Seth C: I'd love to delve into what you think is wrong this this team, a SARR diagnosis in a sense. Lets' set the baseline, which is that we both believe that Texas Tech is playing with house money at this point. They have exceeded almost all expectations with three games to go, so that's the best thing and one thing that we're both really happy about. So, now let's get to the last two games and let's just focus on two things each. What are the two things that you thought were the biggest issues and how do you fix them?
Travis (SARR): I’m going to defer to my man battledome on this one because I think he summed it up perfectly in a Monday thread:
We have a defense that is designed to play with the lead. We don’t have a defense that is designed to stop a run heavy, clock chewing attack. The problem is that the offense has to pull its own weight. It has to put up a lead so that aggressive defense can attack the qb and force turnovers. I don’t think anyone on this staff saw our offensive struggles coming.
I think that’s a perfect assessment of the troubles we’ve been facing over the past few weeks. Instead of jumping on teams early, we’ve been forced to get into a back and forth battle or play from behind, and haven’t been able to overcome that. So the staff needs to adjust.
The turnovers and penalties and 3 & outs are killing us, and putting the defense at an extreme disadvantage. It’s easy to say "don’t turn it over and score all the time," so I’ll try offer some real solutions that can be points of emphasis this week during practice. When Kliff calls me I’m going to offer up these suggestions:
1. Defer the kickoff. I love the XBox philosophy of taking the ball first and driving it down their throats, but it’s not working. We’re taking the kickoff, going 3 & out and punting. Then once the offense is getting warmed up we lose any momentum we had going into half-time because the opponent gets the ball to open the 3rd quarter. Next year when the offense is humming, I’m all for taking the ball first, but for now let’s see if we can get an advantage in the 2nd half. I know the NFL is a completely different animal but I heard an announcer yesterday (probably Phil Simms but I can’t remember for sure) say that games can be won or lost in the few minutes prior to, and right after half-time. It would have been great to get the ball starting the 2nd half after the furious comeback to close the gap to 28-24 Saturday night.
2. Spend extra time this week getting Grant and Webb in sync. There were several opportunities for huge plays missed because those two can’t sync up. I suppose that primarily falls on Webb’s shoulders so make that a point of emphasis going forward.
3. Clean up the drive killing penalties. Easier said than done, but it’s possible to enforce some discipline. We’ve been struggling in the red zone and if Kliff can reduce the number of false starts, it would really help. Make those big boys run some bleachers. That used to work.
Oh man I gave you three things. Sorry. What advice would you offer to Kliff, say if you saw him at the Kenneth Cole store or somewhere like that?
Seth C: Well, I mean Kliff would probably shop at Brooks Brothers, not Kenneth Cole, right? I'm really the last guy to ask about fashion as I'm not really a fashion forward sort of individual. As an aside, I'm going to need to buy a t-shirt for our December 12th Kliffmas Holiday. I also propose that we all take selfies and post them on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag, "#kliffmas" or "#klifftivus". I think that will be fantastic. If I don't go out and buy a v-neck, I might have to borrow one of my wife's v-neck shirts. She loves Kliff a lot more than me.
I really like your first idea, deferring to the second half. It is strange how that has worked the past few games, but I could envision a situation where teams might start doing this on purpose, as they defer to the second half. Of course I worry and think about how to totally defeat your master plan.
I keep thinking that I might be so ecstatic about the long-term health of the program that I'm overlooking the short-term. Not every fan is like that. We had someone propose that DC Matt Wallerstedt be fired after two games. We've got discussion about whether or not Davis Webb is the right quarterback right now. We've got folks thinking that the defense just doesn't have the players right now. How do you balance the two aspects? It's not like I'm ignoring what happened the past two weeks, they are obviously disappointing and you want to see the team win games right now.
Travis (SARR): I heard only rich, successful bankers shop at Brooks Brothers which means I’m usually at JC Penney so I doubt I’d ever run into Kliff there. Let’s blow this thing up on 12/12. #121212 #Festibury
Anyway, back to your question and our mutual quandary. The answer is simple: You’ve got to eat while you dream.
It’s one of my all time favorite quotes from Jack Welch:
You've got to eat while you dream. You've got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that. - Jack Welch
Sure we can think ahead and dream about the future but the team still has some work to do right now. The last thing I want to see is a 5 game losing streak to finish the season. My hope is that the team figures out a way to win 2 out of the next 3 which would put them in position for a 10 win season (with a bowl win). That may not seem like much but it would only be the 2nd 10 win season in 36 years for the Red Raiders. Think about that for a minute. It would be an impressive feat, but in order to get there we’ve gotta eat. Sometime in the next three weeks the team has to put together a couple of complete games. No turnovers. Fewer penalties. More third down stops and fewer 3 & outs. I’m still confident they can do that. It’ll be exciting to watch regardless.
So Saturday is senior day and I’d just like to thank this group of seniors for battling through all the turmoil over the last 5 years. Any thoughts or comments that you’d want to share with any of these guys individually or as a group if you had a chance to talk to them?
Seth C: Yes, by the time that I will have posted this, I will have written about how I really pooped out the last two years and that I owe it to these guys to finish this season out and go at it with the same excitement that I had for game one. I owe it to them to do that. I tend to think that we owe it to them to be as excited as those K-State fans that were fighting to get to .500. Sometimes I think we tend to get spoiled and that's why I loved reading those quotes from Hyder and Ward.
Seriously, Ward's favorite game was a last second game against Nevada. I remember being at that game and it was totally exciting. I remember Darrin Moore getting injured and Ward really stepping up that game. I remember being so excited about the win and being really happy about things because that's what sports can do. They can make you happy for really silly reasons. But then when I got back to VTM, people were really disappointed. Disappointed that the game came down to that sort of play and Texas Tech never should have let Nevada be that close in that game.
But that game, that game was the best moment of his career and that's totally awesome that I remember being totally happy for that game because I honestly forgot that Ward caught the touchdown for that game. And the same thing goes for Hyder. His favorite memory was a game that he didn't even play in, or at least part of his favorite memory was that Missouri game where he didn't even play. If anything, I hope that this reminds us, as fans, that sometimes, the biggest moments in these players' careers are games that they don't even play or a non-conference game against an opponent that should have been a bigger win. Sometimes we can't even really enjoy a win and that's the thing that bothers me the most as a blogger and a fan and a writer.
I haven't even answered the question, but I would just tell them that I'm really proud of them. More than they would really ever know.
So you asked me a really good question and now I'm going to ask you to answer the same question. What would you tell them?
Travis (SARR): I think I’d tell them basically the same things you said. I’m happy they all chose to play at Texas Tech and proud of the way they represented my school. They lived through a ton of adversity and turmoil and carried themselves with class. Sometimes the bigness of it all blocks out the smaller things and I’m glad they reminded us of that this week with their comments.
As fans we get so caught up in the end result that we forget about some of the things that make sports so great. I was watching the Rams and Seahawks play on Monday night a few weeks ago and the camera panned across some of the fans in the stands after a Rams sack during the first quarter. Two guys were wearing Rams jerseys and Cardinals hats and were just having a ball. I remember thinking how happy those guys looked and wondered why they could be that way knowing that their team was likely to lose the game against a superior team. But at that moment, they didn’t care. They were completely in the moment, enjoying a great play. That’s the beauty of it. Only one team wins the National Championship every year, but hundreds of thousands of fans get to relish in their team’s success, no matter how fleeting it is. Maybe their team outperformed expectations and won a decent bowl game. Maybe their team fought to get to .500. Or maybe their team made a couple of big plays in one game that got everyone riled up and excited about the future, but it’s those moments that make being a fan so great.
A buddy of mine is a UTSA grad and has really jumped onboard with their young football team. He texted all of us a picture of the scoreboard when they played Oklahoma State and the score was tied early 7-7. That was a great moment for him.
I’ve mentioned this before but I work with several UT grads, and they’re all good dudes. One of the guys is a season ticket holder and he told me a story about the 2005 championship game. An older couple he sits next to at DKR went to that game and they were mixed in with a bunch of USC fans. They said the fans in front of them stood the entire game and it was very tough to see what was happening on the field. But prior to that 4th down play at the end of the game the USC fans turned around and told this older couple that they knew exactly what was about to happen so they were going to sit down so these two lifelong UT fans could see the play and enjoy it. Vince scrambled for a score and they got to see it and celebrate. I know we hate UT but I think it’s a cool story and punctuates this rambling answer. I want to enjoy the moments and have fun watching this team and these seniors over the next four games.
I feel like I’ve dominated this conversation so I’ll surrender the rest of my time to you and give you the floor to finish this out. Any additional thoughts heading into Saturday and the final stretch of the year? It seems like we waited forever to get the season started and it’s almost over already.
Seth C: That's just it, and I guess this probably makes me old and un-fun and all of that, but it's a singular moment that brings us the most joy. It's a Monday night game in October where fans are celebrating a sack in the first quarter of a game where one of the teams is awful (it's not Seattle). For Ward is was game against Nevada that most of us probably forgot about or were too pissed that Texas Tech didn't win enough or that they were still pissed that Tuberville was the coach or that they were still pissed that Leach wasn't the coach. And then because you're angry you don't let anyone else enjoy the moment because you're so angry.
I tend to think that's the biggest bummer of running a blog and there is only one time where people were totally happy on VTM and that was the day that Tuberville left for Cincinnati. Other than that, there's always hand-wringing. Gilbert is always around dropping nuggets of worry or despair or anger and that's worrisome. Sometimes it's okay to enjoy that moment. I'll quote the immortal and profound Ferris Bueller, who is a fictional person, but still pretty profound:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
I feel like we haven't even talked about the game and we're already reminiscing about the season being over despite the fact there are three games remaining. I suppose that's what happens when you have two totally awesome and introspective dudes like ourselves to think about things in emails when we should be working. I know my wife loves it when I'm introspective.
So here we go. I do think that Kingsbury is right. Texas Tech hasn't played close to it's best game and there's no reason for this not to be it. This team will have seen the movie of for the Lone Survivor and maybe they'll be inspired about what it means to be a team and what it means to never give up (not that they don't) and just lay it all on the line. It's time to prove people wrong and get this thing going. This is going to be a close game because that's the kind of game that Snyder will want to play. They won't play up-tempo, even if it appears that it's putting Texas Tech at a disadvantage defensively by not being able to switch out personnel. The Texas Tech defense should be a lot more simple and sound and if the offensive line can protect against that K-State defensive end, Ryan Mueller, and give Webb plenty of time, then I like Texas Tech's chances a whole lot.
Travis (SARR): I’m always introspecting and my wife loves it.