Seth C: I wanted to lead off with some general thoughts about the Big 12. Who are you impressed with and who do you think needs some work? Also, where do you see Texas Tech in the Big 12 mix right now. It's a small sample size, but no one is going to come back to this post and tell us how wrong we were.
Travis (SARR): You're right about that. No one will ever remind us if we're wrong, so it feels like we've got a huge amount of leeway. So, my first prediction is that Keanu Reeves will finally win an Oscar this year.
I picked Baylor to win it all this year and so far they look to be a team that should be in the mix at the end. Their offense is absolutely humming along and their defense seems to be improved. Baylor is in the same boat as we are in that if they can force a few stops in a game, they'll have a shot. They haven't really faced any stiff competition yet, but what they've done so far is impressive. TCU has also looked solid. They hung in the game with LSU, and blew out Southeastern Louisiana after a slow start. TCU will be a great test this week for our Red Raiders.
I thought Oklahoma St looked stout verses Mississippi St and handled UTSA. It was surprising that they gave up 35 to UTSA, but I think most of that was when their backups were in the game. Oklahoma has been confusing. They were dominant in their first game but then they danced around with West Virginia at home in a very odd game, barely holding on for a win.
And then there's Texas. There are some weird things going on in Austin. I went to the Alamo Bowl Kick-Off Luncheon last week and Brock Huard (former UW QB, ESPN CFB Analyst) was one of the panelists. He had some interesting things to say about the program as a whole, but most interesting was his recollection of what an NFL owner told him. He said that this particular owner had instructed his staff to never draft a UT player, no matter what. His reasoning is that they are too entitled. They've been pampered for four years and don't know how to take criticism. I think a lot of people have been saying similar things for years but it was still pretty interesting to hear that in such a large setting (with so many Longhorns in attendance).
I thought about Brock's story as I watched BYU just absolutely run the ball down UT's throats on Saturday night.
And that brings me to our Red Raiders. I'm trying really hard not to get caught up in the hype but man, I'm loving it. I said in a prior conversation that I thought unity and momentum could make the difference in a few games, but after Saturday I've gotta the home field advantage back into the mix. It would be great to hear some first hand accounts from folks at the game last week, but the energy inside the stadium was shooting out of my TV at home. It was crazy electric in the beginning. I can't wait to see what it's like Thursday night, and that crowd can give us a huge advantage.
So with all of that, I think this team will surprise some folks this year. I don't think 9 wins is out of the question. If there are some weird things happening in Austin, then there are some even weirder things happening in Lubbock. A walk-on was on pace to throw for 700 yards Saturday night. Weird.
How about you? How do you see the Big 12 shaping up, Tech included?
Also, you mentioned in the post game wrap-up that you thought the line was performing better than some people think. You specifically mentioned the goal line runs where Amaro missed some blocks. During the first half I was concerned because it looked like we kept running into a brick wall, every time we ran it. No running lanes at all. Can you elaborate a little on your optimism about the offensive line play?
Seth C: With the line blocking, when I first watched the game, I was initially frustrated by the fact that Kenny Williams couldn't or didn't punch it in the endzone the first time and then he had a tough time gaining one freaking yard. I was misspelling things on Twitter and drinking, so I didn't go back and watch. But when I re-watched the game on Sunday morning, it was clear that it wasn't the offensive line that whiffed or missed on blocks that made those runs tougher than they should have been, but there were two missed blocks by Amaro (the defensive end dove right past him inside and this is something to watch this season). Amaro has to work on that part of his game.
In any event, I go back to my initial reaction, which wasn't really accurate. It wasn't the offensive line that was doing a poor job, it was the other parts. Even then, when re-watching the game, I typically watch the play and then re-wind at least twice, one time to watch the line, one time to watch the quarterback and one time to watch the running back or receivers, depending on the play. There were mis-steps for sure, but the line looked to be pretty adept at getting the right spots and creating space. I don't really ever think that Texas Tech is going to have this all-world running game this year, I don't think that's realistic. TAMU will have had a couple of the best tackles in the game for two years in a row to help them, so that's a tough comparison. What I do know is that the offensive line for Texas Tech was doing a really good job of getting to spaces, putting a body on a man and moving them in the appropriate direction.
As far as the Big 12 is concerned, I think it is going to be as topsy turvy as advertised. I'm still pretty confident that Oklahoma State is the best team still, but I was obviously wrong about Texas. At this point, it's obvious it is about coaching as they just shouldn't be as bad as advertised. Baylor's offense is humming, but sorta like Texas Tech, I'm reserving some thoughts about their respective defenses for the time being. I think that both offenses are going to be fantastic, as long as quarterbacks stay healthy.
Let's start looking to Thursday night's game. What's going to end up being the biggest problem in matching up with TCU? Providing enough towels for Patterson or something with the football team?
Travis (SARR): I think we’ll have the towel situation under control. It’s a night game which is a plus, but we can really try to push the cotton industry by supplying him with stack upon stack of white supple cotton towels. We should start a movement to have 100,000 white cotton towels to hand to Coach Patterson after the game, courtesy of the Lubbock Cotton Growers Association. It’s a win win.
As far as game matchups, I’m interested/nervous to see how we match up with Boykin. The Tech defense has really struggled with mobile quarterbacks for years (does anyone remember Seneca Wallace?) so I hope to see a game plan where we can really get a spy on him. It could be Pete Robertson at the bandit position or dropping another man into the secondary to spy on Boykin, or a combination of the two, but I’m anxious to see how that plays out.
I’m also ready to see Mayfield against a top tier defense and how he can adjust. The kid has show tremendous poise and his decision making last Saturday night was phenomenal (especially now that we seen Webb and can compare the two). It’ll be a great test for him and I’m looking forward to it. I still contend that Brewer is going to be out for much longer than anticipated so we’ll need to see continued improvement from Mayfield, week to week.
What matchups are you most looking forward to? Also, and along the same story line as Mayfield and playing time, Don Williams reported today that even when/if Brewer is cleared, Kingsbury said it’s still going to take quite a while to get him on the field. It’s funny how he’s playing word games but he said he asks the trainers for a daily update and they tell him he’s day to day. Then he said he should be able to start throwing soon. What? He’s "day to day" but hasn’t even been throwing? So with that in mind, give me your thoughts on Kingsbury’s dance with the press and should we consider redefining the term "day to day?" As an aside, the next time my boss asks me why my performance is lacking I might just tell him I’m day to day, bro. Chill.
Seth C: So yes, I read those quotes from Kingsbury and he seems to be totally in control. He's playing games a bit, and I'm totally fine with that, not so much Williams reporting. It's actually what Kingsbury said and yes, it's just Kliff being coy and I'm totally fine with that. I think that Kingsbury needs to say that Mayfield needs to earn it each week, it's part of the deal and it's part of what he needs to do to keep players motivated.
My keys to the game are similar to yours, especially Boykin. I looked at the stats last year and he just blew up from a passing perspective. Over 300 yards and that offense was just terrific against the Texas Tech defense. If things go according to plan, I should have already posted in Iconography (I feel like I'm time traveling) that I think it starts to become a confidence thing for the defense. They just have to start to believe at some point and I hope that starts here. I can't say that I know what goes into the mind of a defensive player because you lose so many more battles than they win. That's just the nature of defense, so I think it comes down to winning some of those battles that you talked about earlier. Just win three or four big battles.
Since this is a bit timely, what's your thoughts on the Oklahoma St. and Sports Illustrated situation? On one hand, I have a feeling that inconsistent drug testing, sex with hosts and players, boosters passing money and things like that are something are happen everywhere. Maybe not to the extent at OSU, but I would have to imagine that it is so easy for a booster to slip a player money. It would be so easy to change the drug testing results or make the drug testing so easy to pass that it's a joke. The one thing that I do take pride in, and it's probably silly, is the academics situation at Texas Tech. I am sure that players graduate early all of the time, but I love that guys like Eric Ward and Kerry Hyder are getting their masters degrees. These are the leaders of the team and have a pretty good shot of playing at the next level and they are academic honey badgers. Their dedication to the academics makes my heart swell.
Travis (SARR): Just to clarify, I wasn't knocking Williams at all. He asked the question at the press conference and then reported Kingsbury's answer. My comments were directed towards Kingsbury and the way he's already a master at dancing around with words. He said Brewer is day to day, but he should start throwing again soon. It just struck me as funny.
The OSU situation just crystalizes the conversation we had a few weeks ago. I mentioned the former Alabama player who told me to imagine the worst things possible in big time college football, and then know that it's happening. I specifically listed money, sex and injections and then two weeks later, whaddya know? Here comes a story about all of those things. Sadly, I think this sort of thing is happening with many of the big time programs.
The worst part is that the NCAA is so neutered right now that nothing will probably come of it, especially now that Pickens is out there trying to intimidate any further investigation. I would bet that OSU gets a slap on the wrist and nothing else as a result. It's all such a joke right now. Money trumps all and the NCAA has become the bearded lady at the South Plains Fair. Everybody is laughing at them but nobody believes they're real.
At the same time I also hope that SI puts their story out and then steps aside. My issue with ESPN is that they get so caught up in the story they can't let it go and they use all of their power to keep it front and center. It will be interesting to see if SI lays out the facts as they know them, and then gets out of the way to let the chips fall where they may. I hope that's the approach they take because if they start trying to mold the story I'll have to categorize them with ESPNTMZ.
And I'm with you in sharing pride about the emphasis Texas Tech places on graduating players. They mentioned during the game last Saturday that the 6 coaches on staff didn't just play football at Tech, they all got their degrees as well. This has been a huge point of pride for me going back to the Leach days. I'm glad the vast majority of our student athletes actually attend class and graduate. It's a sad reflection on the state of college athletics that not many schools can say that.
So let's get to the predictions. I think this will be a higher scoring game than many anticipated a few weeks ago. I say Tech manages the game plan, Mayfield is effective and the defense forces a few stops and we win 45-38. I know you hate to do it, but what's your score prediction?
Closest wins some bathtub beer.
Seth C: I don't think it will be as high scoring. I'm going with Texas Tech, 34-31. I think that Texas Tech will have to fight the turnovers on this one as I think we find out that Baker Mayfield is mortal, but in the end, I think that Texas Tech gets a win on this one.
And maybe a good idea for the offseason will be where we continue these weekly conversations and try to come up with some real workable solutions for how the NCAA operates. I know that there are certain things that we won't be able to fix, but there has to be a better way to maintain the game that we care so much about without mucking it up in all of the bad things that happen.
Travis (SARR): That's a good idea. We can fix the NCAA and then everybody will hail us and feed us grapes.