1. Feels Good. Pretty nice little win as far as I'm concerned. Kansas came in averaging 155 yards a game running the ball and about 175 passing the ball. The Texas Tech defense did a pretty remarkable job of stopping the run, especially for a team that's been so maligned this year, allowing only 128 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per carry. That's some really nice production for a maligned defense. I'd also add that the pass defense, especially with the injury to Keenon Ward, was significant and the dismissal of Josh Keys, it meant that the team was playing a ton of guys that had not seen a lot of time, including Jalen Barnes and Derrick Dixon. That's two more freshman playing significant time, along side J.J. Gaines. Lots and lots of freshmen playing this year and getting some good experience. Let's add to the idea that the only real significant blunder by the safeties was the Mundine touchdown catch, where there was no one over the top. Again, for having relatively no experience at one safety spot, that's not bad. The worst part of the defense, and this is something that will have to be better, is the long completions. Nigel Bethel, II has to still work on his timing and that comes with experience more than anything else. The most encouraging thing is that Bethel is there with the receiver and not chasing. The same thing with Justis Nelson, who appears to be progressing thus far.
Overall though, this felt like a real team win. More players stepped up than I can recall and I won't get to every play or player here. Just too many to name or consider, but this was a good team win, everyone pulled their part.
2. Pedestrian Numbers. Davis Webb put up pretty pedestrian numbers this week, 28 of 44 for 288, averaging about 6.5 yards per attempt with 3 touchdowns and 1 pick, plus a fumble, although Reshod Fortenberry and Baylen Brown should get a little credit for that fumble. The numbers were pedestrian, for me, and that's just fine. Webb wasn't asked to do as much this week because the running game was simply clicking and couldn't be stopped. I thought that Webb was off early, throwing passes that were a bit out of the strike zone for some players, but there were still a lot of drops too. Jakeem Grant had a couple (I think) and Ian Sadler had a drop that would have extended a second half drive. Hit him right in the breadbasket and he'll get more opportunities in his career to get that back. The worst part of Webb's day was the interception late in the first half, throwing the ball to Ben Heeney. Just never saw him. That interception allowed Kansas to get a late first half touchdown. That's the worst part of Webb's game, the timing aspect of some of his turnovers as it would have been nice to add a score, a field goal or a touchdown, to go up by 20 or 24 on Kansas. Kingsbury mentioned after the game that not being able to finish drives is still something that's problematic with this team.
It wasn't our best game, that's for sure, but I was just happy to see us find a way to win in the end. Once again, I thought we had times to really stretch it out. Defense got big stops and offense wasn't able to capitalize, and that's kind of been the story of our season, so we have to continue to work on rising up in all three phases and putting teams away.
3. Washington's Career Day. How about that day for DeAndre Washington? Just a fantastic day and just reinforced that he is this team's best player on offense. Washington finished with 164 yards on 23 touches, averaging 7.1 yards per rush, plus another 21 yards on 2 catches. That's 7.4 yards per touch for Washington and it is clear that Kingsbury wants the ball in Washington's hands and the offensive line is giving him lots of daylight to run the ball. Add in some real nice blocks by Rodney Hall and Kenny Williams and it is pretty clear that Kingsbury knows he has to run the ball more to help mitigate and take some of the pressure off of Webb with Webb's injury. And yeah, I know that Webb isn't listed as being injured, but the fact that he's gone three straight games with that shoulder wrapped should tell you something. We don't know what that injury is, but we know that he has it and there's something about Webb's range of motion that's just a bit off.
4. Big Plays on Defense. Lots of big plays, including 9 tackles for a loss, plus a fumble recover, an interception by J.J. Gaines, where he did a pretty nice job of tracking that ball, plus 4 sacks and 5 pass break-ups. The defense feels like a MASH unit right now, lots of guys out or just not playing or whatever. I'm at the point where I am having to look at the roster to figure out the number of the player because I'm just not recognizing some of the players. And it seemed like players were just going down like flies and then returning. We talked about this a bit last week, but the best thing that's happened since Mike Smith took over is that there are significantly more plays being made. The yards are still being given up on a consistent basis, although the defense was about 120 yards below their season average on yards allowed, but the difference is the plays and more turnovers that are being made. That wasn't happening really with Wallerstedt. One other thing is how quickly Mike Smith ended the Kenny Williams at linebacker experiment. That happened pretty quickly after Smith was put in charge.
5. Injury List. This was a surprise prior to the game. S Keenon Ward, DT Anthony Smith, and we knew about DT Demetrius Alston was also out prior ot the game. That's a lot of depth and that meant that a lot of younger guys got time, guys like Donte Phillips and really anyone else that could fill in along the defensive line. Plus, Jakeem Grant twisted an ankle, although they said he would be fine. Bradley Marquez had a rib contusion and left pretty early. Andre Ross left at the tail end of the game, subbed in for by Gary Moore, with some sort of injury. This seemed to be a really rough game for injuries overall and this isn't exactly a team full of depth. We'll see how this plays out this week, but if Marquez misses significant time, you can expect Sadler to fill in even ore and Cameron Batson to maybe get some burn as well.
6. Spreading the Ball Around. The one thing that I very much liked from Webb this game was how much he spread the ball around. Grant had 6 catches, Marquez had 6, Sadler had 4, Reginald Davis had 3 and Dylan Cantrell had 2. Go ahead and add in a handful of catches, 5 total, for Washington, Kenny Williams and Justin Stockton and that's 9 players with at least 1 catch (excluding Webb who caught his own pass). We've had a pretty decent complaint for the year about how Webb locks in on just one or two receivers and that wasn't the case this week and it was nice to see. Maybe the injuries to Grant and Marquez helped Webb trust some guys more, as that's a big part of the process as well.
7. Gone. Well, prior to the game, we find out that RB Tyler Middleton has left the team and transferred and S Josh Keys was dismissed from the team. That's some roster turnover right in the middle of the season and a bit surprising. Kingsbury actually said that Keys is no longer with the team for the remainder of the season and was a violation of team rules and didn't get into specifics. Kingsbury didn't go any further about whether there was any chance he would be back. Normally, this sort of story has it's own post, but will be buried in the the post-game write-up and it is significant from the respect that Keys was a 4-star safety and was thought to be a big part of the rotation. Keys has been suspended for what seems like a couple of games this year and there's just no way to speculate how or what Keys did, but there was something off about his behavior, enough to drop him from your team AND when your best defender, Keenon Ward, is out for the game with an injury. Coaches don't like cutting players generally speaking, especially ones that give you at least some value, but that leash had apparently been cut incredibly short with Keys and he's now a footnote of a JUCO player that didn't work out.
8. Penalties? Yeah, only 4 for 22 yards. Rejoice. A pretty clean game overall and what a relief. Give some credit to the coaching staff for getting at least 1 game cleaned up. The worst penalty came when Austin Stewart didn't line up on the line of scrimmage on a punt, which negated the ball being downed by Stewart at the 1 in the first half.
9. Rough on Third Downs. Really, this goes for the offense, in a not-so-good-way, and the defense, in a very-good-sort-of-way. On third downs, Texas Tech only converted 5 of 15 on third downs, or 33%. Some of them bad passes by Webb and others were simply drops. Still, only 5 conversions is problematic and against TCU, that will have to improve. The defense though also was really great on third downs as the only allowed 28% of third down conversions. The defense did a pretty terrific job of getting Kansas off the field for the better part of the day.
10.a. Sadler's First. Really nice corner route by Ian Sadler to record his first touchdown of his career. Actually, all three of Webb's touchdowns showed some pretty nice touch, the one to Sadler was really terrific and Reginald Davis' touchdown was a similar throw. Marquez over the middle, where Webb had to throw over the defnse, placed the ball right were Marquez could get it.
10.b. Special Teams. I haven't talked a ton about special teams, but after the disaster last week, where P Taylor Symmank punted the ball into the endzone, he very much had a big punt at the end of the game, punting the ball out of bounds at the 1 yard line. We've already mentioned how Stewart almost had another opportunity to pin another one deep had it not been for Stewart's own penalty. The punt returns were shaky, at best and there really weren't a ton of opportunities otherwise.
10.c. Redzone Scores. Last week, Texas Tech very much shot themselves in the foot after not being able to convert redzone opportunities into touchdowns. This week, Texas Tech converted all 4 opportunities and 3 of those opportunities resulted in touchdowns. That's significantly better.
10.d. They're Pulling for Each Other. We talk about whether or not this team is maybe losing interest or not fully invested and Webb was asked about Marquez's injury and Webb told a pretty neat story, which, I think shows that this team is still fighting quite a bit and they are all pulling for each other:
Yeah, I haven't talked to my roommate yet. He's in high spirits. I think he's okay. Yeah, he's one of my best friends and he's a competitor. One thing that you probably didn't see on TV or in the game was him pumping up Ian Sadler and really getting in his head, hey, Ian, you got this. Look for this, watch out for this. He's a great teammate. That's why he's a captain, and I'm really proud of him as a best friend and roommate. He'll be okay though. He's tough.