Too bad we aren’t getting a bowl game, because dang we looked good yesterday! It was the win that we needed to finish this season on a positive note, cool Kliff’s seat down, to silence the haters, and show people that Texas Tech isn’t just going to lay down.
For starters, Mahomes seemed to be back to his normal self. 30 for 46 for 586 yards, eh, not bad. Just kidding, those are the kind of numbers that Red Raider nation is used to. As well as six touchdown passes for Mahomes, five of those being in the first half. Everyone will focus on Patty’s eye-popping numbers, but one big key in Tech’s victory over Baylor yesterday was our run game. Our run game was successful enough to take some of the pressure off of Mahomes and keep the Bears defense honest by making them respect the run. Da’Leon Ward came up huge in the rushing effort for Tech, going for 82 yards on 20 carries and putting a touchdown on the board as well.
I’m not sure what was slowing down our offensive production in the second half, because after scoring 41 in the first half Tech was only able to add 13 more to the scoreboard. Nonetheless, it was enough to get it done.
That brings me to my next point, Tech’s defense. If you just look at the score, it simply doesn’t tell you the whole story. 54-35 doesn’t quite scream shutdown defense, but our defense certainly stepped up huge in this game! They forced four total turnovers, 3 fumble recoveries, and one interception at the end to put the game on ice. We were only able to force two punts, but that’s because we forced FOUR turnover on downs, and on top of all of that, Baylor missed a field goal. Yes, I’m aware that we still gave up 35 points. However, if you are still complaining about how our defense played, you’re crazy. There is no way that you can call yesterday’s game a “poor” defensive performance. Our offense fueled the team, and the defense fed off of them and played some passionate football.
The only complaint that I could possibly have is that the reason our defense gave up 35 points is because they were on the field for a long time. That was due to our explosive first half offense. Four of Tech’s five first half touchdowns took :08, 1:12, :12, :13, and 1:33. The only exception to this quick scoring trend was the first drive of the game that took 4:38. It’s touch to keep a fresh defense on the field when five of your offensive drives were 1:33 and under. When you consider this, Gibbs and this Texas Tech defense played one heck of a game. You won’t hear me complaining about our defense after yesterday, that’s for sure.
The only other blemishes were Hatfield’s missed PAT after the second touchdown (he certainly made up for it), and Kliff’s gutsy 4th down fake punt in the first half. Going for it on 4th down deep in our own territory when you are up multiple scores would usually make my cringe. However, the fact that Kliff is confident in his play calling and feels comfortable rolling the dice like that gives me an extra boost of confidence as well. I personally am a fan of Kliff’s crazy play calls. His choice to go for it there may get scrutinized, but our defense stood strong, and at the end of the game it didn’t end up haunting us.
Football is indeed a three sided game, and for the most part this team was firing on all three cylinders against the Baylor Bears. I think I can speak for almost every Tech fan when I say FINALLY! We have been waiting all season for both the offense and defense to find their groove in the same game, and we finally got it. Our offense played as if they could smell blood in the water, and they simply went in for the kill. Our defense (I think we can all agree) played harder than we have seen them play all season, with maybe the exception of the TCU game. Last but not least, our special teams came in handy as well. We didn’t have a big punt or kickoff return that sparked the team (and frankly didn’t need it), but we did have Hatfield make two pretty routine field goals to essentially put the game out of reach.
I feel like Texas Tech, and this program answered a lot of questions with their win over Baylor. With the elephant in the room being Kliff’s job status, my hunch is that a win over Baylor bought him at least another year. I don’t know anything for a fact, but I believe that Kliff will return as the head football coach next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if both Kliff AND Mahomes return to the sideline come Fall of 2017.
This team showed that the performance against Iowa State was a one time thing (hopefully), and that this football program is truly on the upward trend (despite our 5-7 record). I wish we would have taken care of business against Iowa State, but it is what it is. Friday’s game made me proud that I am a Red Raider, and I am excited to see what this team has in store for the future. Here’s to another long nine month wait til we see our scarlet and black squad suit up again. Until then, Wreck’em Tech, and Guns Up!