Well, we waited 9 long months for football season to start again, and to think that’s it’s already a third over nearly brings a tear to my eye. It hasn’t gone quite as we expected, but it could be a lot worse. So, here are my main thoughts through the first 4 weeks of the 2016 season.
3-1 in this year’s Big 12 isn’t too shabby
I think I can speak for the vast majority of Raider Nation when I say that I knew it wasn’t going to be a total cake walk, but I did expect us to start 4-0. The one team that had the potential to trip us up early did, but a 3-1 start is nothing to be ashamed of in this year’s Big 12.
Take a second to look around the rest of the conference. There are only 2 undefeated teams left, that being West Virginia and Baylor, both of which nearly lost this past weekend. The so called “teams to beat”, Oklahoma, Texas, and TCU, have looked anything but that recently. Texas went from being in the national spotlight after week one to having rumors that Charlie Strong is gone after this year. I’m pretty confident that Oklahoma is going to find a way to bounce back, but they are clearly not as dominant as they have been in recent years. The same can be said for TCU. Gary Patterson’s defense has lost a little bit of it’s luster, letting a less than prolific Mayfield put up 49 on them.
Texas Tech is sitting there at 3-1, and third in the Big 12. Yes, those wins have been over sub-prime teams, and even that’s being generous, but let’s give our hindsight muscles a break and look forward to what may be. I’m excited to start getting into the meat of conference play, because this year it seems like no one is firing on all cylinders, which in turn makes everyone vulnerable. I truly believe that anyone, with the exception of Kansas and Iowa State has a somewhat reasonable chance to win the conference, because no one is being dominant yet. Yes we have two unbeaten teams, but that doesn’t mean they are dominant.
Kliff is a QB Guru
If last week didn’t prove this, I don’t know what will. I don’t know how he does it but boy, he sure knows how to. We had 2 quarterbacks throw for 4 touchdowns in a single game. I get that it was against Kansas, but at some point we have to stop making excuses and just admit that Nic Shimonek is probably pretty good. I’m not saying this is going to turn into a Bledsoe-Brady situation, but for once I feel like the entire season isn’t riding on Mahomes shoulder’s (no pun intended) anymore. It’s one thing if he new Mahomes was going to be out, and he had all week to prepare, but he hoped right onto the field. Honestly, if Nic came out wearing a number 5 jersey, I’m not sure I would have been able to notice a lack of offense. He looked, comfortable, accurate, and confident.
Obviously Kliff would be insane if he stuck with Nic when Mahomes is back to health. However, if worst comes to worst and Mahomes take another big hit that sidelines him for the rest of the season, I would feel uncertain, but I wouldn’t say that I would be worried. The fact that in the first game of the season Nic was having trouble just moving the ball and now hes slinging it all over the field, that tells me that Kliff knows what he is doing. I never doubted his ability to coach, but now there is no question that his quarterback program is elite.
With that being said, it brings me to my next point.
Our defense has to step up
I’m about to re break the already shattered record, but I’m gonna break it in a different way. Hear me out.
Everyone and their mom knows that our defense is sub prime. With this new unfortunate QB situation, it is going to highlight our defenses struggles even more. Nic was able to throw for 4 touchdowns last week, and obviously he could do that again against Kansas State, but I am skeptical as to how his success will translate into the next game.
With Mahomes, our defense struggled, but the explosiveness of our offense was able to mask that to some extent. With Nic, you would be insane to think that we are going to have the same level of offensive production week after week. So, if Pat was able to put up 55, and Nic can only put up 40, then our defense has to step up in order to relieve some of the pressure off of Nic’s shoulders. If our defense can play well enough to where 40 points gets the job done, then when Mahomes comes back, things will be that much easier. As for this week, you would think that if Mic can manage to put up 50 points, we should be able to get the win. Manhattan hasn’t been very kind to us in the last few visits, but I feel a change on the horizon.
Also, if there is one game out of the season that I would be relatively calm with Mahomes not playing at all it would have been Kansas. However, looking forward to what Nic could have been facing if Pat would have gotten hurt later in the season, we really lucked out with Pat missing the Kansas State game. Let’s just hope that he won’t miss much more than that.