1. The Setting
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-5, 2-4)
Bad Guys: Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-2, 5-1)
When: Saturday, November 12th at 2:30 pm
Where: Boone Pickens Stadium; Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV/Stream: FS1 (FOX Sports Go)
Radio/Stream: 97.3 FM | Affiliates | TuneIn App
2. Uniform Tracker
|Stephen F. Austin||W, 69-17|
|Arizona State||L, 68-55|
|Louisiana Tech||W, 59-45|
|Kansas State||L, 44-38|
|West Virginia||L, 48-17|
3. The Big Storyline
When you’re not winning, it becomes increasingly difficult to write about one big storyline. These things become more difficult to write because the team is pretty much what they are and any variance would be a statistical anomaly more than anything else. With that being said, it’s been since Kliff Kingsbury was playing as to the last time that Texas Tech beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Yeah, it’s been that long. The actual date was October 10, 2001 and Texas Tech won 49-30 as Kingsbury passed for 440 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, while Ricky Williams ran for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Things have changed significantly since 2001, for both programs. When Texas Tech hired Kingsbury, I thought that the model that Texas Tech was following was one that was similar to that of Mike Gundy. Gundy, a former quarterback, who had come back to his alma mater to be the head coach and he’s gone on to a 101-49 record at Oklahoma State. He’s weathered some tough times with Pickens and the SI report that turned out to be nothing. Gundy’s first three years were nothing great: 4-7, 7-6 and 7-6. But then, in year four, Gundy won 9 games and he’s won more than 7 games for every year thereafter. The only real bump in the road was 2014 where OSU went 7-6 again, but have obviously recovered nicely.
The odd thing with Gundy vs. Kingsbury is that Gundy had a turning point and has only had one losing season it appears that Texas Tech and Kingsbury may be headed to their second losing season in his four years as head coach. I think for me, I really wanted to see Kingsbury round that corner and head into the straightaway with some momentum and I don’t think it’s turned out that way. Of course, there are three games to change that perception and it would obviously have to start in Stillwater.
I’ve racked my brain to think of ways for that corner to turn and it seems as if the consensus is that you have to give Kingsbury that fifth year to see what he can do. If things don’t change by that time, then it’s time to maybe make some changes. The tough thing with all of this is that I think that Kingsbury allowed Wallerstedt to take shortcuts in recruiting. Taking a bunch of JUCO kids that were fringe prospects and hardly even played as seniors. Those shortcuts ended up costing Texas Tech significantly in the overall progress of the team. Had Kingsbury recruited high schoolers in that first or second year, these guys would, at the least, be redshirt freshmen, possibly sophomores, and at least contributing. Meanwhile, the secondary seems a bit empty as true freshmen are making impacts and not upperclassmen. The linebackers are essentially a freshman and a senior and we’ve failed to see much of anyone else other than other freshmen, but not guys like Jamile Johnson or Christian Taylor. I don’t even know if they’re really even seeing snaps.
The size at defensive end continues to be a problem, at least in my opinion, and I think the one spot that seems okay is at defensive tackle, where there’s at the very least a nice mix of young and experienced players.
Offensively, I think the biggest issue was that the offensive line wasn’t addressed to the point where redshirt freshmen weren’t being asked to come in and be significant players at important positions.
I’ve got just a few more stats for you and some of you will say, you’ve beaten this dead horse to a pulp and some of you will say, heck yes, we want more of this. In any event, I’ll let things go for a while after this. Via TeamRankings, I though these were some interesting numbers. I didn’t have time to do a deep analysis, but as an underdog, Texas Tech is 6-21, as an away underdog, Texas Tech is 4-8 and as a home underdog, which is the most surprising, Texas Tech is 1-9. As favorites, Texas Tech is 17-2 in the Kingsbury era and so his teams are beating the teams he’s supposed to and sometimes upsetting those teams as an underdog on the road.
4. One Key Stat
The film that I watched for OSU was the West Virginia game and I counted at least three turnovers in that game, which was the last game that the Cowboys played at home. I mentioned this in the stats post earlier this week, but OSU is 14th in the nation in turnover margin. They just don’t turn the ball over at home, only 4 turnovers lost at home and 8 on the road and they get them in spades at home, 14 gained at home and only 6 on the road.
5. What to Watch on Offense
Oklahoma State is sometimes more multiple than Texas Tech, they’ll run with a tight end and an h-back (although Texas Tech has run more of this with Mason Reed of late) and I think the one thing that I noticed with Oklahoma State in terms of how they run plays around the red zone is that they love to attack the one-on-one battles and it seems as if Mason Rudolph knows that. So, this is a pretty standard set for OSU, regardless as to whether or not they are inside the 20.
Mason doesn’t hesitate at all to throw the ball to the corner of the endzone and where there’s just one receiver and he’s obviously one-on-one with his defender. Rudolph doesn’t even look anywhere else, this was the call if this is how WVU lined up. And there’s really no point in putting a safety over the top there, it’s pretty much a waste of a defender to cover just one guy.
This next play is a jumbo set for Oklahoma State, lining up with two tight ends with legitimate size and although I’m going out of order here, in this play the receivers are one-on-one again and rather than go to the pylon, the receiver takes advantage of how the defender is playing.
The OSU receiver runs his route inside. This is a play that Texas Tech runs too, namely with Dylan Cantrell because of his size and I remember Michael Crabtree being nearly unstoppable at this sort of play.
6. What to Watch on Defense
Oklahoma State lines up with 4 down linemen and two linebackers as WVU is running 20 personnel. This sotra looks like a play that Baylor would run with the receivers outside the numbers. In any event, you can see in this first shot that the OSU safety is going to come blaring off the end and is leaving the receiver at the top of the screen one-on-one.
The running backs do a terrific job of picking up that defender and the defensive line is blocked really well. It helps a ton that Howard is making a really quick decision, he’s going to the receiver where he knows there’s no help and mahomes will have to do the same thing.
In this clip, it again is pretty standard for OSU and I liked this shot because it gave us a very wide shot of OSU’s coverage. OSU has 4 down linemen, 2 linebackers and 2 high safeties. Notice the receiver at the bottom hashmarks, where he’s got a 10 yard cushion.
That wide open receiver is running down the field, but notice how that linebacker has stepped in the passing lane, taking away that cushion, while the rest of the offense is really covered up pretty well. Had the inside receiver been able to make a make an independent decision, it would make sense to stop right at the line of scrimmage and take that play all day long. At some point, OSU would adjust and move up that defender, but now you’ve got multiple guys in a tight space and you could stress the safety in having to make a decision as I’d guess that the receiver would get past his defender easily and now you’ve got your choice of an open receiver at some later point.
Via OddsShark, the line has settled on Oklahoma State favored by 12.5 and that’s a lot of points. I’ll take those points, Texas Tech is 2-0 against the spread on the road and I’ll guess that this trend continues, but Oklahoma State wins.