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Matador Mailbag: Texas week is finally here

Week 3 is here, and we have all the answers to your questions as we get ready to face off against the Longhorns.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Following a tough loss against a good NC State team, the Red Raiders open up their conference slate against the rival Texas Longhorns.

Without further ado, let’s get to some of your questions!

TTU has been solid against the run the first three games. How do you think they will fare against the UT OL and Bijan Robinson? Also, is Bijan’s mustard worth the hype?

This will easily be the toughest running back room that we will face all year, and that’s the case for anyone that lines up against Bijan Robinson. Bias aside, I absolutely love watching Bijan play football, it just sucks that he’s in burnt orange. His contact balance is God-like, and that’s not an overstatement.

That being said, this offensive line isn’t anything to be worried about as it pertains to the matchup between our front seven. According to PFF as well as my own two eyes, their run blocking is awful. That could be the youth sticking out as well as the lack of talent, but they just haven’t been good this year. That doesn’t mean that Bijan can’t make a play on his own, but it’ll be much easier than before to penetrate and get into the backfield before he can get going.

Another thing that helps is the absence of Quinn Ewers. I myself am a fan of Hudson Card, but I don’t think he’s nearly as dangerous as Ewers, meaning we can focus on the run game more than we would’ve had to. The only guy that scares me as much as Robinson is Xavier Worthy, but Texas only threw the ball 23 times so I expect them to have a similar game plan this Saturday and try to force the run game. The only problem is that Tech’s defense is much better than UTSA’s, so we have a solid chance at bottling them up.

As for the Bijan Mustard, I haven’t tried it but I am a fan of mustard so maybe when he’s done at Texas I’ll get my hands on some.

At what point do we start holding Kittley accountable for offensive struggles and the play caling? Is it fair enough just to say that QB and OL is the sole source of the problem?

Kittley can take his fair share of the blame, as I know he has. That being said, there’s a reason that Tyler Shough won the starting job over Donovan Smith and it has shown these past two games. I was a bit more concerned with Kittley during the Houston game, but we found ourselves trailing against NC State and the play calling was just fine in my opinion.

Whenever I see play calling become a part of the discussion, I like to tell people to watch the game over and see what the offense was trying to accomplish. There are sometimes where it seems like Kittley tries to get too cute, but a lot of the time I actually think the play calling is great, but the execution is poor. Smith has to get rid of the ball faster and know when to throw certain routes, but he’s slow in processing still after having played almost a seasons worth of games in his career. His blitz clock is also non-existent as he will take some terrible sacks and not recognize that he’s been standing in the pocket for too long, which could be the coaching staff telling him to hang in there too often or just a lack of recognition.

I believe that the QB play and the Offensive Line have been a majority of the reason for the struggles. I’m not a coach so I will call it like I see it, there’s no way to disguise how bad the line can be when it comes to pass protection. These past two weeks have been played against some of the best front seven’s in the country, and our offensive line really likes to allow them to put their talents on display. Some of the guys that we thought would take that next step are more than a step behind the pass rushers way too consistently, so that isn’t helping our case at all.

Who do you think will be the impact player(s) on the offensive/defensive side(s) of the ball?

Our offense needs to go through our running backs, and I have all the faith in the world in both guys. I think that Sarodorick Thompson will have the biggest impact on offense because he just loves to have big games against Texas. He will be huge on the ground for us and he will also have an impact in the passing game coming out of the backfield against the Texas linebackers, who might be missing their best guy in Demarvion Overshown.

Reggie Pearson Jr. will be the guy with the biggest impact on the defensive side. He mainly stays at that free safety position while DTD travels to the slot more often, so Pearson Jr. will be key in containing the deep shots that Texas will want to take with Worthy.

Is (Behren) Morton a real option in the coaches’ minds this Saturday? Love (Donovan) Smith but I dunno that his tools are suited to this exact offense the way Morton’s are. Unless we want to lean into Smith running, he’s not as effective in what we do.

I believe that Smith will be the guy to start off this game due to his experience in big-time games over Morton, but that leash will be as short as it has ever been. This week more than any it seems like the coaches are really leaning into the notion that both guys will be used, so I definitely expect to see him early and not just because Smith is doing poor.

Smith has the tools to be a great quarterback at both levels, but he needs to get better with making decisions and processing things faster. He can fit in any offense and that’s a bonus for him, but when Morton has come in it’s been clear that he has those jitters that an inexperienced guy would be expected to have. He does have arm talent, but he still needs to get used to the speed of the college game and not just his own teams defense.