1. Games Are Sometimes Supposed to be This Way. I think sometimes we’re a bit spoiled from the stand point that we tend to see a ton of offense and if the offense isn’t clicking (but other things are) then it’s still a disaster and something is wrong. Yesterday’s overtime win over TCU is more normal than not in other places, in a world of spread offenses that produce huge points and little defense, the roles were certainly reversed yesterday and the defense came up huge while the offense struggled to find a rhythm and that’s okay. These kids aren’t going to be perfect by any means, but the result was absolutely perfect. An overtime win over an opponent that thrashed you for 82 flipping points two years ago in the very same venue where you held said opponent to just 17 points in regulation and knowing that your offense is better than theirs to win that overtime.
For me personally, that’s as good I’ve felt about a win in a long time and yeah, the offense could have played better, but in the scope of how TCU played, this was the result and everyone else picked things up to produce an absolutely incredible result.
2. Two High Safeties. TCU played two high safeties for maybe 90% of their plays. That percentage could probably be argued with, but they played two high safeties a lot and it’s one of those things where I don’t know if that translated to the television, but with just three down linemen, TCU decided to play that extra man in the secondary and more times than not, there really wasn’t anyone open in the secondary. It was really an incredible implementation of defense, something that I really just hadn’t seen before in terms of coverage. TCU wasn’t blitzing like WVU did, but dropping everyone back in coverage. So, the call was for Texas Tech to run the ball and I think that if Kingsbury had to call it over again, he would have reduced the number of pass attempts from 39 to maybe 30 or 25 or so and asked that Da’Leon Ward to run the ball more.
But that didn’t happen and so, despite the coverage begging for Texas Tech to run the ball, there were times that I’m sure that Patrick Mahomes could have checked into a run, but there were more than a handful of times where Texas Tech was running five receivers and no back making the only run option Mahomes. At some point in the second half Kingsbury and Mahomes figured it out and that’s when Ward really started to carry the ball along with Mahomes mixing in a run and TCU didn’t really have an answer. The Horned Frogs were going to go with three down linemen for the game and there would be no deviating from that and that was their eventual downfall. It was sweet.
3. Defense Success? The result of the defense was really terrific. They held TCU to just the 17 regulation points and 400 total yards, less than 5 yards a play running the ball. The defense was helped tremendously with their kicker missing three field goals, that’s 9 points that they left on the field.
I’d also add that Kenny Hill was terrible. If his first option wasn’t open, he couldn’t adjust. Literally, he was clueless if his first option wasn’t open and of the incompletions, it was because his first option wasn’t open.
And that’s where the success of the Texas Tech defense starts. I can’t say with any certainty that defensive coordinator David Gibbs took that first option away or that he knew what that first option was, but you can credit the secondary for that because despite being a mis-mash of parts, from juniors to true freshmen, to walk-ons, they played terrifically and they covered the heck out of the TCU receivers. Again, they weren’t perfect, but they played really well.
I don’t know how this would have played out with a quarterback that was competent making his second read, but this quarterback, Hill, and his successor, Sawyer, couldn’t find anyone open after the first option and despite this really being TCU’s failure, that’s defensive success too.
4. Defensive Success! So yes, despite TCU having their own issues offensively, you should still bathe in the light that this was a defensive success. Malik Jenkins and Jordyn Brooks were absolutely terrific at linebacker and we finally saw the Ondre Pipkins that I thought we would see after the first game. Pipkins was very active, as was Breiden Fehoko, but especially Pipkins. Jenkins and Brooks seemed to be in a ton of plays and Jenkins had 14 tackles while brooks had 10. As Texas Tech morphs into a 4-2-5 in covering spread offenses, these two are proving to be really terrific options. I thought that the play of Douglas Coleman was terrific. He doesn’t look like a true freshman covering receivers and he is arguably the most athletic of the defensive backs that plays for Texas Tech.
In the first overtime drive, Coleman allowed that touchdown pass, just failed to look back at the ball that he very easily could have deflected had he looked back. But that’s a tough thing to learn as a true freshman, and what I can say is that he was right there, right there in terms of coverage. Coleman would come up big in the second overtime drive as TCU tried a pass over the middle and Coleman was right there to defend that pass and forced a field goal. A missed field goal. That’s huge, to come back from a play where you give up a touchdown to then helping make the game-saving defense on a reception that would have extended that TCU drive.
Oh, and that interception in the end zone from Douglas was absolutely terrific. Just a terrific play on the ball.
5. Struggling Passing Offense. There’s no question that Mahomes struggled this game, but as mentioned above, they persevered and they eventually figured it out. As mentioned above, the TCU defensive performance really was terrific and there were few times that there were open receivers and maybe that will be your takeaway, that Mahomes just has to be better. But I still think about all of the times that Mahomes has literally carried the team on his back when the defense wasn’t playing well and sometimes Mahomes deserves to be carried a bit too.
That touchdown he ran in the first overtime drive was absolutely a thing of beauty. Not everyone can do that. But Mahomes did do that and it was absolutely terrific. It was what put pressure on TCU to go out and have to score a touchdown of their own. So when it mattered most, Mahomes did his part in this game, the defense did their part and Clayton Hatfield did his part.
6. Overtime. There was a decision there, when Texas Tech scored with 1:28 left on the clock, I asked my friends next to me if Texas Tech should go for the win and go for two. The obvious answer is no, kick the extra point and live for another day. And it was increasingly evident, at least to me, that this game was assuredly headed to overtime and if the game got to that point, there was no question, at least for me, that Texas Tech would walk away victorious. The drive that was the eventual winning field goal was Kingsbury and company absolutely having a tremendous amount of success in Hatfield to nail a field goal that TCU couldn’t.
But I don’t want to skip over that first overtime drive, where Mahomes scampered in for a touchdown. As mentioned above, not everyone can do that, and Mahomes can and again, sometimes the result is better than the input into the game, but it means a helluva lot to these guys. Mahomes on that touchdown:
“It was too much, honestly. I had something where I just kind of went crazy, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I’m a competitor and I want to win, so it was a big touchdown and we wound up getting the field goal at the end and winning the game.”
His emotion was too much.
Oh, and the elation of the defense with that TCU kicker missed that second field goal was terrific. There was a definite breeze that prevailed through the game, not a terrible wind, but a South wind to keep the flags flowing most of the game. I would almost guarantee you that this wind played in the head of the TCU kicker, while for Hatfield, this was just another day on the job. After the game from Hatfield:
“Just ‘please let me make this one, please. This is the one.’ You know, this is the one we’ve dreamed about and you’re just hoping it goes in and hoping you’ve practiced enough and that it pays off.”
Just keep the ball in the middle of the field was the last request from Kingsbury to Mahomes. Field goal good. A terrific feeling.
7. Ward Emerges. This was the coming out party for Da’Leon Ward, who carried the ball 23 times for 98 yards as well as 8 receiptions, which led the team, for 49 yards. Ward really was good, for the most part, other than the early game fumble, he was finding yards and there’s no doubt that he gets the idea of running in a zone blocking scheme better than the other backs and that is probably the biggest reason why Ward is playing over Demarcus Felton and Justin Stockton. He just gets the vision of what the play is supposed to be.
8. After the Game. After the game, as I was walking out of the stadium to my car, I happened upon the Texas Tech players’ bus and this was a terrific scene. Sometimes we forget how emotional this game is, not just for these guys, but for their families, who come out in mass to support their sons and friends and nephews or whoever.
Lots of families hugging and talking with their sons. pic.twitter.com/TIdRzqvtSk
— Seth Jungman (@SethC_J) October 30, 2016
Lots of hugging of necks and smiles and relief. This is an emotionally draining game and these sorts of moments are really terrific, a glimpse that we don’t often get to see.
9. Just Proud of Them. Kliff Kingsbury on what he said after the game:
“I just told the defense how proud I was, because you do the best you can to insulate them from all the noise, but it gets to them. But their focus, their determination, it was outstanding. I’m just very proud of them.”
10.A. Lots of Emotion.
10.B. Quick-Hits. The offensive line played significantly better, especially running the ball. They were terrific from that respect . . . How long has it been since we didn’t really talk about the receivers? Somewhat fitting that the inside receivers did the grunt-work today, but the outside receivers got both touchdowns, a beautiful pass, Mahomes’ best pass of the night to Reg Davis and the slant to Dylan Cantrell to tie the game in the 4th quarter were terrific . . . had no idea that Gary Moore and Devin Lauderdale didn’t even travel to the team and this wasn’t injury related . . .