1. It's Just Bad Football. This was head coach Kliff Kingsbury's first comment in last night's press conference:
"No. I've never seen a team shoot itself in the foot as many times as we did tonight. It was embarrassing football, honestly, that's the only way to put it; 158 yards on penalties, three turnovers, one going in the red zone and then you give them the ball twice in the red zone. It's just bad football, and it's on me. I have to get it fixed."
I don't know what else needs to be said. Kingsbury knows it. We know it. The penalties were just flat out embarrassing and I'm not sure what else there is to say. The players know it, the coach knows it. The fans know it. We all know it. Kingsbury has talked before about how he's tried all sorts of punishments and I've talked about playing time being something to motivate players, but I don't even know any more. If I didn't have to type, I'd throw my arms up in the air.
2. Webb's Performance and Injury. QB Davis Webb was exactly who he was for the entire year. He would look spectacular at times and then make bad mistakes, turning the ball over twice, one time in the redzone I think, and throwing for 354 yards, about 7 yards an attempt and 4 touchdowns. I felt that there was more good than bad with Webb, at least with this game and I can't say that about some other games. But in the 4th quarter, Webb runs 13 or so yards to get a first down and (surprise) lands awkwardly after trying to get that first down. My first reaction was one of a guy that runs a blog in that Webb would be criticized for not sliding by one set of fans and would also be criticized for not going for the first down had he not made it. The worst thing is that both of those things happened and there was a penalty. Of course. The perfect topper to an awful play.
After the game, Kingsbury said he wasn't sure on Webb's status for this week's game. I suppose the silver lining would be that it was Webb's non-throwing shoulder that looked like it popped out and once he got it in place, he seemed like he was okay physically and not in any pain.
3. Smith's Debut. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith made his defensive coordinator debut and it was up and down. Let's get to the good stuff first, which is that I really thought the defense looked a bit more organized. I'm not sure if this is my thinking that I want the defense to look better so therefore I think they played better. The problem for me in making that statement is that the stats don't prove out that the defense played better. Texas Tech still gave up 528 yards and over 7 yards a play and neither of those things are good things.
What was good was that I thought that the front seven looked significantly more organized and together. I'm awful about watching numbers and players and who is in there and who isn't. We do know that one of the moves that was made was that Austin Stewart started at the Raider linebacker spot for Kenny Williams and we also saw the first start for Keland McElrath at defensive tackle for jackson Richards. I think those are both nice positive moves. The only bad thing is that I thought those guys looked a little gassed at the end of the game, but that's a minor complaint. We also saw significant more time of Andre Ross and Gary Moore and they both looked good subbing in for Pete Robertson. I think what we ended up seeing was a more effective Pete Robertson, who was also lined up with his hand-down rather standing up. The other good thing is that Texas Tech only allowed 3.8 yards a rush on 42 carries for Oklahoma State. That's a significant improvement. This is less than the average for OSU, so there's that.
4. If It Isn't One Thing. The rush defense looked better and more organized and prior to the game, I was sure that Texas Tech would see Daxx Garman throw the ball deep, but even that surprised me. For Garman, it was just chunk the ball down the field and let the receivers go up and get the ball and the Oklahoma State receivers certainly did that. An astounding 11.9 yards per attempt for Garman on the night and every cornerback that played, looked terrible in some form or fashion. Yes, there was no cornerback that was immune. I've only had time to watch the game once (last night live), but it seemed like there was never any safety help on any of those long passes and the one time that there was a safety that was supposed to take a receiver resulted in a touchdown. J.J. Gaines is really struggling in coverage (although his interception was a thing of beauty) and we saw significantly more Josh Keys as a result. Not only that, I think we also saw Keenon Ward injured late in the game and I'm not sure as to his status. Again, I wasn't watching close enough to figure out if Keys was playing behind Gaines or Ward and Jalen Barnes was out with an injury and didn't travel, so Keys was the best safety backing up backing up both of those guys (I think).
5. Mahomes Gets His Chance. That was a rough first series for Patrick Mahomes. It was to be expected, at least for me, that Mahomes wouldn't look as good as you would want right out of the gate. He's a freshman, so those things are going to happen and that's okay. Mahomes' strengths are not Webb's strengths and vice versa. Mahomes has terrific legs and if he does start, you can look for Kingsbury to tailor the game plan to what Mahomes does:
"We would play to Pat's (Mahomes’) strengths. He does some things really well. We'd make sure we're calling plays that he likes. We were in a similar situation last year with some freshmen quarterbacks so we'll figure out how to get it done."
Mahomes doesn't have the arm or the vision (just yet) that Webb has and his legs can make up for a lot of mistakes. Mahomes still had a tough time reading the defense and held onto the ball way too long a handful of times that resulted in a negative play. Mahomes finished 2 of 5 for 20 yards with an interception in the redzone, a couple of sacks and a really nice touchdown to Grant. We sorta went back to this last year in that more than likely, Webb is getting most of the reps in practice and the game-plan was obviously tailed to what Webb did and I'm sure that this will change if Mahomes starts this next week. I'm not sure if he will, but it will be interesting. I still think I'm in the minority, but I still think that Webb gives you the better shot to win games, despite his warts. Mahomes will have warts too, we just don't know all of them.
6. Missed Opportunities. This goes in tandem with item #1 above, but son of a gun, there were so many missed opportunities, a kickoff for a touchdown and a couple of really long returns for Jakeem Grant and Cameron Batson. It's hard to tell if the special teams is playing better because the penalties are just killing it. It would be one thing if the penalties were just happening on special teams, but the penalties are around the horn, from special teams, to offense to defense.
7. Too Many Drops. I don't know if this was just me, but I felt that there were just too many drops last night, mainly Reginald Davis and Jakeem Grant. Anytime I write something like that, I think that I need to clarify that this wasn't a situation where Webb was perfect in those passes, but at some point, Davis needs to make some of those long passes. I think that even Bradley Marquez missed on a pass that would have seemed like a sure-fire first down had he caught it. And it seemed like Grant saw a ton of targets last night and had he caught some of those that he dropped (he also made some really nice catches) he would have closer to 150 yards rather than just 100 receiving yards.
8. Leading Tacklers. For what seems like a really long time, I love the fact that sitting atop the defensive statistics are two linebackers and a defensive lineman. Pete Robertson and Sam Eguavoen lead the team with 8 tackles each and combined for 3 tackles for a loss and Keland McElrath finished the night with 7 tackles with 5 solo tackles on his own. Yeah, we could say that the cornerbacks and the safeties weren't making any tackles because they were running behind receivers.
9. Running Game. The best player on this football team is DeAndre Washington and it's really not even close. He is always gaining positive yards and he's seemingly always able to find a seam to gain positive yards. Washington finished with 6.5 yards a carry last night and 85 total yards on 13 carries. Meanwhile, Justin Stockton and Quinton White struggled to find lanes that Washington seemed to find relatively easily. That's not a knock on those guys, it's going to happen for those other two guys, but Washington is already there. He's already got the vision that the other will eventually get. Still, Texas Tech only ran the ball 19 times and that was more than acceptable consider the early success that Texas Tech had throwing the ball. If Mahomes starts, I think we'll see a lot more Washington, Stockton, White and Rodney Hall.
10.a. 4th Down. Kingsbury had a late 4th down opportunity and he decided to punt. With about 3 minutes left in the game, Mahomes started a drive with a first down pass to Marquez, but a false start by Washington put Texas Tech at 1st and 15, followed by a Mahomes sack and two incompletions led to a 4th and 24. Twitter was afire as folks couldn't believe that Kingsbury didn't go for it from his own 25 yard line and 4th and 24. It's strange, as I'm sure that Kingsbury was the type of player that loved going for it and given the situation, it's one of those things that a player would love to go for it, but as a coach, things change. It makes fans cringe, but I think Kingsbury's decision speaks to the idea that he was more confident in the defense getting one more stop than Mahomes gaining 24 yards on a pass play. I think on the drive prior to this one, Kingsbury saw Mahomes struggle on a 3rd and 11 and throw that interception. If I had to guess, I think that those redzone interceptions and plays drive Kingsbury insane and he couldn't stomach the thought of another one. I'm conservative in that sense too as I would have put getting one more stop on the defense, but I get how a large chunk of you all wouldn't have just gone for it. Eventually, I think Kingsbury will trust Mahomes, but his first game wasn't that time.
10.b. This Felt Better. Don't ask me to explain this, but last night felt better. I don't know why I feel this way, but there was something less offensive about this loss than the Arkansas game. Maybe it is because the way that Arkansas just imposed their will against the defense and there was seemingly nothing that Texas Tech could do about it. The defense looked incompetent and that wasn't the case last night. I don't want Webb to be out for a period of time and I think I'm in the minority here. Either way, I don't get a choice in the matter and if it is Mahomes, let's do this. Really, it doesn't matter to me who wears the laundry, I want Texas Tech to get that win and I'm not real particular about how it happens. Still, to my original point, there were glimpses of greatness on offense and defense and for whatever reason, that makes me feel a bit better than last week. This doesn't mean that there aren't a ton of things to work on and they're pretty easy to figure out what they are. Manhattan, you guys are next.