score lots of points to keep pace with Texas Tech, no matter who is at quarterback. After the news that Brewer is in pads and smiling, I think that Kingsbury needs to get him some time (obviously, he needs to be cleared medically). I still think this sets up for Brewer to maybe start against Iowa St, which seems like Kingsbury's plan all along.
Predictions? You want predictions? Here goes. Brewer plays on Saturday and throws a touchdown. Bruce Jones gets an interception. Texas Tech wins 35-7.
Let's do one last bit before we sign off for the week. Let's play some word association. I'll give you the player, you give the one word response.
Travis (SARR): Le'Raven Clark- Anchor
Will Smith- Summertime. Ok sorry, Evolving
Pete Robertson- Man
Kenny Williams- Frustrated
Jackson Richards- Surprising
And don’t think I don’t know you thought about giving me Bustin because you knew what I would be tempted to write.
Seth C: Hell yes, the obvious one for Bustin is like shooting a layup for someone that has basketball skillz, like Dirk Nowitzki.
Jace Amaro - Unstoppable
Kerry Hyder - Relentless
Jakeem Grant - Explosive
Tre Porter - Fearless
Ryan Bustin - Reliable