Football

Ten Things: Oklahoma Sooners 66, Texas Tech Red Raiders 59

Ten things on Texas Tech’s 66-59 loss to the Sooners.

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Ten Things

1. There Was Fight. I’m not trying to proclaim anything other than the fact that no matter what happened, this team didn’t spit the bit against Oklahoma. And I absolutely agree that the fact that I’m leading off with the idea that a team didn’t give up is problematic in itself, but here we are. In any event, after what happened last week against West Virginia it seemed that there was the distinct responsibility that this team was so overwhelmed by West Virginia that no team would show up. Kingsbury talked about tougher practices this week and at the very least, the team that I know showed up. The offense didn’t completely give up or have a handful of three-and-outs, while the defense, well, is the defense. And the offense really was this boxer who just refused to go down despite getting hit by punch after punch. It would have been so easy to cave, but they freaking battled. They fought and they, at the very least, restored some integrity, at least for me.

2. Mahomes Big Night. There has been some discussion after the game that Mahomes really wasn’t playing within the framework of the offense and Baker Mayfield was the better quarterback. I wrote after the game that Mayfield is certainly on the better team and by all accounts, the game that he had would have gone down in the books as an all-time great, 550 yards and 7 touchdowns. But even Mayfield was over-shadowed yesterday by Mahomes’ day where he threw for 734 yards on 58 completions in 88 attempts for 8.34 yards per attempt with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. Not only that, but Mahomes ran for 85 yards and added 2 touchdowns to that mix. That’s 819 total yards that Mahomes is responsible for yesterday.

And think of all of the passes that Mahomes had to throw away as a result of the offensive line giving up yards and space forcing Mahomes to scramble, sometimes almost immediately. It should be nothing less than amazing that Mahomes and this offense was able to put up 59 points considering the pressure he was under. And I should also mention that I think there’s progress for Mahomes here in that he didn’t take any bad sacks, the sacks that were drive-killers against West Virginia and Kansas State. Mahomes was quick to live another day and that alone made the offense significantly better.

3. Third Down Magic. That was ridiculous. Texas Tech had 25 third down attempts and converted 20 of them. That statistic alone is incredible and consider that Texas Tech was one of the best in the country at converting on third downs at over 50% and this display of converting so many third downs is most likely going to get Mike Stoops fired. By the official statistics, Mahomes was 7 for 7 on third and longs and 7-9 on third and shorts, while Mahomes was unbelievable, going 16 of 19 for 263 yards on third downs alone. That’s a game for some quarterbacks. That’s just third downs for Mahomes.

4. The Defense is Abysmal. I will run out of adjectives at some point of the season to describe yet another defensive performance. The defense gave up 854 yards and over 11 yards per play. Per. Play. The funny thing is that I felt that the defense played okay in the first half, forcing two punts and I was okay, but as the game wore on, the defense struggled to muster much of any sort of stop. The Oklahoma offensive line opened hole after hole for Joe Mixon to run through and considering that Oklahoma really only had two offensive players that were absolutely destroying Texas Tech, Mixon and Westbrook, you’d think that Texas Tech would key on them, but it seemed like play after play, they were not only gaining first downs, but gaining huge yards. Mixon especially was problematic on the line.

No turnovers. No pressure on the quarterback. Actually there was one quarterback pressure by Keenon Ward, but Mayfield had as much time as he wanted to find open receivers. It seemed as if Gibbs tried to send a message about his pass rushers by starting Zach Barnes and Talor Nunez over Gary Moore and Kolin Moore, but that didn’t really help. They all four played and there really wasn’t any noticeable difference between them. It is telling that Gibbs is willing to go with another former walk-on over some other player, but with Kris Williams out, there really weren’t any options. It’s hard to send a message when there’s no one to deliver the package.

And the linebackers would have brief fleeting moments, but the OU rushing game ran for 324 total yards on just 40 attempts. Malik Jenkins and Jordyn Brooks seeming played decent games, but just like the entire defensive line, there were too many times where they were completely blocked out of a play and then Mixon is in the secondary.

I’d love to give you specific answers, but at this point, I really don’t have a clue. I am guessing that the coaches are very much coaching them to be in the right place at the right time, but it’s simply not translating. It’s just not translating at all. The lack of push of the defensive line is something that I’ve thought for quite some time, which is that this team has no defensive ends in the sense that they are either playing out of position or playing incredibly undersized and, as a result of that size differential, are getting completely overwhelmed. Texas Tech’s defensive ends weigh in at 230 or so, while that’s not exactly small, but when you go up against a 300+ tackle for an entire game, the size disparity will wear on you and you just simply can’t make plays. Most defensive ends in this league are either 1) athletic enough to get past the tackles; or 2) strong enough to push. Kansas State is a perfect example. Both of their defensive ends are in the 250 range and stronger than an ox. There’s just no push and no pressure. When there’s no pressure, then teams can do as they please offensively and the Texas Tech offense has to be perfect.

5. Mason Reed Says Hello. Last week it seemed as if the offense was overwhelmed in pass protection and part of the solution was the significant playing time of fullback Mason reed. Reed was actually pretty spectacular and I’d guess that he grades out incredibly well for the plays that he was in the game. He was a proficient blocker and he was significant on Mahomes first scoring run, chipping a defender and then continuing his play down the field. Reed exhibited some pretty hands in making plays that I would not have expected from a fullback. Given the current state of the offense I’d expect more of Reed as that second running back.

6. Da’Leon Ward Says Hello As Well. This was a bit shocking in that of all thins, Da’Leon Ward gets the start and receives a majority of the carries for Texas Tech, which was only 8 total running back carries for the day, 7 of them by Ward. There’s been some discussion about how DeShaun Foster wants bigger running backs and I’d guess that, despite being pretty skinny, has the biggest frame of the three running backs on the team. This is why Dauphine transferred and if you’re in the blame game, I don’t know if you blame Foster or Kingsbury, but I’d guess that Foster is making the determination as to who starts, at the least a recommendation. With an offensive line that can’t hold a block, or really zone block consistently, at the very least, I suppose that you have to have a running back that can maybe make some plays on their own. I’m guessing that the coaching staff is thinking that this is Ward. And he did do a decent job of picking up the blitzes, I didn’t notice a ton of instances where he just whiffed.

7. Things Haven’t Worked Out. Prior to the season, we were all geared for the Justin Stockton show out of the running back position and Quinton White was supposed to be the jack-of-all-trades, while Demarcus Felton was supposed to be the water-bug sort of player that is incredibly difficult to cover and Dauphine was supposed to provide relief in all sorts of manner.

None of that has come to fruition and there’s only so much of this that I really blame them for, but my ire is with the offensive line that continues to underwhelm. The offensive line should be able to open holes for these guys, but the line care barely hold blocks long enough for Mahomes to make a somewhat normal and simple read, much less create significant space for running backs. I mentioned above that if you need blame for Dauphine leaving, then maybe look at oen of the coaches, but maybe the line is the culprit here. I’m guessing that the fact that the coaches know that it is an absolute necessity that the running back be able to block is a hinderance on them as coaches. They literally cannot play running backs that can’t block. And truthfully, the running backs do have to know this, but it’s come to the point that the running backs must be able to chip for a failing offensive line more than they should be able to run the ball. With this offensive line, that trait has literally outweighed the ability to run the ball.

And if you’re asking why Felton didn’t play, I’d guess with the mandate that the running back be able to protect rather than run the ball, this leaves Ward as the better option seeing that he’s just a bigger frame.

8. Amazing Inside Receivers. Even this morning, I’m shaking my head at how ridiculously talented the wide receivers are.

Keke Coutee: 10 receptions for 172 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jonathan Giles: 10 receptions for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Cameron Batson: 9 receptions for 99 yards and 1 touchdown.
Ian Sadler: 7 receptions for 75 yards.

That’s just your inside receivers, who have become the absolute stars of the offense in addition to Mahomes.

The funny thing is that I often see suggestions about taking Stockton out of the running back spot and putting him at a slot or inside receiver and which one of those four do you take out over Stockton? I know my answer.

The way that these guys fight for the ball and come back to the ball is such a stark contrast to how Reginald Davis and Devin Lauderdale play and their abilities to make plays is simply dumbfounding.

One other note, is that remember when Coutee was benched earlier in the year for failure to block like he needed? Some players sulk, other players figure out that they have to go do their job and just get better. Coutee chose the latter.

And one last thing, Devin Lauderdale and Reginald Davis are just okay players. There is a noticeable drop-off when Dylan Cantrell and Derrick Willies aren’t playing, there’s just too much inconsistency with those two. Davis and Lauderdale can be spectacular, but then they can also have times where they just disappear. All I can think about is Davis just watching that OU defender make that interception, like he has no conception of where the ball should be so he just sorta stays where he’s at.

9. The Open to the Second Half. I mentioned this in the post-game thread and I’ll just briefly mention how incredibly important that opening drive was in the second half where Texas Tech went 3 and out and then went on to score five straight touchdowns. The problem is that Oklahoma scored 5 touchdowns as well and that touchdown that the Sooners scored on a drive that lasted all of :30 seconds (or whatever it was) proved to be ridiculously significant. We’d probably still be playing football right now.

10.a. Penalties and Mistakes. Texas Tech ended the game, yet again, with 11 penalties for 92 yards. Many of them on the offensive line and this results in Mahomes having to make herculean efforts to overcome mistakes and penalties. The move to Paul Stawarz at right guard was disastrous at best, but he actually was back in the game the last 3 or 4 drives replacing Madison Akamnonu. The group of linemen really aren’t any “one” thing. They aren’t incredibly athletic to be terrific zone blockers. They aren’t monsters to swallow up offensive linemen. I’m not sure what they really want to be and makes you realize just how thin the line is in terms over overall talent.

10.b. Congratulations Zach Thomas. Lost in all of this was the induction of Zach Thomas into the Ring of Honor. Such a warrior. Wreck’Em!

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