1. What Could Have Been. When I make notes, I write in black and if something that I think needs to be included here, after the game, is circled or written in red. The touchdown to IR Ian Sadler and the touchdown to WR Bradley Marquez were huge plays, from a negative standpoint, because they were both called back due to holding penalties. Alfredo Morales held on the play and it was a beautiful pass that will never be by QB Patrick Mahomes. The second play, and I'm a bit fuzzy on this one, is the break-down of a play where Le'Raven Clark held and standing in the endzone was Marquez and Marquez wouldn't get another look. Oh, what could have been if those two plays could stand. The Sadler touchdown would have left Texas Tech with a 14-0 lead and assuming the Sooners get their touchdown, Texas Tech would have gone into the half with a 21-7 lead. With the Marquez touchdown, Texas Tech would have answered OU's first second half touchdown and kept the lead by two touchdowns.
2. Another Big Rushing Day. It wasn't any secret and it wasn't any sort of deep knowledge that anyone other than Oklahoma's offensive coordinator didn't understand (at least in the first half) that Texas Tech simply cannot stop opponents running the ball and that was painful to watch. Samaje Perine was as rough and tumbled as you might expect and I cannot count the number of times that Texas Tech defenders simply bounced off of Perine rather than wrapped up. Oh yeah, the Texas Tech defender would get a nice lick, but without using those arms and wrapping up, it's somewhat pointless when the guy that you are hitting out-weighs you by 30 pounds or so and you, the defender simply bounce off of the running back. This didn't feel as bad as Arkansas, probably because Oklahoma didn't realize that they could have done this in the first half, but the second half was incredibly painful and the tough thing was that Oklahoma had the perfect read on a Texas Tech defense that was, rightfully so, obsessed with Perine, and as a result, left QB Cody Thomas freely available to make plays on his own. I'd love to know exactly how many pass attempts Thomas had in the second half, and would guess that it was around 5. It was church once Oklahoma stopped messing around and trying to get Thomas to lead this team to a win, had they put it all on Perine's shoulders from the get-go, it would have been over a lot sooner.
3. Walking Wounded Continue. I don't have a clear count on who was exactly injured during the game, but we know that J.J. Gaines was injured, I think his left shoulder. Starting CB Justis Nelson had a head injury and missed most of the game. This mean that D.J. Polite-Bray was thrown into the fire as a cornerback and he didn't make any negative plays, but it's tough to judge his play because Oklahoma really didn't throw the ball to his side in the second half. Not only that, I think Derrick Dixon was also required to get some burn defensively because of Gaines' injury and he got a bi dinged up, but kept playing through the injury.
4. Defensive Struggles. It's never good when you have four of five players in the secondary making your most tackles, Nigel Bethel II, Gaines, Tevin Madison and Keenon Ward were your top four tacklers, especially when the quarterback only throws 20 passes all game long. LB Sam Eguavoen was in there with 7 tackles and V.J. Fehoko, who does a very solid job tackling when he can get his hands on you, had 6 tackles on the day. Still, it was those guys in the secondary that were having to make tackles on Perine, an absolute load for the 175 pound cornerbacks and safeties on the Texas Tech defense. The defensive line is simply not big enough or deep enough to compete with a line the size of Oklahoma. It's just one of those givens that's really tough to admit, but it's unfortunately true. It's going to get there, eventually and watching the defensive line struggle so much is one of the more painful things about watching this team. And it's not because these guys aren't giving effort. Jackson Richards, Rika Levi, and Branden Jackson are giving full effort. There's just no depth as those three plays a huge number of plays and there's no scheme that can make these guys do more than what they are doing.
I know that Davis Webb is an easy target because of his inconsistent play, but these guys are generally in the same boat. I think they all give good effort and they do their best, but there's limitations to what they can do to make plays. Physically, there's only so much they can do. It's the same thing for me about how they play.
5. Solidifying the Receivers. If there was ever any doubt about whether or not WR Devin Lauderdale would solidify that X-receiver spot, well, I think we have our answer. Aside from a personal foul penalty that set the team back a bit, but recovered from, when Lauderdale gets behind a defense, it's church. And it's taken darn near 4/5's of the year, but we're finally starting to see the shine that we mostly thought that Sadler would have. And although his 59 yard reception was mostly the result of an Oklahoma coverage blunder, you can tell he's got something. The end-of-game bomb to WR Dylan Cantrell was, I think, a sign of things to come if whoever is quarterbacking this team can get the ball down the field.
However, the biggest problem is that right now, there's just no one that has stepped up to the Z-receiver position. Yesterday, I think that Marquez received almost every snap at that position, which means that Reginald Davis saw little, if any time there. Marquez can get open, but it's been incredibly disappointing to not see Davis make some sort of move forward.
6. Going for the Jugular. With the fourth quarter underway and Thomas having scored on an 4 yard touchdown, Texas Tech received the ball in excellent field position as Oklahoma kicked the ball out of bounds, the score was Texas Tech 24, Oklahoma 28, head coach Kliff Kingsbury went for all of it on two plays, one to Marquez and the second to Jakeem Grant, both passes were there, in my estimation, but Mahomes didn't lead Marquez enough and maybe Mahomes could have put a little more air underneath the ball and led Grant just a bit more. But Kingsbury and Mahomes absolutely went for the win right here and it didn't work. I know that we get a bit worked up about whether or not Kingsbury has lost some of his desire to be bold, but it's not a field goal or going for it on 4th down sometimes, it's plays like this where it seemed clear to me that Kingsbury and Mahomes were going to get back into this game by throttling it up with a quick strike. The tough thing for me wasn't so much that the defense struggled in the second half, but it was the second half struggles of the offense that's seemingly plagued the offense for most of the year. The second half was similar, aside from a huge play from Lauderdale, the second half was a drive that resulted in a punt (this was the Marquez touchdown-that-wasn't), a field goal after being in and around the red zone, another punt and turning the ball over on downs late in the game. The offense sputtered again in the second half.
7. Finally Winning the Turnover Battle. It would have been incredibly nice to win the turnover battle and actually win the game, but I suppose that when, as a team, you can't capitalize on those turnovers, then it may not matter. Still, it was really terrific to see guys like Tevin Madison get an interception, his break on the ball to grab his INT was incredibly quick and I think it is an eventual sign of things to come for Madison and Keenon Ward's pick to end the second half was exactly what you want from a safety playing centerfield and taking advantage of what looked like a tipped and ill-advised throw to end the first half (really wish he could have scored some way, some how). It was LB Sam Eguavoen's touchdown that was incredibly impactful because the Sooners were driving and in the red zone and Thomas simply didn't see Eguavoen as he jumped up and grabbed the pass. The dagger would have been capitalizing on that Eguavoen interception, but a bad or missed snap at the end of the ensuing offensive drive by Mahomes resulted in a thid and long, which is tough for a freshman quarterback in any circumstance, and Mahomes couldn't connect with Sadler on third down. Oklahoma then got the ball back after a Texas Tech punt and this was the first drive for the defense where they just didn't have an answer for the Oklahoma offense and Gaines gifted the Sooners 15 yards with a late hit out of bounds.
8. Mahomes' Day. Mahomes finished with 393 yards on 50 attempts for 7.86 yards per attempt with 4 touchdowns and 54% completion percentage for the day. Those are really outstanding numbers for a true freshman and after the game, Kingsbury mentioned that he really didn't want Mahomes to turn the ball over, which is pretty much exactly what Mahomes did. Mahomes extended plays with his feet and connected on open receivers when necessary, and threw the ball at the feet of receivers and out of bounds when he didn't have an open look. There are still holes in his game, which is fine and there were a couple of near interceptions that could have happened, but they didn't. Mahomes touch on some throws needs some work, the two passes to Marquez and Grant obviously stand out and the bullet of a pass out of the backfield to DeAndre Washington that nearly resulted in an interception all need work, but you really couldn't have asked for better play from Mahomes overall. Really terrific effort and for me, he really closed the gap between him and Davis Webb simply because of the lack of turnovers. Both quarterbacks have had issues in the second half, but I'll take not turning the ball over for a quarterback any day of the week because against good teams, that will get you a win.
9. Missing that Running Game. Going into this game, Oklahoma had a top 50 rush defense and a pass defense that was abysmal. I know that I'm probably in the minority here, but game planning for Mahomes to try to take advantage of that abysmal pass defense was the right call because it truly was a weakness for the Sooners. That secondary is in disaray. What that meant was that RB DeAndre Washington only saw 12 carries on the day and the offense only rushed 24 times, 8 of those times were from Mahomes. What that meant was 16 carries and 6 receptions spread between RB Justin Stockton, RB Kenny Williams, RB Quinton White and Washington.
10. Kingsbury's Quotes. After the game Kingsbury spoke about the play of the team and I wanted to focus on a couple of quotes from Kingsbury about how the freshmen have played thus far this year.
Q. How much of that mobility that Mahomes gave you today, how much do you think that helps?
COACH KINGSBURY: It helped a lot. He created with his feet, kept some things alive under some tough rushes. Had two big touchdowns called back that I thought he extended to make great throws. Just proud of the way he battled. Wasn't always pretty, missing things. As a young guy, the way he kept fighting, the moment wasn't too big for him. I thought he handled himself well.
Q. A lot of freshmen stepped up early in first half, Madison, Mahomes. What does that say for the future here?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, we're playing a lot of young guys. They've come a long way. It's been rough at times with some of those youngsters, but just proud of them not shying away from the moment. That's one thing, all those kids have stepped up when we asked them to. Hasn't always turned out the way we wanted, but they haven't been afraid of the moment.
It's not easy, but this is going to pay off soon. I can't tell you how much it's going to pay off playing all of these young players. It stinks now, but knowing that these players are all figuring it out this year is going to pay dividends. You've just got to wait on the moment when it all does come together. And Kingsbury mentioning twice, that the moment isn't too big for these guys speaks to his ego and their ego. They don't shrink, you don't want guys that shrink in these situations. Every time I watch this team play, I become more and more firm that the difference is depth how this team very much lacks any depth, especially in the secondary, to make those big plays right now. But it's going to happen.