Seth: Well, this really isn't how I saw things playing out this year. I know you wrote about Webb on Tuesday, but what's your gut telling you about the situation and who do you think will start on Saturday?
Travis: I think it just depends on the time of day, because the situation has been, shall we say, fluid. I think Webb really wants to play, but he's injured. It's not "day to day" and he's not just "hurt," he has a significant shoulder injury. #TechTwitter has been abuzz with news that Webb "suited-up" and "practiced," but what does that mean exactly? Did he fully participate? I'm not a doctor, but a torn labrum seems pretty significant and if I had to bet I'd say Webb won't be able to go at anywhere near 100%.
And I hate to sound like a whiny, self-absorbed blogger/reporter but it gets frustrating at times because getting a simple answer is practically impossible these days. I think a stint with the CIA should be required before anyone is allowed to cover Texas Tech or the Spurs--both are maddeningly secretive and get away with it. The Spurs get away with it because, well, they're the Spurs. Fans that complain about their lack of exposure have no idea that the real reason they get no print is because that's exactly the way they want it.
And Tech gets away with it because it has always been on a seemingly impenetrable media island. The secrecy started with Leach and continues to this day. I know it's not really comparing apples, but imagine if Jameis Winston or Kenny Hill suffered this type of injury and were questionable for their next game. Do you think Fisher or Sumlin could get away with "day to day" type answers?
This isn't a diatribe against the local media because their hands are tied. And you hit the nail on the head with your observation about how convenient it is for Kingsbury to have not seen Webb (or any injured player) prior to the weekly press-conference so as to not have to truthfully address the nature of their injury at the time of the press-conference.
So with that, what are your thoughts on the way Kingsbury handles these types of situations? I understand the desire for competitive advantage and keeping the other coach guessing, but at some point it seems like you could just drop the vagaries and tell your team to go hit somebody in the mouth.
Seth: I certainly get it, from the standpoint that Kingsbury really likes to keep things in-house for the most part and the rattling that goes on in the internets is largely unimportant to him. I really don't have a problem with not reporting injuries or not really discussing them and it's better for the fanbase.
Remember when Tuberville would talk about all of the injuries? Yes, he talked about all of them and there was this huge deal about how the strength and conditioning was a mess and that coach needed to be fired because, "OMG LOOK AT ALL OF THE INJURIES!" For Tuberville, there was too much disclosure. So we've really only had it two different ways, too much information and begging for more.
If given my choice, I'm fine with Kingsbury being coy and not telling a whole lot about what happens with the injuries situation. And for the record, I wasn't really clamoring last year about needing to know injury situation (I don't think). It stinks because there are times where you have a Michael Brewer situation and you just don't even know if he's even injured or not. That's probably the frustrating thing for a lot of fans and I understand that.
Mike Smith made his debut to as defensive coordinator. What were your initial impressions? And if you haven't watched his first press conference, you should, he really has this self-confidence and likability to him. That has nothing to do with his coaching, but you really get the sense that he's trying different things to make sure that he's reaching his players. His comment about these kids having a five second attention span was absolutely spot on and getting these guys to concentrate is a big part of coaching.
Travis: I mentioned it on Friday but something just felt different Thursday night. I don't know if you can call it aura, or some hippie shit like that, but there just seemed to be a different vibe on the sideline and on the field. The defense still gave up too many big plays and looked lost at times, but it didn't seem nearly as hopeless and I think that can be directly traced back to Smith and the new attitude he brings. Lots of guys around here have talked about a certain level of "fakeness" that permeated from Wallerstadt and maybe the players can sense that as well. I don't mean to knock Wally, but in a strange way it felt more real on Thursday. I know that sounds dumb, but for the first time since maybe the WVU game last year I felt like I was watching "real" football. Does that make any sense at all?
So I'll direct this to Smith: Get three turnovers and some stops on Saturday to prove to me it's real.
We haven't talked books in a while. I took your advice and have kept up with the website The Bitter Southerner and have read a few of the books on their suggested list. I shouldn't say read, but instead "listened" since I downloaded them and listen while running trails or treadmills. I listened to "Young God" which is REALLY dark and I wouldn't recommend if you have a teenage or pre-teen daughter. Right now I'm listening to "Natchez Burning" , which is really good. At night I'm reading a book called "The Imperfectionists" about a newspaper in Rome and its employees.
In part I was inspired by you to get back into reading books and the art of writing and have been trying to really stretch myself with different short story contests and things. I've always loved to read but it's easy to get away from. I love trying to structure words and phrases in new and interesting ways, and it's so much fun to read (or listen) to how others do it. So what books have been on your elliptical recently?
Seth: Oh, wow, that's great. Actually, and I don't know what this says about me, but I've been reading The Cider House Rules for a good while now. A bit of background, my introduction to John Irving was A Prayer for Owen Meany. I had never read any thing he had ever written before that book and I really fell in love with the way that Irving told a story. I almost pulled the trigger on World According to Garp, but went with The Cider House Rules (TCHR).
A quick aside, I have not seen the movie for TCHR, but I do know that Michael Caine and Tobey McGuire in the movie, but that's all I know. I continuously think about those two characters as I know what characters they play in the movie. One more quick note, I've never seen the movie Titanic.
So I chose TCHR because I thought it was about an orphanage, but son of a gun, it's about a lot more than that. A heck of a lot more. It's about families and how things don't go as planned and you sorta have to adjust to the life that you're given and it doesn't always work out the way that you hope or want. It really hit home as this week was supposed to be the end of the ban on exit visas in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that didn't happen. In fact, the DRC said that the ban would be indefinite. So we have a kid, in Africa, just sitting there and I can't do a thing about it. I just have to wait and be patient and hope that everything will be okay. There's no game plan in life for this sort of thing and I'd be lying if I told anyone that everything is going to be okay because it might not. Irving does a really good job of telling stories and in TCHR, I had no idea that I was getting into a full lifetime of these people and I guess I also really didn't get how long the book is (since I bought it to ready on my $100 tablet). It's just not about an orphanage, it's a really terrific story.
I want to ask you about information. More directly, the information that we receive. We've both received confirmation regarding Webb's injury. Each of the folks that we have talked to don't know each other, so it's independent and they both have the same diagnosis.
We're sitting on this information and I'd guess that we're probably behind the curve here in that I'd also guess that the rest of the media knows about Webb's injury, but they're being quiet on it as much as we are. But we've sat on lots of information. We knew who the next Chancellor was going to be pretty much the day after Hance announced his retirement.
We had a discussion over the weekend about whether or not we should break the story and ultimately decided to let things play out a bit. How do you feel about breaking news like this in general on VTM?
Travis: First, I'm really pulling for you and Miranda in the adoption. I know it sounds unreasonable, but I know in the end it will work out. It just has to.
And as far as breaking news, this could turn into quite a lengthy answer so I'll try to be concise and brief. I really struggle with what "hat" to wear in situations like this. Should we wear our fan hat and keep a lid on things in order to help the program keep the opposing team guessing? Or should we wear our journalism hat--the hat that compels us to report news as we know it? The truth is no matter how many folks try to categorize us as simply a cute little blog, we've grown past that. VTM is becoming a place where Tech fans can get reliable information without a filter, and I think that's really important and rare.
But by moving slowly and responsibly we're taking the correct approach, no matter how hard it is for me to sit on information for a few days. In the end it's in the best interest for all involved. I don't want us to be known as a source for breaking news that is sometimes correct, I want us to be known as the place to go to get reliable, responsible information about Texas Tech, even if it differs from what other outlets are reporting--national or otherwise.
In a lot of ways I think it's great because you've pushed me out of my comfort zone at times and I think I've done the same with you. The behind the scenes push and pull has made VTM a better place and we're still charging ahead, pursuing the goal of making VTM the premiere destination for Red Raider fans. And we're slowly but surely getting there.
So what are your thoughts on it? I know this week has been a headache for both of us, in different ways.
And lastly, lets get to the game. I think Webb might try to give it a go, but Mahomes gets the majority of snaps. For some reason I feel optimistic this week. I know this sounds trivial, but I like playing KSU relatively early in the season, before they've really hit their stride. That coupled with continued improvement from the defense and a few breaks gives us a win in a tight game. How do you see it playing out?
Seth: I'm fine with not leaking any information ever. Even if it could bring more and more hits and visits to VTM or not make me look like an idiot, I'm fine with sitting on things. At some point, you very much do not want to run a blog just to get hits and visits because that sort of stuff is fleeting if you're incorrect. I suppose that one other way to look at it is that once people trust you with that information, it's pretty important not to ruin that relationship by running with something.
The other thing that bothers me just a bit is that when it involves an injury. Sometimes that is a very black or white proposition, but with the Webb injury, we both think we know the diagnosis, but that doesn't mean that Webb will or will not play.
And as we discussed on Sunday, there are other ways to break the news without breaking any news. You just have to be smart about the way that you say things. Given everything that's gone on, it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Webb play on Saturday and it also wouldn't surprise me to see Webb sitting down while he recovers. The only thing that it does make me think is that if Webb does play, no one should ever question whether or not he's a tough kid.
As far as the game, I still think that K-State offers too many problems up and down the board. They're consistent on offense and have an incredibly stingy defense. That makes for a bad combination. The one thing is that Kansas State hasn't really seen a passing offense, so that could be something that the Wildcats aren't used to seeing. If Webb plays, I like Texas Tech to keep it within 12, but if Mahomes plays, it could get ugly and I'd take K-State plus the points.
What about you? How do you think Texas Tech will do and what's the over/under on the number of penalties on Saturday (no, you may not set the number at eleventy billion).
Travis: Tech wins despite committing a record 83 penalties. Confetti/Kenny Powers!