1. You Need Answers. My brother and his wife came up from Austin to visit so we had plans to go to my parents’ house after the game. And that’s what we did. The game ended. We got the boys ready to go and we left. Thankfully, with good conversation and kids to distract you, I didn’t think about the game really at all. When we got home, I didn’t open the laptop like I normally do, opting instead to just watch a little bit of football before falling asleep. I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. to start writing and my alarm on my phone, even with the extra hour, dutifully went off. I laid in bed for thirty minutes wide awake dreading this moment. This isn’t fun for me in any respect and the idea of writing about something that isn’t fun isn’t appealing at all.
When you write about a team, there’s this balance of hope and realism that’s really tough to capture. Hope never disappoints and when things are going well then it is pretty easy. The realism portion of this or what you think as the truth can be viewed as harsh criticism when things aren’t going well. As someone who has run a blog for a long time, that harsh criticism doesn’t get as many clicks as hope. I’ve never altered my writing to accomplish this, luckily I am somewhat geared this way as a person, to be more hopeful about sports than I am most things. Whenever I write and it sounds too hopeful or it perhaps sounds as if I’m being too positive, that truly is my personality showing through the writing.
I stayed in bed an extra thirty minutes because I knew that I wasn’t going to be hopeful today.
Because people know that I write and I spend so much time doing this, people ask me what I think about things and that happens more so when things don’t go well. People are looking for answers, answers that I really don’t have. I’m much like you all in that I really don’t have any answers. I don’t have a good reason why the defense gives up 400 yards rushing. I can’t tell you why the offense can’t get the ball in the end zone on a more regular basis. Oh yeah, I’m sure that I could absolutely try and break down things technically and give you answers, but those aren’t the type of answers that most people are looking for.
Most people are looking for bigger answers and at this point, I don’t have them. The reason why I don’t have answers is because I have zero control over the decisions that are ultimately made.
I always get feedback after a game and people are quick to point out (and as an aside, these opinions aren’t wrong) that it’s the offense’s fault for failing to score points or it is certainly on the defense for giving up 650 yards of total yards yet again. Losses are typically no just one thing and a combination of thing and when the losses mount like they have this year, it is a culmination of things, without a doubt. And that’s the bigger problem. It’s not just the defense. It’s not just the offense. It’s not just the special teams. It’s all of it.
That’s part of the reality that we sorta have to face, which is that it is a culmination of these things, a totality of the circumstances that have created this loss.
2. If It’s a Totality of Circumstances . . . So yeah, if it’s a totality of circumstances then yes, that means that most likely wrong decisions are being made at the top. The special teams has seemingly been a disaster for the entire year, there has been a mistake with the special teams for what seems like each and every game. Joe Robinson and his practice blow horn haven’t made a positive impact more times than not. An important mistake. The offense has sputtered over significant stretches. The offensive line is a virtual mess and seems to be one where if it were any other quarterback, we’d be complaining about the inability to get off a throw in three seconds. But even the quarterback isn’t without fault, not seeing a wide open player in a critical down to win the game is a mistake. It’s a critical mistake. The offensive line crashing down around him having to make a play. The defense giving up big play after big play. I could go on.
It’s a totality of the circumstances. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.
3. I Think It’s Time. I’ve been in the camp, for the longest time, that Kliff Kingsbury offers the greatest opportunity for this team and program to push ahead in this time period of uncertainty with the Big 12. It would seem that Texas Tech has the most opportunity to be great with Kingsbury at the helm. Before the beginning of the year, Kingsbury often said that this team was his most talented team to date at Texas Tech. Those types of things aren’t typically said by Kingsbury, especially unprompted. I think it’s clear that this season has not gone according to his expectations either and I think that’s problematic from the standpoint that if anyone should know what he has, both offensively and defensively is Kingsbury. He should know that and that’s the problem.
We don’t need to give Kingsbury a truth serum because he’s already told us what he thought about this team before the season even started. And now that it’s failed to live up to his and our expectations, what are we supposed to do. This, isn’t acceptable. The totality of these circumstances aren’t’ acceptable.
I’m biased because I love everything that Kingsbury is about. He is a former player, and not just any player, but a player that was one of the best. He came back home to lead this program. No one wants him to succeed more than me and I think I’m at the end of the road on this.
I’ll be here win or lose, regardless of who is the head coach because I love this grind, but it is the totality of the circumstances that have led me here. It’s not one play, or one side of the field or just one circumstance, but a totality of them.
It’s all adding up in a way that I really don’t want it to add up.
4. Small Things. I could certainly complain about the small things. The fact that the ball was spotted in odd and weird ways at least two times. A phantom illegal procedure on Steele that seemed to be how he was lining up the entire game. There were oddities to how the game played out, but that seems to be ignoring the larger issues. I’ve almost never come back on a Sunday to complain about the refs and I won’t start with this game.
5. It’s A Beautiful Thing When It Works. I mentioned this after the game, but I think it bears repeating how great the offense started out. The initial three drives or so were things of beauty. The touchdown drive where Cameron Batson scored was one of the prettiest drives I can recall. It was the perfect mix of inside and outside, of running and passing or play design and execution. And it seems like when those first 25 or 30 plays end, and the defense adjusts a bit, then Kingsbury gets a bit lost play calling. It seemed as if teams have figured out Texas Tech’s kryptonite and until Kingsbury figures out how to exploit it, I can almost guarantee you that you’ll see three more weeks of this type of frustrating offense because defensive coordinators talk and they watch film. When Kingsbury’s script ends, it seems as if his creativity play-calling ends too and that’s probably the most disturbing thing about this. When he can sit down and draw it up, it’s nearly unstoppable, but when then script ends and he has to improvise there aren’t a lot of answers.
6. No Excuses for the Defense Either. I wish that I had something to say that would help me feel better about the defense. They did make stops and Douglas Coleman’s touchdown fumble return was one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen (and he may have been out of bounds at the three, but whatever), but the direct result of that was a play where Foreman was literally going to score on third and goal from their own 25 or something ridiculous. Coleman carried the defense for 10 yards almost into the end zone. Coleman’s hard work and fortune was the direct result of being embarrassed by the offensive line and Foreman. We can say that the defense made enough stops, but there’s this acceptance of mediocrity that isn’t acceptable to me and I’m at that point with the offense and the defense. I’m not going to accept 650 yards and 45 points of offense with over 400 yards rushing. Okay, you got some stops, but that’s what is supposed to happen. You’re supposed to get stops and not let opposing teams run for 400 yards against you. That’s not normal. Oh, sure, the offense is supposed to pull it’s weight too, if it isn’t clear, I’m not absolving them in the least, but saying that the defense made enough stops while giving up 650 yards and 45 points is defeatism at it’s best. And I’m just as responsible for thinking this, I know I’ve said it a handful of times, but that comes to an end.
7. We Need Answers. The theme of yesterday’s press conference was “I don’t know” and that’s troubling. I know that this is Kingsbury’s go-to line when he doesn’t want to give an answer before watching film, but reporters don’t normally come back to this after a game and it’s a good way to deflect.
Q. Why do you think Pat had so many misses today?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I don’t know, I will have to watch the film. I don’t know if it was coverage or pressure but we weren’t on like we’ve been on at times this year, and it’s on me. I’ve got to figure out where that is going wrong, because we’re better than that at executing a bunch of those throws and we just didn’t hit ’em.
Q. Is this as frustrated as you’ve been with the offense? You put the team in position a number of times and the defense did, too, to come back and score and you had a number of three and outs today. Is this as frustrated as you’ve been with the offense?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, just something is not clicking at times, for whatever reason we have this lulls where it’s everybody, and we can’t do that. We’ve gotta execute at a high level and in this league you know you’ve got to keep up. We’re not keeping up at times, and when we have those opportunities, we’re going 3 and out or floundering around the last couple of games, and that won’t get it done in this league.
Q. Why do you think that is?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I don’t know. Gotta figure that out. The last two weeks I felt like we had a bunch of stops where we had the ball and just kind of didn’t execute
So, it’s happened for two weeks and we still don’t have answers.
8. Sadness. The last time I felt like I knew the writing was on the wall was right before Tuberville resigned and there are significant differences between what and how I felt about the current situation. With Tuberville, there was resentment and extreme dislike for the entire situation and there’s none of those emotions for me with Kingsbury. I still want this to work out the way that it was intended, for Kingsbury to have success and for Texas Tech to win. For me, there’s an extreme amount of sadness that comes with typing those words. And I know that it’s dumb to have sadness about sports because there are so many bigger things out there that are deserving of my emotions, but like a lot of you, I pour of time, energy and emotion into this silly thing.
9. What Was Great. Douglas Coleman’s aforementioned 99 yard fumble return. Da’Leon Ward running the ball. Dylan Cantrell and and Derrick Willies back on the outside. Jordyn Brooks continuing to make tackles. Stopping Swoopes on 4th down.
10. Miscommunication. This isn’t a criticism of Mahomes, but maybe more of a metaphor of where Texas Tech is at. Miscommunication is the problem and Kingsbury is on year four.
Mahomes is correct. Everything has to be unit for the system to work and that’s the problem.
Q. Why do you feel like y’all struggled offensively today?
PATRICK MAHOMES: Like I said, a lot of miscommunications in big moments, third downs,second downs and longs; we were hurting ourselves. They had a great game plan. They have a lot of great talent on that team, and you can’t make that many mistakes and still win a game.
Q. When you say “miscommunication” what do you mean?
PATRICK MAHOMES: Running routes at the wrong time. If it was me not signaling the right plays exactly how they’re supposed to be signaled, or if they’re not picking up the signals the right way. I mean it just — everything needs to be a unit for the system to work. Today we just weren’t clicking on all cylinders.