Football

“Monday” Morning Quarterback : LSU

In our final installment of the Monday Morning QB for the 2015 season, we talk about the offensive line, the defense and our expectations of 2015.

While it’s not Monday, we will be armchair QB’ing this LSU game as we put a bow on the 2015 season, look back on our expectations from 2015, and looking forward to progress in 2016.

Offensive Line

Micheal_LSRR – On senior day, I remember looking up at the screen and seeing so many senior offensive linemen. I thought this was a bad thing. Guys like Le’Raven Clark and Jared Kaster will be missed. The unit, as a whole, fell apart a bit in the bowl game. This happened a few other times this season against Baylor and OU, specifically, but if memory serves me well, a lot of younger guys were called up due to injuries. When younger guys see a good share of playing time, you can really start to see some progress the next season (i.e. Texas Tech Basketball).  Even so, I think we may be in for a bumpy ride at the beginning of the year.

Brian DonCarlos – It’s been said about a thousand times on the site, but how about Justin Murphy? If his loss caused that much of an impact, I’m incredibly happy we’ll have him for another 3 years. Everyone should also take comfort in the fact that at no point next season should we be competing against a defensive line of LSU’s caliber. We’ll go ahead and get this out of the way: it’s really hard to replace 4 starters on the offensive line, especially one sporting a probable 1st round draft pick, no matter what kind of talent you have waiting in the wings. But rest assured, there is plenty of talent. Baylen Brown & Justin Murphy will be returning to anchor the line, and Conner Dyer & Madison Akamnonu (spelled right on the first try!) I believe both preserved their red shirts, and will be a huge part of your Red Raider offense in the coming years. Add to that Terrence Steele, Paul Stawarz, Cody Wheeler, & Robert Castaneda, and the depth is most certainly there. I should also note that the reason for my optimism, despite the youth, stems from 2 big factors: Lee Hays & Patrick Mahomes. Hays is one of the best, most consistent coaches on that staff, and if he has an entire offseason to work kids as starters, you’ll have a damn good unit. Remember what this OL looked like before the injuries? And as for Mahomes, as he proved on Tuesday night, he can definitely make your porous line look a bit better than they are with his wheels.

Meestah Rogers – This was a rough outing for the offensive line. The Tiger defensive front stunted and twisted all night and confused the line all night. Meanwhile, Mahomes was able to display his insane athletic ability, and much like what was covered in the broadcast, Mahomes will become more of a household name going forward. He still took his hits and their defenders were in his face all night (something like 20 pressures, 11 hits and 6 sacks). I was actually thinking Mahomes might come out later in the game because of all the hits he was taking and the game was getting out of reach.

It will be difficult to replace guys like Kaster and Clark, but much like what Brian said, that unit will have nearly 9 months to work out who fits where and get their cohesiveness down. I, too, trust in Lee Hays’ ability to get a solid group together and look forward to seeing the first glimpses here in a couple of months at the spring game.

Defense

Micheal_LSRR – I was just about as excited as Gibbs was during those big stops when Tech was still in the game against LSU. Maybe they don’t show him on camera as much as they did that night, but I didn’t know he was that animated. I loved it. Defense is about intensity. To echo Brian, I’m just so glad he’ll be back to build a little bit of consistency on this side of the ball. They will be better on defense. They just have to be, and I think young guys like Jah’Shawn Johnson and Nigel Bethel will help lead the way.

Brian DonCarlos – Only one way to go but up. Please, please, please let there only be one way to go but up. The best news is that every position group has a major young building block, sometimes a few. Fehoko seemed to get more comfortable as the season went on, and will hopefully continue to terrorize offensive lines for the next few years. He does, however, desperately need somebody to help take advantage of the double teams he’s been drawing. Dakota Allen & D’Vonta Hinton are both very exciting, and I’m happy they’ve both found the field as much as they have at their age (also, how about that Allen pick on Tuesday?). And Jah’Shawn Johnson may be my favorite player on the defense; I can’t wait to keep watching him. Now young talent is great and all, but it doesn’t mean too much if the coaching doesn’t accompany it. It’s been a loooong time since we’ve had the same DC two seasons in a row, and light all the candles you can that it will help as much as we’ve all been hoping it would. Gibbs’ philosophy seems to be taking hold with the turnovers, but something has to be done about the rush defense. The defense just has to be acceptably good; the offense can take care of the rest.

Meestah Rogers – My main takeaway from this defense (pun certainly intended) was the vast difference Gibbs was able to secure in the turnovers. Without looking at the exact stats, I feel like Tech improved in both creating fumbles and interceptions. I’m really interested to see who Gibbs brings in to complete his staff. I think Dewhurst might get that promotion as he was the only other coach brought over from Houston besides Spavital. It’s too bad the DL coach from Missouri is headed to one of the Florida schools as I thought he would have been an excellent addition, albeit outside of Gibbs’ coaching tree. There are some young athletes to be excited about in their progressions like Fehoko, Hinton, Allen and Johnson.

Outside of the turnovers, there wasn’t much improvement on the defensive side of things, but Gibbs delivered exactly what he said he would. I would anticipate much of the same for 2016, maybe a little higher in the rankings while still focusing heavily on creating more turnovers.

2015 Expectations

Micheal_LSRR – For all 12 of my Twitter followers, this will be a bit of a rehash from Tuesday night. I went in to this season expecting 5 wins and hoping for 6. After the Holiday Bowl, I went into 2014 expecting 7 or 8, so I was a bit more skeptical prior to this year. I had no plans on Tech winning in Austin or Lafayette. I thought they might sneak one by Kansas State or WVU (which they did). Expectations change as the season progresses, but that is where I was before the first snap against Sam Houston State. Fast forward to now, and I feel like this team accomplished a lot while fielding the one of the worst defenses statistically in all of the FBS teams. My highlights: Arkansas, post-Arkansas-suit-and-flower-in-lapel Kingsbury, Texas (IN Austin ON Thanksgiving), becoming bowl eligible, Mahomes, Grant, Washington, seeing a huge amount of progress in defensive turnovers, hanging with No. 11 TCU until the last few minutes, watching Kingsbury progress as a coach and a leader of these players, Clark’s 2-pt conversion, the fake victory formation touchdown… Sure, you always want more than what you get, but in a technical sense, this team exceeded my expectations.

Brian DonCarlos – Overall, I’m actually very happy with the season. I thought 8 wins was the ceiling, and I was always worried that another 4-8 could happen. But the offense looked so much better than they did last year, and, despite the fact they were mostly statistically worse than 2014, the young defenders have shown flashes of what we need. On top of that, Kliff got to exorcise a few demons. Arkansas was circled in the offseason, and Tech came and hit them in the mouth on their own turf. The “Kingsbury Revenge Tour” almost continued if not for an absolutely freak play against TCU the next week. Can you imagine how this season would have gone if not for that? Tech beat K-State for the first time in what seems ages, and a lot of really close games were played this season, more so than 2014, and that has to be encouraging. But most of all, Kliff finally got a Tech team to win in Austin. While the future remains to be written, it’s important to give that the credit that it’s due. While a bowl win against the SEC would have been an incredibly nice bow on the end of the season, I’m very satisfied with how things went, defensive woes aside. And if you still have any qualms, just remember two names from 2015: Jakeem Grant & DeAndre Washington. If they don’t light any sort of warm gooey feelings inside of you, I don’t know what will.

Meestah Rogers – I must admit, I tend to get caught up in the emotions of everything and go through some major ups and downs as the season progresses. First, seeing how Sam Houston State was able to run the ball like they did was disheartening. And then the way they handled UTEP and Arkansas and then how they very nearly beat TCU had me thinking that there might be something more to this season. And then reality hit when we saw them get their butts handed to them in Arlington and in Norman. Solid wins against Iowa State and Kansas State, head scratchers against Kansas and West Virginia, and then the thrilling victory on Thanksgiving night in Austin against the Longhorns. I think I remember coming into this season thinking we could see an improved Texas Tech team and still have a repeat of 4-8, while 6-6 was attainable. 7-5 was a decent uptick from 4-8 but there were certainly some disappointing moments throughout the season. Much improvement to be had and I think the schedule sets up for another season where the team could be improved but the record not reflect it (although having OU and UT at home can’t hurt). Back to 2015, I think all things considered, I am content with how things turned out for 2015. I still want to see some improvement on defense and special teams and there are plenty of key players to replace, but 7-5 in 2015 is a fine place to set up Kingsbury’s run at turning things around on the South Plains.

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