1. Ode to DeAndre. This is what this game is supposed to be about. You get a choice every day. Boss up or fold up. I’ll tell you now, that it’s better boss up and that’s exactly what DeAndre Washington did yesterday. Washington was dominant. Remember on Friday when I said that I don’t have specific memories, well, I’ll remember this game. Not any particular play, but I’m going to remember this game because Washington single-handedly carried this team today, running for 248 yards on just 27 carries, averaging 9.2 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns.
The 80 yard touchdown really was a thing of beauty and it was set off by one of his fellow seniors, Le’Raven Clark pulled from his left side to the right, blowing out the hole and sealing his block and the DeAndre did the rest, breaking tackles and paving his way to the endzone. This game, in a way, was a microcosm of Washington’s career, having to overcome adversity with the fumble to finish what he started. That’s exactly what he did and the exclamation mark on the game was absolutely a kicker. I was expecting to just sorta settle for running out the clock, but that’s not exactly how you boss out. You boss out by finishing what you start.
And Washington’s effect wasn’t just on the field. He was part of a player’s only meeting on Monday:
Yeah it was a players only meeting, guys just, whatever they had they had on their chest, they had an opportunity to say it. I think it was needed, and I’m glad the guys responded well this week at practice.
— Michael Strong (@stillstrongttu) November 15, 2015
2. 123. Texas Tech held Kansas State to 123 yards rushing. In fact, Kansas State had 73 of those 123 yards in the first half. That means that your Texas Tech defense held Kansas State to 50 yards rushing in the second half. Now, Kansas State was throwing the ball all over the place in the second half, but the same Texas Tech defense that would give up huge yards play after play for pretty much the entire season stood up today. And that was after not having Dakota Allen for the entire game. Make no mistake that this defense is going to be anchored by Breiden Fehoko. I tried my best to keep track of this for the entire game, but he doesn’t come off of the field. Not one snap. Branden Jackson and Fehoko stay on the field pretty much every snap. Even if Texas Tech is going on a pure pass rush type of set, it’s Fehoko, Jackson and Gary Moore. And If you need to feel any better about the situation, consider that Texas Tech gave up just 3.6 yards per rush on Saturday. Go ahead a flex a bit. It’s been a long time since you’ve been able to do that, so yeah, go ahead and flex.
3. 3,966. That’s how many yards Patrick Mahomes has thrown for in his first full year as the quarterback for Texas Tech. Mahomes thew for 384 yards on 33 of 42 with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. It was Mahomes first zero-interception game since Iowa State. That was a tough four game stretch. The biggest difference, at least for me, was the way that Mahomes was able to push the pace a bit, not necessarily being able to throw the ball deep, but he was able to push the offense much better than he had before. I think a large part of that was the way that Kansas State played Texas Tech very soft, giving Texas Tech a ton of space to work with. One of the things that’s really tough for Texas Tech was that the screen game has been virtually nonexistent with the more talented defensive backs of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. With that threat gone, Texas Tech did some damage. Mahomes is never going to be perfect, but he’s about as good as you’re going to get at this stage in his career. Mahomes has thrown 31 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, but he’s also run for 9 touchdowns. That’s 40 touchdowns for a true sophomore.
4. Those Special Teams. This game did not start off well, one where Kansas immediately returns their first possession for a touchdown. Without that score, I don’t know that Kansas State is able to keep the game as close as it is (duh, this is an obvious statement), but the normally reliable Kansas State offense wasn’t exactly automatic, especially in the first half, and that would have been a big hole.
But the special teams issues were really late in the game. A pooch kick resulted in Jakeem Grant having to down the ball on Texas Tech’s 9 yard line and the offense sputtered and the very next play was the wide open pass to Klein in the endzone. The next play was the onsides kick and Kansas State recovers on their on 48 yard line. Just half a field to make some big plays. Thankfully, Kansas State could only muster a field goal, but had they scored a touchdown, we might be talking about an entirely different outcome. Kansas State would go for the onsides kick again and thankfully, Ja’Deion High recovering the ball after Kansas State had an offsides and a low block on the first attempt. Texas Tech was somewhat saved by the fact that Kansas State would have had to execute the same play three plays in a row.
If anything, it was incredibly more nerve-wrecking that it needed to be. I don’t necessarily blame Darrin Chiaverini because football is a funny game and it is one where the ball bounces funny when you kick that onsides kick.
I suppose there should be some sort of dig at the coaching staff for not coaching this aspect better, but this is a tough criticism for me, not because I dislike to criticize, but rather because sometimes the other team just recovers the ball and you’ve got to do your best. And truthfully, the defense did hold.
The other huge special teams play that went in Texas Tech’s direction was Sam Atoe’s huge play to pin Kansas State deep on their 11th drive of the game on the kickoff after Texas Tech was desperate to score. Atoe made the initial hit, the returner made a move and Atoe came back to make the play and pin Kansas State on their own five yard line. The defense held again and Kansas State shanked the punt resulting in what was actually an incredibly important 48 yard field goal. There were some special teams gaffes, for sure, but there were also some huge plays that helped turn the game as well.
5. Terrific Linebacker Play. I thought this was maybe the best game I’ve seen the linebackers play all season, maybe include Arkansas as well. Think about this year and think about all of the times where it was church if the ball was on the 5 yard line. Just looking through my notes, Malik Jenkins had a stop on the goal line on Kansas State’s 6th drive. Hinton had stopped Kansas State on their 13th drive of the game, stopping Kansas State short of the goal line. Kansas State eventually scored on both plays, but it felt like it had been ages since Texas Tech put up much, if any sort of fight on the goal line and Hinton and Micah Awe stood out the entire game, particularly Awe. Awe has trouble with consistency, but he was at his best on Saturday, probably the best he’s ever played. As good as DeAndre’s game was for him, the same could be said for Awe, who registered 12 tackles, 10 of them solo tackles. Hinton only registered 3 tackles, but 2 of those were for a loss and he also had a sack. I hope that Dakota Allen is healthy for the Texas game because I think Texas Tech will need him.
6. Bethel’s Coming Out Game. I took notes, but I don’t write down every play, but it seemed like Nigel Bethel, II announced that this was his game. The first notice by me was a break on a pass that he darn near intercepted. Again, it seems like it has been eons since Texas Tech has had a cornerback be able to jump on a pass and Bethel did that numerous times. Bethel’s road to this game has been windy and bumpy this year, an early season injury and sitting in David Gibbs doghouse for the first part of the year kept him out way too long. And I don’t think that Bethel wasn’t in any sort of trouble, but Gibbs needed Bethel to play the way that Gibbs wants him to play, not the way that Bethel wants to play. Bethel all but announced that he was here this game, making at least 3 pass break-ups and being part of a nice tackle for loss with J.J. Gaines. Bethel had one bad play, and it was a terrible play, but there were a ton of great plays there too. And as good as Bethel was, it seems like Tevin Madison is on the bad end of almost every big pass play. I think I wrote his number down more times that I wanted and Madison is clearly struggling. I don’t know if this would be a situation to get Theirry Nguema some time in the nickel rather than Madison, but he’s having some issues making play.
7. Lauderdale Comes Back. After the game, Kingsbury said told WR Devin Lauderdale to stop messing around and be better:
We put it on him. We said enough is enough. He went through a little tough spell, last week he had some big drops, and we just asked him to man up, and he did. He practiced really well all week, came out and completed hard, blocked better than he has, so it was good to see. We’re going to need him to have that type of production if we want to be successful the next game.
This is all true, without Lauderdale or someone that can be a threat, the offense doesn’t roll. Lauderdale ended up with 94 yards and 10 catches (I can’t recall a drop, but he may have had one) to go with 1 touchown on the day. It’s amazing what happens when you have someone on the outside that the defense has to acknowledge and Lauderdale certainly played up to his potential this game as well. I’d also add that two of Reginald Davis’ catches came as a result of him going inside, which is something that I don’t recall this year. Rarely does Davis take his route inside, it’s almost always a sideline play and Davis did it twice. It takes a bit of gumption to go over the middle of the field and maybe this is what’s been holding Davis back for the year, that fear of going over the middle, but if he can be that guy as well, not just a streak down the sideline. In fact, Lauderdale’s 35 yard gain was a slant where he broke free. That’s another good thing for an offense that needs for the outside receivers to give the team something.
8. Utilizing Stockton. This is the way that I think you can best utilize Justin Stockton, believe it or not, he only had 2 carries for 12 yards, but it was Stockton catching balls out of the backfield or catching the ball on a jet sweep, but I thought that Kingsbury made sure to keep Stockton involved through the whole game because he is a threat, especially outside. Stockton ended the day with 5 catches for 67 yards and 2 touchdowns and the jet sweep at the 20 yard line that looked like it could have been stopped for a loss ended up going for all 20 yards for paydirt. I can’t envision Stockton being the running back next year, but having him line up all over the field and be a threat is a significant pressure on the defense.
9. Other Defensive Standouts. Before winding this up, I don’t think enough can be said about this defensive performance. Texas Tech allowed 412 yards against a Kansas State team that wasn’t any great shakes, only averaging 330 yards a game, but these 412 yards is a season low for for Texas Tech (Texas Tech allowed 414 yards against UTEP).
I haven’t even had time to mention that brutal hit that J.J. Gaines had to force the fumble that Jah’Shawn Johnson recovered. Gaines, after not playing much against West Virginia, ended up leading the team with 13 tackles, including joining Bethel on that third down tackle for loss that stopped Kansas State on 3rd and 5. Justis Nelson also had a very nice game, not perfect, but very nice, making a few plays on passes in the air. It helps tremendously if Nelson is covering bigger receivers that K-State employs. Jah’Shawn Johnson ended up with a late interception and 6 tackles, plus the fumble recovery. Johnson barely weighs 180, but he hasn’t played like it and he may be the best player on a defense that seems to have their best player all being freshmen or sophomores.
10.a. Emotionally Exhausting. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this stuff is exhausting and rewarding all at the same time. Every week, I do my best to not get too emotionally up or down. During the games, I’m a nervous wreck, with my notebook, frantically trying to write down important moments to make Sunday morning’s all that much easier. During the game I’m all but a nervous wreck, usually sweating despite the fact it’s not hot, and generally in a state of absolutely worry and concern. By the end of the game yesterday, I just wanted to sit there and just enjoy this one. My wife ended up taking the television and I actually watched 30 minutes of Gilmore Girls before I realized what I was doing and went and started to write these ten things.
As emotionally exhausting it is for me, and most likely you too, I can’t imagine what it is for these players and coaches who live this each and every week.
It’s somewhat strange to celebrate 6 wins. That’s not necessarily the bar, but I’m incredibly happy about 6 wins and the chance to watch this team go bowling. While other teams are worried about 9 or 8 or 10 wins, I’m happy to get 6, not because I have low expectations, but because I know how this game and profession is a grind and it takes years off of my life, even though I’m barely associated with the team. I’m just a guy with a laptop. Guys like DeAndre, Le’Raven, Branden, Pete and Micah deserve this. They deserve a nice send-off in a bowl game and I’m incredibly thankful for that.
Kingsbury beat the wizard and that’s no easy task.
- DeAndre Washington doesn’t do what he did without an offensive line blocking their tails off. Shout-out to Clark, Kaster, Morales, Brown and Okafor.
- Jakeem Grant is so close to 1,000 yards (I think) and I hope he gets it against Texas. He had 78 yards on 4 catches.
- The line struggled in the second quarter with the blitz and it looked a bit desperate for a while. Kingsbury and the offense adjusted nicely in the second half, i.e. more Washington.
- Texas Tech held Kansas State to 7 of 17 on third downs.
- Texas Tech converted all 7 red zone opportunities with touchdowns.
- I thought Texas Tech would be on the bad end of the time of possession in a big way, but Kansas State held a 30 second advantage in time of possession. I know that we tend to think of this stat as being meaningless, but it can certainly be indicative of how the Texas Tech defense didn’t allow K-State to hold onto the ball for huge stretches of the game.
- I loved the red jerseys and red pants.