THE RESULT | Frustrating | Five straight touchdown drives on the defense and four straight offensive drives that amounted for 64 total yards at one point in the second half. That really says it all right there and there's not a lot that I can write about this game other than everytime I watch this sort of game, I go back to the idea that it's a lack of talent. I remember when I wrote that after Oklahoma St. laid one on Texas Tech a few years ago and there were many people that were upset that I would even suggest that. When I watch what happened, a team just get beat up, I go back to that thought and I couldn't help but think that yesterday.
I do think there's some pretty decent talent on this team, but it's painfully thin. I suppose that's what happens when you lose two young defensive tackles, a linebacker that tackles well in space and a burner for a receiver because of the coaching transition.
Maybe talent isn't the right way to say it, but it sure does look that way when your team is beat every way. Maybe that's the best thing to write when you don't really want to talk about specific players not being able to do specific things. Maybe this is the right thing to write when you still have a coach that has to identify what's right and what's wrong with the team. Maybe this is the right thing to write because then it allows your coach to really evaluate the flaws with the team and attempt to address them with this recruiting class. There's a lot of work left to do.
There's no doubt that Kliff Kingsbury sees the same thing that you and I see. It's not easy watching your team get rolled two weeks in a row and most likely next week (do you believe in miracles?). The good thing is that Kingsbury is driven and he wants to win. He wants to get this so he's on the other side of that score. He'll get there, but you have to give him time.
And for the first time that I can recall, there was not post game interview video.
OFFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME | WR Eric Ward went out in style. Finishing his home career with 11 catches for 107 yards and 1 touchdown.
DEFENSIVE STAR OF THE GAME | I don't know how to decide this when there was so many points given up and the defense really struggled, I'm going to go with LB Will Smith who led the team with 8 tackles.
I Don't Have Answers, But I'll Try | I keep blaming a lot of things on my age, and I'll continue to do so here. Rather than get mad at the players and point out specific things that I'd change, I'm going to talk about what I think needs get fixed at high speed. It's less painful this way to discuss what needs to be fixed rather than trying to fix things right now. That's just not going to happen, whether it be because of injuries or any other reason, personnel or whatever.
Two-Gap Defensive Linemen | I don't even think that Texas Tech really runs a two-gap scheme, but it's pretty clear that the defensive line needs to not just get bigger, but it also has to get stronger. The defensive line just can't dictate the action in any way shape or form. I think when Kingsbury let Ivan Thomas and his scholarship spot go, it was most likely for defensive help that was immediate. You don't just recruit three JUCO defensive tackles if you don't think that this is a problem. Demetrius Campbell, Owen Williams and Keland McEltrath are all going to have to fill these spots and they all are in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. Even then, the defensive tackles right now just aren't dictating anything and that's problematic when you have a game that's all about leverage. One or two isn't going to help, it has to be a handful of these guys, so Anthony Smith, Donte Phillips, Jackson Richards, Bennett Ofor and Demetrious Alston better get ready.
Passing on a kid like Thomas is disappointing, because that kid was given an offer, but the good thing is that Thomas was notified in November, not in January. And you can see that these are the only defensive linemen on the team, Smith, Richards, Phillips, Ofor and Alston. If Kingsbury didn't go hard after some defensive tackles that can move some dirt then he knew that he'd being doing the same thing next year.
Kingsbury knew he had to make this tough choice last week. That should tell you something. He had to let down a kid to try make his team better next year.
Two-gap defensive linemen allow linebackers to make plays. If linebackers can't make plays, then it's really just a math problem. If one guy takes up two guys, then there's one extra free guy.
Burners on the Edge | I know that we sorta like to make fun of a it about a guy like Javon Bell. His injury last year did seem to change things and I do think that the type of player that Bell is does make life easier for an offense. I don't remember who mentioned this earlier in the week, but it's been a while since Texas Tech had burners on the edge. I love Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez and I mean that and I'm not afraid to say that. They are not speed demons and can really beat defenses on the outside. They are streaking receivers. I do think that there was an attempt to remedy this a big with guys like Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler along with guys like D.J. Polite-Bray and committed guys like Byron Daniels. I think the idea has always been that this is an area of need, but there just hasn't been a guy that can break a defense by running past a defender. It seems that this is something that needed to be remedied for a while. And that doesn't mean that guys like Ward and Marquez need to be replaced, but it seems that this offense has been playing within 25 yard gaps for quite some time rather than being able to play in 40 yard gaps.
Physical Offensive Line | The offensive line struggles at times to dominate. When you look back at the recruiting, I always thought that the number of recruits was appropriate, a handful of offensive linemen in each of the two years prior to Kingsbury's hire, but they're still young. When you look at the offensive lines for Kansas St. and Oklahoma St., the thing that stood out to me was the sheer number of juniors and seniors rather than sophomores and freshmen. The younger guys, typically just aren't ready to play and that's not their fault. Like almost every position, this is a game where experience is better than youth for the most part. By this time next year, Texas Tech will have three new older additions to the offensive line, including JUCO transfer Drew Sarvary (6-7/310), Sam Houston St. transfer Joey White (6-4/320) and UTEP transfer Blake Snider (6-6/255). That's going to be an immediate injection of some real competition to this line that will then have some juniors and seniors along the line. It is also painfully clear that just being big doesn't mean that they'll be dominant. This isn't the defensive line. It helps, but isn't a prerequisite.
And again, this is something that Kingsbury has identified long before the season started because he took on those transfers. Heck, we all knew that this was a problem before the season started with a relatively low number of offensive linemen. Still, the good thing here is that Kingsbury identified this some time ago. Three transfers to what will be an experienced offensive line should help quite a bit, plus four freshmen should help quite a bit with the freshmen redshirt freshmen that are already on the team.
One of the things that Kingsbury enjoyed more than anything else last year at TAMU was two of the best tackles that he's ever had playing for him and just think about how much easier that makes being an offensive coordinator. It's easy to get spoiled, and I don't think that Kingsbury was spoiled, but it's something he identified quite early as needing to find someone that can dominate on the line.
Big Targets Outside | Right now, there is really only one big receiving target that's a receiver. This is one thing that the prior staff didn't do well at all, which is get some guys with size so that when you get in that redzone, you've got bigger targets to throw the ball. Right now, Webb or Mayfield or whoever is throwing to guys that are in that 6-0 to 6-1 range and that's just not big enough. So, in Kingsbury's first recruiting class, he found guys that have some size in Dylan Cantrell and Gary Moore and JUCO Jacob Hurla (who may not ever play a lot, but he's a bigger receiver for sure at 6-3/185) and incoming freshman Jakari Dillard who probably will eventually have the frame at 6-4 of his father, who was an offensive lineman at OU, to put on some additional size.
Kingsbury had to know that guys like Mike Evans for TAMU are significant players and it's easier to post guys up in the endzone and jump over defensive backs when you've got a guy who is 6-5 and on the outside with guys like Cantrell maybe getting some snaps inside in the redzone. Those fade routes work a lot better when you have some real size in the endzone with some options.>
Must Make Plays | The defense has seemingly lacked real play-makers for a long period of time. There are guys there for sure, but just not play-makers. At some point, there is going to have to be someone that makes significant plays, whether it be turnovers, or interceptions or big plays. A guy like Pete Robertson can be spectacular when playing a running team, but there's just too many ways for an opposing offensive coordinator to scheme around a 6-3/225 defensive end. Baylor did it against Oklahoma and Eric Striker on Thursday. So, there are times when a player like Robertson is terrific, but then there are times where you almost completely take a guy off the field because he just can't support the run like a guy that would maybe have 50 additional pounds. Maybe this is the difference in having a guy like Dartwan Bush available and having some versatility on the defensive line.
Kingsbury used five of his available scholarships last year on linebackers. He's got find one in that roup that can make plays. And I'm not writing off the linebackers on the team now, I've got a lot of hope for Sam Eguavoen and Micah Awe leading a resurgence (Although I hope Awe takes Wallerstedt to heart when Wally tells him that he just can't play linebacker at 210 in the Big 12.). But the new guys are most likely going to get their opportunity next year. Andre Ross, Kahlee Woods, Malik Jenkins, Jacarthy Mack and Zach Barnes will all get their opportunity to be the guy that has to make plays, but it starts now.
Let's Talk About Quarterbacks | By the time that Davis Webb was pulled I couldn't believe he had thrown 20 passes. Teams have the book on Webb and the receivers and they know that getting beat deep is probably not going to happen on real regular basis and as a result, Webb had 13 completions and 20 attempts for just 78 yards. I have friends that ask me what the heck is going on at the quarterback position, I tell them that I really don't have a clue what's going on. I don't have any inside information, I don't have any idea as to why Michael Brewer gets a shot in one game, essentially to ge pummeled, which I didn't have a problem with at the time because the assumption was that he was okay, and then he's back on the bench for what seems like will be the rest of the year. I forgot how Baker Mayfield plays with such reckless abandon, but he's a tough son of a gun. I don't know why, but aesthetically, I enjoy watching him more than Webb. I think that's personal preference more than anything else. Ideally, I'd rather watch Brewer and let him get those snaps before the end of the year.
But really, I don't have a clue any more. I don't know what to tell you and I can't explain anything to you as to "why" this is happening. It's frustrating for sure. All I know what to do is to cheer for the guy making the plays and trust that Kingsbury is making the right decision. Inside my tiny brain, I don't feel like that's what is happening, but I also am not privy to all of the facts surrounding this circumstance. Something is happening here and we're not sure exactly what it is.