EDITORIAL | What’s not getting really any play is the thought that Kliff Kingsbury may be the best "teacher" in college football for quarterbacks. A couple of true freshmen come to mind, Cal’s Jared Goff completed 60% of his passes, for 7.1 yards per attempt and threw 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions against Northwestern. Penn St.’s Christian Hackenberg completed 70% of his passes for 9 yards per attempt, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Goff and Hackenberg had quarterback ratings of 40.2 and 60.8. Meanwhile, we know more about Baker Mayfield’s debut, 5 total touchdowns and a quarterback ranking of 78.5. Leaps and bounds better than Goff and Hackenberg. Cal and Penn St. faced tougher opponents for sure, but Goff and Hackenberg are more highly rated and those quarterbacks have been in the mix for a period of time, at least the entire fall.
Meanwhile, Kingsbury, a.k.a., the quarterback whisperer, had part of a fall camp to get to know and prepare Baker Mayfield for his debut. As impressed I am with Mayfield’s debut, and I am duly impressed, I am more impressed with Kingsbury’s ability to get a quarterback ready to compete and win games. The numbers about how true freshmen quarterbacks struggle more than their older counterparts weren’t made up by me and maybe Mayfield and Kingsbury will throw those numbers aside, but with week 1 under their belts, Kingsbury is headed in the right direction.
BOOKMARK THIS | The entire Texas Tech vs. SMU game without commercials on YouTube. I should also point you towards the NCAA’s official statistics page, which is different than in year’s past. It’s a different look and not as easy to find a particular team, but I suppose I’ll live. I think there is quite a bit more information available, so that’s going to be good and we’ll be able to get into that once we get a couple of games under out belts. This is Texas Tech’s stats page.
LINKS | These are your morning links:
The big news yesterday was that Texas Tech announced numerous upgrades just weren't for the scoreboard and additional seating, but also somewhat internally as you might actually receive cell service inside the stadium if AT&T is your cell provider. The DT also has an article explaining the upgrades and some video, which is great. That link also has also sorts of information about how the actual experience at Jones AT&T Stadium will be improved. This is just one more way that Texas Tech is trying to make your experience that much better and the athletic department deserves a round of applause for doing something.
The LAJ profiles former Red Raider Landon Hoefer, who is the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for SFA. Here's Hoefer talking about coaching:
"I had known for a long time, since I was young, that I wanted to coach," Hoefer said. "Really, I had talked to coaches about getting out and going into coaching the spring before. I graduated early in three-and-a-half years, but there was a little uncertainty about taking extra classes in the spring. So, I slowed down the job hunting process and decided to stay for my senior year. Then, I got a call from Memphis and it caught me a little off guard."
SB Nation rates all new head football coaches on their first game and the results are "encouraging" with Kingsbury.
- The official site has all of the channels that the game will be on if you're not making it to the game.
- The LAJ also has a notebook of things, including some thoughts about S coach Trey Haverty about how the safeties played and Co-DC & LB coach Mike Smith about performances last week and about SFA.
- SB Nation's The Alphabetical and The Numerical both return! The Alphabetical has a bit about QB Baker Mayfield. Also from the mothership is this fantastic look at how Mississippi State's pressure forced Oklahoma St. to change their offense.
- Also, if you haven't seen SB Nation's NFL preview, it is a beautiful bit of internet magic that just looks stunning. Really terrific work here.
- I missed the initial figures, but here is Football Outsiders rankings after week 1.
- The DMN has a bit on former Red Raider Wes Welker's new commercials with Old Spice.
- Ubben at FSSW has his week 2 predictions and week 2 storylines.
THROW THE FLAG | Some of you mentioned the lack of procedural penalites against SMU as a positive, and I would agree, that is a positive for the offensive line.
What did bother me were the horse collar tackles especially the tackle in the second half to RB Trayon Shead. When I was watching it live, I thought it was going to be horrific and I’m hoping that the injury is short term. I thought the worst and the three horse collar tackles, even if they were iffy calls, were the worst thing about the defense on Friday night. That’s saying something about the defense I suppose, but the players have to be better than this because it would just stink to end another player’s career because of the way that someone is tackled.
PHOTO FINISH | That first touhdown in Baker Mayfield’s career was the most important, right? With the game tied at 6, Mayfield has already had a couple of close calls throwing passes over the middle, but this is an absolute strike up the middle of the field. SMU rushes only three and is in a zone defense, actually defending IR Jordan Davis pretty tightly. Davis finds a seam, not much of a window, but big enough for Mayfield to find the hole in the zone. Davis jukes just enough to fake out the on top defender and makes another SMU defender miss a tackle to the endzone.
IT’S TIME | Do you think that TE Jace Amaro wish he had invented time travel so that he wouldn’t have to sit through an excruciating first half where he was on the sideline? I have to believe that Amaro has learned his lesson and that to be a leader and to be a part of this team, he has to keep his emotions in check and he will dominate Big 12 defenses. It’s really not even going to be fair, but it’s time for him to just go out there and play. There isn’t a team in the Big 12 that didn’t wish they had a guy like Amaro and he’s at a crossroads in his career. He’ll either be unbelievable or he won’t get out of his head.
CHARTING | I used to link to this all of the time, but I didn't even think about it until this morning. OddsShark is/was the odds provider for SB Nation (I'm not sure about their current status) and they usually have information on each game, including this game for Texas Tech against SFA (along with odds for informational purposes only):
DIAL IT UP | This is pressure:
This is a close game, a big third down and DC’s Wallerstedt and Smith are bringing six players (it’s hard to see because of the play button), but this is about taking chances and overwhelming a quarterback and offensive line that could be overwhelmed. On this particular play, all six players rush the passer and it just so happens that Will Smith and Micah Awe get the sack, but this pay isn’t really about them, but about pressure.
TARGET PRACTICE | I have no doubt that the Texas Tech defense is looking at the number of "0" in the box score between the Lumberjacks and Weber St. The number "0" was also important in the Texas Tech box score against SMU. SFA didn’t allow a sack last week and there were 62 different attempts to get one, but SFA did a good enough job on the offensive line to keep Brady Attaway clean the entire game. I say that the Red Raider defense has this number circled because Texas Tech will need to make sure that there’s sufficient pressure on Attaway to force those bad decisions. Attaway had four touchdowns and there’s no doubt that the Lumberjacks can score, but the key will be trying to force turnovers and that’s where Texas Tech’s "0" comes into play. The defense really was pretty darned good and Wallerstedt didn’t give much help to the secondary as he wanted to pressure Gilbert, but SFA may require a different set of circumstances. I get the feeling that Attaway will get rid of the ball quick enough that they may not be able to get to him, but disguising coverages and forcing bad plays could go a long way to this game being a blowout.
LIGHTNING STRIKES | That screen by Reginald Davis for a touchdown was really a thing of beauty. SMU was rushing 5, so they were already behind the 8-ball a bit in terms of men down the field that would be able to make the play on Davis. We've talked a bit about receivers blocking and not blocking this week, but if you go back and watch that play, watch WR Shawn Corker block his man into the endzone. That cornerback for SMU was the guy that should have been there to make that play (there was a safety there too, but he whiffed on the tackle after following Kenny Williams too deep for some reason). Davis makes a heck of a play, a play that you might not see in Big 12 play, but one that was damn fun to watch.
KEYS TO THE GAME | Let's do this:
- The biggest SFA offensive lineman is 307, and that’s just one of them. They mostly range in size of 280 to 290. They aren't probably road graders and are pass protectors, but they’re probably really good at what they do as this isn’t the first year to run this system. I'd guess that the best thing to do is to shoot the gap and rattle Brady Attaway. That's probably easier said than done given the fact that Weber St. didn't register a sack last week. You'd like to think that the athletes shooting those gaps will be a bit better for Texas Tech.
- The SFA defensive line isn't all that big, although they do have two big guys up front, Donald Bryant and Shayvio Hatten, both in the 280 to 290 range and were transfers from Baylor and Texas A&M. They can probably play a bit, but not enough to slow down Weber St. The SFA linebackers aren't all that big and neither are the defensive ends. There should be an advantage on the edge, and I think I'd prefer to see some running back screens. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see SFA try to pressure Mayfield into some bad throws, so those running backs are either going to need to chip or slip down and outside. Mayfield needs to be careful here and not make any lazy throws inside the line of scrimmage.
- The biggest thing that I think I want to see from the offensive line is just a bit more aggression. That's not easy to do when you pass block as much, but it's what they are good at. I'd even be fine with just working defenders and taking advantage of them in terms of space. Work them to where you want them to go, that's as much of a spread offense in terms of the running game than anything else. The line is always in a stand-up position, so they can't fire off like a more standard offense, so they need to make sure they just move their feet and maneuver the defense accordingly.
- Remember when I wrote about how SFA doesn't really have an answer for Amaro? It's true. They have an OLB that might try to stick on Amaro that's 5-9/180. They do have some decent size at cornerback, 5-11 or so, but they are young, freshmen and sophomores for the most part in Destin Mosley, Anthony Kincade, Patrick Brown and Demundre Freeman. Teams are going to have to choose between Ward, Marquez, Amaro and Grant, plus the running backs.
THE LIGHT HAS GONE ON | I’m really excited about what I saw from OLB Pete Robertson. He can play and I really hope that this holds up over Big 12 play because the one thing that this team lacked was multiple players that could disrupt at different positions. Typically it was just one guy that might be able to disrupt a play from one particular spot, but this team has seemingly lacked multiple play-makers for quite some time. If things go as well as we hope, we could potentially have some play-makers at multiple spots. I’m trying to keep some of this in check because we have a total of one game, but it will be interesting to see the secondary get tested this week.
FINDING YOUR WAY | This may be a really good week to focus on the cornerbacks, especially CB Olaoluwa Falemi. Again, tempering expectations because it has just been one game, but is anyone beginning to think that the JUCO recruiting class of 2012 is going to pay huge dividends this season? Not everyone has stuck with that class, but defensively, there are three starters from that 2012 class that were JUCO players and you add in IR Sadale Foster and LB Austin Stewart, both in important backup roles and that was actually a pretty good haul. I don’t think I ever need for JUCO players to just dominate because I think that’s unrealistic, but these are all pretty good contributors and are some pretty good cogs for this team.
QUOTABLE | Deserving to have a good showing.
I just said I was proud of their effort so far. They deserved to have a good showing, so let's go do it. As I said all along, a coaching change isn't easy. The way those kids have embraced us, and the work ethic has been great.
Kingsbury hasn’t forgotten how tough that coaching change was on all of us. The players especially as they lived it, but it’s a pretty simple deal. Work hard and good things will happen.
INJURY REPORT | If I have missed anything, let me know and I'll update.
Fall Practice: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - to miss SMU game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - believed to be out for SMU game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year.
Week 1 vs. SMU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - to miss SMU game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - believed to be out for SMU game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - day to day.
ACTION | I posted this last night, but whatevs, it deserves to be posted multiple times.