Seth C: I was very much impressed with the way that the game played out, somewhat thought that the slow nature of the offense starting to roll was inevitable, but the offense and defense really turned it on in the second half. Let's start with the defense, what were the top to takeaways that you had about the defense?
Travis (SARR): What really caught my attention was the same thing that Kliff mentioned in his press conference. The energy level was very high and it was great to see. The guys were swarming all over the place. It was impressive because it was probably the hottest game they’ll play in all season and yet they were able to maintain their intensity. We don’t have a Jadeveon Clowney, but we have a bunch of guys that are well conditioned and get after it. Two forced fumbles (both recovered by SMU) and 6 sacks was great to see. What I really liked was that several of the sacks came on 3rd down, and we held them to a 37% conversion rate on 3rd down.
In the GDT and even on Twitter there were some complaints, especially in the 3rd quarter when Gilbert broke 3 big runs. He had a 19 yarder followed immediately by a 23 yard touchdown scamper and I think we all started to have awful flashbacks of teams running the ball down our throats. But in the end, that was basically it. SMU finished with 102 rushing yards (Gilbert had 42 yards on 2 plays and 53 yards overall to lead the team). It’s a little concerning to see that SMU had 490 total yards, but 128 of those came in garbage time with under 3 minutes to play.
So all in all, I think it was a very solid performance by the defense. SMU isn’t a BCS contender, but they are still a legit D-1 school with some talent. They’ll probably be a top 10 offense this year, so I’ll take holding them to 23 points all day. How about you? Did anything stand out for you on defense?
And have I mentioned how jacked I am to have Kliff Kingsbury? Just to see that level of intensity makes you want to burn something. My memories only go back to Jerry Moore, but I’ve never seen a Tech coach prowl a sideline like that. I really hope that a bunny doesn’t somehow get loose and hop around on the sideline during any games this year because Kliff will probably pounce on it and eat it on live TV.
I saw mention of the "brofense" by the Frogs ‘O War and that crap is already old. If anyone still thinks Kliff and his staff are a bunch of "bros" then they aren’t watching very closely. That bro will kick your ass without even messing up his hair. After watching him Friday night I can honestly say there is nobody in America that I would rather have coaching my favorite team. Did you see anything in Kliff that surprised or stood out to you?
Seth C: The things that stood out to me were the open-field tackling and just being so excited to take it all in. A breath of fresh air. You can trust me that there were no literal breaths of fresh air taken during the game because of the stillness in the air, but just being real excited about the game.
I creepily watched Kingsbury for as much as I could during the course of the game and he was calm pretty much the entire night, but he knew when to get excited. It's strange to think that a team needs to be calm, but play with excitement and that's a strange marriage of emotions and it's a tough thing to try to request of your team. You don't want your team so excited that they don't know what their assignments are, but you want them excited to play the game. That was Kingsbury and there were times where I wasn't sure if he was going to smile during the game, but then he got so happy during a couple of touchdowns it was like seeing a kid get excited scoring his first touchdown.
I hope he never loses that.
And yes, it is amazing that getting lost (and I'll expand on this on Thursday) is the thought that Kingsbury coached a walk-on (not your normal walk-on, but that's fine) to get through that game. I just sort of find it staggering that this isn't more of a national story. If this had happened at Notre Dame, Baker Mayfield would have signed movie rights immediately after the game. Credit goes to Mayfield, but seriously, what kind of coach can do that?
But what's not getting enough credit is the defense. You're right about the defense giving up yards, but that's going to happen. Say whatever you want about Gilbert, but he's freaking deadly rolling to his right and it was sorta amazing to watch the entire game. Kingsbury has already said that he knows that the yards are going to happen, but he really wants to limit the points. Texas Tech was gifted a holding penalty that hurt SMU that would have made the game interesting, but ultimately that didn't matter. The Texas Tech offense poured it on and the defense really tightened up the screws. There were a handful of excellent individual performances.
I think that Kingsbury's hair was perfect, even after the Gatorade bath.
One other awesome thing that stuck out that has nothing to do with football was that Tommy McVay didn't take his sunglasses off the entire night. Don't mess with the silver fox.
I am finding my self totally happy in the moment, but we have to be critical because I can't help myself. Mayfield was pretty lucky a couple of times carrying the ball (although I think he finally figured out towards the end to just throw the ball away) and we've already talked about the defense giving up a large chunk of yards. What's the biggest need for improvement thus far?
Oh and any comment on #firedcraigjames or #wefiredcraigjames other than skipping around the house, which is what I did, when I heard the news?
Travis (SARR): I did some research and Tommy McVay is officially the baddest man on the planet according multiple sources at ESPN.
Of course the struggles on the offensive line are a concern, especially with Carpenter out but it looked like the line improved as the game went on. Something that I found encouraging were the in-game adjustments made by Kliff and staff. SMU has been preparing for this game since last December and so they probably had a pretty good idea of what to expect (and vice versa). I’m sure that helped them in the first half, but our coaches made adjustments that really paid off beginning about half way through the 3rd quarter. The conditioning also stood out. The team looked to be much fresher than SMU as the game wore on, which is huge.
Hold on, did I just turn an answer about something that I’m concerned about into something positive? Man. VTM sure can spin some sunshine. Buncha toe the company line guys over there.
Another thing that worries me is Mayfield’s wind up. He’s got a strong arm, but he sure has a long wind up and tends to lock in on a receiver- very Doegesque. I sure hope Kliff can coach that outta him before the TCU game or he’s gonna throw several picks.
#WeFiredCraigJames is one of the best things ever. I stayed off of Twitter Sunday night because I have to watch Breaking Bad after the kids go to sleep and didn’t want to see any spoilers. Then I got up yesterday morning and had to help around the house a bit as penance for all the college football debauchery I indulged in for four days. When I finally had a chance to glance at my phone it was glorious. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about CJ anymore but it is fulfilling to see a bit of Karma in action. The man is very unpopular nationally, and he only has himself to blame.
So let’s jump down this rabbit hole. I used to be a huge ESPN fan but realized during the Leach saga that they had pivoted from an organization that breaks news to an organization that makes news. We saw it again earlier this summer with the Manziel situation. An ESPN reporter makes a comment or quotes a "source" and then four other ESPN networks report on that news throughout the day. Then late in the day they report on reports that ESPN had previously reported on.
ESPN has become a network that is most interested in doing reports that involve ESPN. With the launch of Fox Sports 1, who obviously have some wise decision makers regarding on-air talent, where do you see all this going? Will ESPN remain a juggernaut, or will they someday face a comeuppance similar to Craig James?
Seth C: Yes, that Deadspin link (to lazy to look right now) essentially paints ESPN as a Ouroboros. I am sure Toby will appreciate the Wikipedia reference. ESPN will eventually devour itself on some level. The way that they've relegated Outside the Lines, the lone actual reporting arm of ESPN seems indicative of the direction that ESPN will go. It's somewhat funny (not ha ha funny) to watch another fanbase be completely conflicted about what ESPN is doing, which is creating and commenting on their own news and then getting Skip and Stephen commenting to just comment and have awesome sports takes on Johnny Football.
I do dislike the fact that the only time I watch sports if if there is an actual game happening, but not for any other reason. I used to really enjoy watching highlights, but even that's manufactured to a point. Ask a hockey fan about the lack of coverage for hockey. Some of that is the result of the popularity of the sport, but it's still a major sport in the US and seemingly isn't covered by ESPN.
So Kingsbury has talked quite a bit about how he'll do whatever he needs to do in regards to the offense. Run the ball, pass the ball, whatever. Given what you know after one entire game, do you think that Kingsbury is really going to run the ball or do you think that given the strengths and weaknesses of this team, do you think he's going to stick with slingin' that football around?
One other defensive question, which is that there was a pretty steep drop-off after this team finished the non-conference portion of their schedule last year. Again, we only have one game, but do you think this defense is built to last in the Big 12?
Travis (SARR): #TobyIsMyHomeboy
I loved Kingsbury's comment in his press conference about not continuing to run into a wall if something isn't working. I think that's what sets him apart from the last two Tech coaches. Leach was pretty stubborn about the pass (I still say every single run during his tenure was a check down by the QB) and we know how Tuberville operated. Kingsbury has said it before and I think he's being completely honest. If he has to pass it 100 times to win, he'll do it. If he has to run it 100 times to win, he'll do that too, which is perfect. The fan base was divided over the past three years, but I think some of that was unnecessary. I said a million times I didn't care how they moved the ball, just get first downs and score. Oregon doesn't pass it on every down but they score. Same with Baylor. Same with freaking Alabama. Just score. I think Kingsbury understands that and is flexible enough to adapt. I don't care how we get there as long as we run 80 plays a game, get first downs, wear down the opponent, and outscore them. Because in 2013, that's how football go.
Do I think this defense is built to last in the Big 12? In a word: No. But I don't think any defense is built to last in the Big 12. If you can stop your opponent 3 or 4 times a game by forcing a punt or a turnover, you have a chance to win with this offense. Of course that number might be a little higher with a freshman QB, but that's the name of the game. I guarantee you if we can force 2 FG attempts per game, get at least 3 punts and at least 1 turnover, we'll be in every game in the 4th quarter. And that is freaking awesome.
So how about you? What are your thoughts on the defense as we look ahead to conference play?
And to wrap it up this week, let's do some predictions. The post last week sorta morphed into a prediction thread so we obviously need to do what's necessary to get the people going. I say Grant scores twice, Robinson and Hyder have big games, and we roll 52-14. What's your prediction?
Closest pick gets a beer by the way.
Seth C: Assuming that everyone is healthy, then yes, I think the defense is good enough for the Big 12. I'm on the SARR bandwagon that the defense just has to be good enough and the offense has to keep pace. There's a really good mix of athletes on the defensive side of the ball right now. Guys that can do multiple things. Terrance Bullitt was right there on that 51 yard pass and he's a quasi linebacker/safety. Pete Robertson can rush the passer or drop back in coverage and stay with a running back. Tre Porter can play cornerback or safety. It's going to be real interesting how these parts continue to be utilized over the course of the season.
I'm awful at predictions because I'm always wrong, but I'd do anything for SARR and Toby. I don't think the next two games will not be much of a contest. I think this team is focused. I don't think it's a mistake that Bullitt knew that 6 FCS teams beat BCS teams this past week. That's certainly one notch in the plus column for the coaching staff hammering that down on Tuesday. Respect everyone, fear no one!
SFA is a terrific offensive team and they too will get yards, but they should struggle. Last year, SFA played SMU in the second week of the season and lost 52-0. I don't have expectations that Texas Tech will totally shut out SFA, but it shouldn't be close. Plus, SFA allowed Texas St. to score 41 points last year and they were terrible scoring the ball last year, or at least it seemed that way to me. If things go according to play, Amaro will have a huge day, as will Ward, because most teams just don't have an answer for either of them and neither will SFA. I also think the running game will be better this week. Coach Hays is going to light a fire. Give me Texas Tech 59, SFA 10. I'll also say that SFA will turn the ball over because they always turn the ball over.
Travis (SARR): That's good because I love playing teams that always turn the ball over.