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Will Texas Tech bounce back this weekend and #TakeBackTheJones?

Matt Wells and the Texas Tech Red Raiders will have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in almost 7 seasons.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

I woke up in a Soho doorway

A policeman knew my name

He said you can go sleep at home tonight

If you can get up and walk away

I staggered back to the underground

And the breeze blew back my hair

I remember throwin’ punches around

And preachin’ from my chair

Well, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who?)

I really wanna know (who are you? who, who, who, who?)

Tell me, who are you? (who are you? who, who, who, who?)

’Cause I really wanna know (who are you? who, who, who, who?)

The Who’s 1978 hit “Who Are You” (most commonly and unfortunately known now as the “CSI song”) was inspired by an incident lead singer Pete Townshend experienced after going out with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols after hours of financial haggling to keep his band together. Townshend was eventually found passed out in a Soho street, which is how the song begins.

And I think it fits the situation the team finds itself in right now.

Who are these Red Raiders? Who is Matt Wells? Does he have the ability to instill confidence in this team that they can bounce back after a horrendous loss?

We have a really good opportunity to find out this weekend against a ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys football team coming to The Jones, in what could be our first chance to see if Matt Wells can fulfil his promise to “take back The Jones”.

First Down - The Enemy:

Kansas State v Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Oklahoma State is led by Mike Gundy, who enters his 15th season as head coach of the program. Mike Gundy is famous for being 40-plus years old and a man with a mullet, but he also has guided what was largely mediocre program to a perennial winner, with six 10-win seasons under his direction.

Gundy currently has the Cowboys re-tooled and running nicely in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year in the program. Currently sitting at 4-1, the Cowboys only loss came at the hands of the Texas Longhorns in Austin and only by 6. Make no mistake, the Cowboys may not be as good as the two giants in the conference, but they should not be trifled with.

One thing that has always impressed me with Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State team is that the offensive coordinator position has essentially been a revolving door since 2010, yet Gundy just grabs some obscure name from a non-football powerhouse and the thing just keeps humming. This time, it’s Sean Gleason who was plucked from Princeton where his offenses averaged 47 points a game and 295 yards rushing a game.

McNeese v Oklahoma State Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

In this system, Oklahoma State almost exclusively lines up in 11 and 12 personnel, which would be one running back with two tight ends and two receivers, or one tight end with three receivers. With that known, and Texas Tech’s evident weakness to this point in defending the stretch run game, I would expect to see OSU take advantage of that with a lot of stretch and outside zone runs with pulling lineman to the boundary or short side of the field. This was effective against the defense late in the Arizona game and all throughout the Oklahoma game for large chunks of yardage, as well to set up the play action pass. With a combo like Sanders and Hubbard in the backfield, you can bet OSU is going to see if Tech has made any adjustments to stop it.

Interesting note: The Cowboys claim one national championship in football. In 2016, the AFCA decided that, since Army couldn’t necessarily win the National Championship, they would accept paperwork from other schools who could reasonably claim it. Oklahoma State was the only school to submit paperwork to the AFCA and was retroactively awarded a claim to the 1945 National Championship.

Next thing you know, OSU will claim to have won WWII, as well.

Why couldn’t Army claim the National title? Well, because in 1945, Army was a little too busy defending our country in World War II to actually play football games. So, as Oklahoma State is naturally accustomed to doing, the Cowboys stole a national championship from a team that was in an actual world war.

Congratulations on that 1945 National Championship, OSU. I’m sure you have some argument of how you deserve it over folks actually dying for our country that is very riveting.

Second Down - Key Players:

Redshirt Freshman QB Spencer Sanders has a stat line that reads a lot like Khalil Tate’s when Texas Tech faced him in Arizona. Sanders is completing just 64.5% of his passes for 1,043 yards and eight touchdowns, but with five interceptions. Like Tate, Sanders has shown the ability to beat you with his legs if you give him any window of opportunity with 380 yards rushing and two touchdowns. While his arm is rather suspect, it’s not terrible.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Catching passes from Sanders is all-Big 12 candidate WR Tylan Wallace, who could be the best wide receiver in the Big 12. Wallace owns a 12.1 YAC/rec and 338 total after-catch yards, which is second most in the FBS. When watching Wallace, I was really impressed with his footwork on his amazing first cut to get the corner to bite down and can use his speed to break past him in when he is defended one-on-one. It’s almost mesmerizing how great he is at creating space for his quarterback.

As I alluded to previously, the OSU system is designed around the running game. And boy howdy wouldn’t you know it, the Cowboys have what amounts to the Big-12’s best running back in Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard has a real chance of eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark on the season by halftime of this weekend’s game, and were only midway through the 2019 season. Hubbard is a special talent in the backfield and with Gleason’s system, you better believe they are going to feed him early and often Saturday.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Oklahoma State Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma State defense is coordinated by Jim Knowles, in his second year after leaving Duke. The standouts on the defensive side of the ball are linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga and safety Malcom Rodriguez, who lead the Cowboys in tackles with 42. Ogbongbemiga has logged 3.5 sacks through five games so, like Arizona, the defensive pass rush isn’t anything to write home about. On the other hand, with Texas Tech’s offensive line not playing well at all in 4 games, I expect the battle of the trenches to decide this game.

Third Down - By the Numbers:

  • Texas Tech leads the all-time head to head against OSU 22-21-3, however OSU owns the longest streak at 9 wins from 2009-2017. The last time we beat OSU in Lubbock, I was a student and wasn’t old enough to (legally) drown my sorrows in the cheapest bourbon Pinkie’s Liquor store had.
  • Hubbard surpassed the 200-yard mark for the third time in just five games and his 296 yards Saturday was sixth-most single game rushing yards in program history. Barry Sanders still holds the OSU record with a 332 yard day in 1988 against, who else, but Texas Tech.
  • Texas Tech has not beaten a ranked opponent in Lubbock since September 12, 2013, when the Red Raiders beat No. 24 TCU 20-10. They have lost 11 matchups since then. Absolutely inexcusable.

Fourth Down - Prediction:

I want to hope that Matt Wells and David Yost can draw up a game plan to fit Jett Duffey’s strengths, instill confidence in their players in that game plan and that this game is completely winnable. I hope they can do what Tech really hasn’t been able to do in football in some time – respond and bounce back from a loss.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen. Jett Duffey is in his first week of getting all the first team snaps in practice and I just think it’s going to take some time for him and Yost to get a game plan that fits.

I think this game comes down to who wins the battle in the trenches and which side can game plan with their personnel on the offensive side better. Both of which Texas Tech has not done extremely well in any game this season, so I have to go with my gut. Texas Tech will play better, but not well enough to win.

Oklahoma A&M/State/National Championship stealers, 30

Texas Tech Red Raiders, 24