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Matador Mailbag: What happens when your offense isn’t as offensive as you think?

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Offense, offense and more offense

Nikopoia

Prologue: Confusion. Disappointment. Anger. Texas Tech fan reactions have been all over the spectrum following Tech’s 41-34 loss to then #15 ranked Oklahoma State. Some of it due to the now 9 game losing streak (and 10 of the last 11), some of it misplaced frustration with Kingsbury’s play-calling and offensive struggles, some wondering why we can never close out a game... including the last three when we had an opportunity to put an opponent away.

To be fair, the OSU streak is incredibly disheartening. Tech should have won in 2015, could have won in 2016 and had every chance to win this year. What is surprising is that after 4 years of the offense carrying this program and putting up #1 total offense rankings the last two years, that all of a sudden, through 4 games, Tech being ranked 9th in total offense and 12th in scoring offense and “Kingsbury sucks”. I think Kingsbury has spoiled us to a point most programs can’t even imagine.

Are the issues inside the red zone troubling? Of course. Is it bad play-calling? Or is it poor execution?

I wouldn’t be objective if I didn’t say that some of the play-calling this year, and if I’m honest more than a few times in past years, were “interesting”. But at the same time, it could have been the perfect play call and the players just didn’t execute. Or, even the other team may have done something to blow up the play. I wouldn’t dare to say that even if I don’t understand a play call that I have any depth to say that I know as much as Kingsbury about offense or sees what he can’t when he is arguably one of the best offensive minds in the country. Sometimes, it’s just how it goes.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017

The easiest answer I can give lies in the fact that they were in the Mountain West for the majority of Gary Patterson’s career. Given Patterson’s defensive prowess, this made it easy for him to rack up the wins against mediocre opponents. TCU’s success in a lower conference is one of the main reasons we have a college football playoff today. Everyone held TCU up as the poster child for a playoff and while we still had the BCS it was believed that TCU needed to be in a bigger conference to get that chance. This, despite playing in BCS bowls and even winning the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin. Has to be noted that while TCU has had great success in recent years, their first year in the Big 12 was a huge wake up call to Patterson. TCU went 4-8 that year and it forced Patterson to change the way he recruited and an understanding that despite his handle on the defense he needed a big time offense to compete in the Big 12.

After the 2013 year, Patterson brought Doug Meacham over from Oklahoma State and Sonny Cumbie from Texas Tech. The very next year, they put together a double digit win season.

Baylor on the other hand are just flat out cheaters. The great shame of it is that a Red Raider led Baylor to that false success and in my opinion, placed a stain not just on Baylor but on Texas Tech as well. Because despite what he did at Baylor... he’s a Tech alum and a former Tech coach. If we are to claim our successes in the coaching arena, we surely cannot hide from our disappointments.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017


A lot goes into that. And I don’t dare say why a play was called over another because Kliff Kingsbury and Eric Morris are savants in that department. All I can say is, OSU was dropping 8 into coverage and rushing 3 for a good portion of the second half. If you can consistently get pressure with 3, you’re going to win. That lies with the offensive line more than anything. Given that look, is probably why Kingsbury continued to try to run the ball at times and eventually gave up on it when weren’t getting any production out of it against a 3 man front.

I wouldn’t put too much stock in the thought that the offense isn’t good. West Virginia did the same thing against us last year and this version of the offense (in conjunction with the defense’s performance) played much better last Saturday than against the Mountaineers in 2016.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017

Yes, it is still dynamic. Tech’s offense is ranked 9th in total offense and 12th in scoring offense.

As far as Nisby goes, which is who I think you are referring to, it seems like he hasn’t picked up the passing game yet. Remember, he came in at the end of the summer. He wasn’t on campus for spring practice, summer conditioning and missed part of fall camp. When Nisby is in, it’s almost always a run play and teams are playing off of that. Until he takes more of a role in the passing game, defenses will continue to load the box to stop him. Coupled with the offensive line’s lack of a push upfront are the leading factors of Nisby’s unimpressive start.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017

Couple of things here. Any team who loses a close game is going to look at penalties as a possible cause as to why. Unfortunately, the stats don’t back it up. Oklahoma State was actually penalized more than Texas Tech. I understand that some of the penalties were in crucial spots, but it didn’t come down to the refs as the reason why Tech lost. As I always tell my players, “If you ever have a question about the officiating at the end of the game, you didn’t do your job during the game.”

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017

One thing we know about David Gibbs is he doesn’t like to blitz. This was a main point of friction between him and Mike Smith back in 2015 and eventually led to Smith being let go from the staff. Gibbs is a secondary coach by trade and likes to play coverage over bringing pressure. He’ll do it in spots, but on average as he put it after the TCU game in 2015, “Some people want to zero blitz all the time (referring to Smith), but that just gets you beat quicker.”

As for the wide splits that were used under Leach, that’s a coach to coach thing. Kingsbury has never employed wide splits in his offense, at least since arriving in 2013. Don’t know why, but knowing how good Kingsbury is at offensive schemes, there is probably a reason.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017

I don’t think so. The mark of a good team is when confronted with a tough loss against a good team, is to take out some frustration on a weaker team. That being said, this Kansas team is dangerous. They played West Virginia very close for most of the game, beat Texas last year and they’ve added Doug Meacham (OSU and TCU OC) to the staff this year. Tech is better in every measure and I’d expect a double digit victory.

It worries me too. And the game against OSU isn’t the first time it’s happened since Kingsbury has been head coach.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, 1 October 2017

They are working on it. With the additions of Tre King and Desmond Nisby, they’ve started to incorporate “The Pistol” formation to allow them some of that downhill running out of the shotgun. Most runs out of the shotgun are normally draws and sweeps and unless you’re getting under center, there’s no other way than the pistol. It’s just not there yet.

Help is coming though. Kingsbury decided to redshirt two of his three big offensive line recruits this year. Jack Anderson is obviously starting at right guard, but next year he’ll have Will Farrar (6’4 299) and Dawson Deaton (6’5 297). Anderson and Deaton come from running systems in high school and should factor in heavily up the middle. Farrar at LG, Deaton at C and Anderson at RG. That is your projected core going forward.

Mail Call! Send us your questions about the tough loss against OSU, next week against Kansas... anything. We may even answer some on the podcast tonight.

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Sunday, October 1, 2017

Not sure why you’re just noticing. The last coach Tech had that gave the QB authority was Mike Leach. In fact, Luke Falk may be the last QB in the country that has complete control after the huddle is broken. Neal Brown made Doege “prairie-dog”, and every QB under Kingsbury has done so also.

We are not ranked #1 (or last) in penalties. That honor is with UTSA and UCF. We are ranked #125th in penalties. So I guess thats 5th in committed penalties. Derrick Willies might be responsible for at least half of those, unfortunately.

And this might be a bad time to mention it, but while Tech was replacing the turf, I buried Scott Jordan at the 10 yard line. Oops.

I still think we are on pace for my preseason prediction of an 8-4 regular season record with a possible 9th win at the bowl game. There is even a case to be made for 9-3. The unfortunate part about that is all the losses are against teams fans are demanding to beat.

At 3-1 right now, your for sure or highly probable wins the rest of the way are: Kansas, Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor, and TCU. You could interchange Texas and TCU, actually. Both are winnable, hence the argument for 9-3.

The losses would be against, West Virginia, Oklahoma and whoever you don’t pick between TCU and Texas. TCU is not as good as everyone thinks, in my opinion. Good? Yes. But they have to come to Lubbock against a much improved defense and they still have Kenny Hill as their QB. Texas on the other hand, seems to be figuring things out under new head coach Tom Herman. Always scares me when you play new coaches late in the year (See Matt Campbell, Iowa State 2016 for reference).

That’s not game management in my opinion. Game management is about when to take time outs or when to bleed clock. If you want to question play calling then you also have to question execution. Against Houston, Shimonek dropped a pass in Willies hands for a sure touchdown only to be dropped. Perfect play call but poor execution. That missed opportunity led to a punt in the 2nd quarter. And for an offense to be ranked 9th in total offense and 12th in scoring, I don’t think Kingsbury needs to be fixed. Definitely had missed opportunities in the last three games, but it’s a team failure. Sometimes on the play calling... sometimes on execution.



That’s it for this week. Thank you all for your questions. Hopefully I gave you some decent answers. Be sure to tune into the preview podcast for Kansas and keep a lookout for the next Mail Call sometime after the game on Saturday to send in your questions!