Football

Ten Things: Iowa State 31, Texas Tech 13

We break down Texas Tech’s loss to Iowa State.

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Ten Things

1. Kingsbury is Texas Tech. This is the problem with hiring one of your own, which is that for a lot of people, Kliff Kingsbury is Texas Tech. Quite literally, he is the personification of Texas Tech in a lot of ways and I am a Kliff Kingsbury fan. I want him to succeed, not because I know him as a person, but because of what he represents.

Spencer asked on Twitter after the game, “where those Kliff lovers now?” and well, I am here. (As an aside, I think it’s good that we’ve got folks on this side of the issue too because a bunch of like-minded people isn’t interesting or fun. I think that folks like Spencer and myself both want the same thing, which is for Texas Tech football to win.)  I love Kingsbury and nothing would make me happier than to see Kingsbury succeed. I think a lot of people feel this way. I also think people desperately want Kingsbury to succeed, but the problem is that for a lot of people, Kingsbury is the personification of Texas Tech and, as a result, turning on Kingsbury feels like turning on Texas Tech. This creates a sense of irrationality at times when it comes to Kingsbury because he has the history and everything that goes along with being Texas Tech’s head coach. Believing in Kingsbury makes you want to believe in the dream that you can have the head coach that wants to build it all right here and to see the reality of it is depressing. At least it’s a bit depressing for me (I just started to day-drink, played outside with my kids and immediately felt better).

I don’t want to see that dream die and I think that most folks that area fan of Kingsbury (and as a result, believe that Kingsbury is in some way the personification of Texas Tech) is that they’ll give an extra long leash to him as a result of that relationship. I think what this really means that is that these fans really just want Kingsbury to succeed because they want Texas Tech to succeed. At least, this is how I feel. I hate that it’s come down to this, where we can have some fans completely thinking that Kingsbury is not the answer, to those fans on the other side of the spectrum who think that if we give Kingsbury just some more time everything will be fine.

There are no winners of this particular argument, at least for me. You can be right about letting Kingsbury go, but because of who he is, a part of me feels like letting a part of Texas Tech go and that’s simply not a good feeling.

2. Shimonek is a Robot.

Q. How do you feel about Shimonek’s performance today?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I felt like he had some good — I thought he fought the whole time. There was some tough sledding there at the end, where you are having to throw, they are dropping all those guys, you’re playing right into their hands.

But, you know, handled himself well. I thought for the most part got us into the right plays. We were off offensively.

I wrote about this after the game, but wanted to dive into this a bit more, which is that technically, Kingsbury is correct. One of the benefits of the defense that Iowa State ran is that you got to see the three high safeties for what I think was every play, or at least every play that I can remember. That’s the problem though, which is that there is no unpredictability. You are going to get exactly what you expect and that’s somewhat of a problem. Shimonek technically did everything correct and that’s probably the biggest difference between Shimonek and other more mobile quarterbacks, which is that you might get something a bit different and in terms of preparation, literally anything could happen if you’ve got a strong enough arm to heave it down the field.

It was a bit ironic that Patrick Mahomes was back in the stadium (How cool is it that the first opportunity he gets, he returns to Lubbock?) and he saw the most anti-Mahomes game possible. This isn’t a knock against Shimonek, he is who he is, but without that creativity, this is what you’re going to get.

3. Field Goals Suck.

Q. Missed field goals from last week and today, what does that do to the thinking of the team?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I mean, you like to hit it obviously. We were very poor in the red zone. You’d like to kick that one, make it 24-16, make it a one-score ballgame. But we felt like we didn’t think we could make that field goal. We went for it, and that was pretty deflating for our team.

I don’t know what to say because I think Kingsbury is at a loss too. He wants to believe in these kids to make chip shots and they just can’t make anything. The cheer for a made extra point had to sting. Without even having the option for a field go and an offense that isn’t great at converting makes this all that much more difficult to consider your options. Not getting a touchdown, or a first down, or a field goal is deflating. Not having one of those options because the kickers cannot kick makes the situation even worse.

4. Turnovers.

Q. Do you feel like after the second fumble, Here we go again, they didn’t respond?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I thought throughout the first half we didn’t respond. I thought the second half, guys played hard. We still didn’t execute offensively. I thought defense, they gave us a chance to win the game. Offensively we never executed at a level we needed to. That’s on me. I got to get those guys going.

You want to set up an opposing team to win a game, then drop a couple of fumbles on your own 25 or so yard line and give them a really short field.

We can point to the offense not clicking, but the offense didn’t do anyone any favors by putting the ball on the carpet two separate times and in both of those times it gave Iowa State a relatively short field.

5. Receivers Don’t Have Options.

Q. What do you do to get the X receiver position going?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I mean, not many of the receivers had many opportunities today. I think they’re practicing hard. We just have to find a way to get them more involved.

Getting the receivers involved more is problematic based on the way that the defenses are playing Texas Tech. What did work in the second half were those seam routes and things up the middle. The three high safeties are pretty simplistic, anyone going deep gets help, so you better figure out how to get them open the same way that Iowa State was getting receivers open, essentially double-stacking receivers and making the defense choose how they cover, but at some point, one of those guys will get open.

6. King Can Play.

Q. (Question regarding Tre King).
KLIFF KINGSBURY: He ran tough. He’s gotten better and better. I’m proud of his progress. He’ll have a role moving forward, a major role moving forward.

After the game, Kingsbury said that Justin Stockton had some sort of head injury, which is something that kept him out in the spring (I think, this is what I remember). That allowed Tre King to be the guy for most of the game and I absolutely loved the way that he played. I’ve written about this for the better part of the year, which is that Texas Tech really needs a guy that can grind out those 4-6 yard runs and King did that for the most part. King may not break a huge play, but I’m more worried about those plays where he gets 4 yards a carry (which is what he averaged). If Nisby can’t really get the playbook, then there’s no doubt in my mind that King can do that.

It also doesn’t help the situation because Mason Reed hasn’t been healthy seemingly all year and Texas Tech ended up having to play a lot of Tyler Carr, the walk-on who started at defensive tackle this year, has been moved to fullback. There were points in the game you could tell where King is telling Carr where to line up and block.

7. Defense Was Okay.

Like I said, I thought defense continued to give us an opportunity to get back in that game. Offensively we didn’t execute well the entire day.

I’m not going to tell you that the defense played lights out, but they did exactly what we wanted them to do, which is force enough punts to give the offense a chance. They had to deal with two short fields in the first half, one resulting in a field goal and the other a touchdown, then in the second half, the team pitched a shut-out, the only touchdown coming as a result of the Shimonek interception. Other than that, the defense forced 3 punts and the lone field goal was a miss.

Again, I’m not at all saying that it was great, but I can live with that sort of performance and if the offense can even moderately get going, then we’d be singing their praises this morning.

8. First Half Strategy.

Q. Could you talk about the strategy in the first half, maybe getting more away from what you normally do, usually do well, the decision to almost be exclusively on the run.
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it was more the looks we were getting. We felt like we could execute the run at a high level, and we didn’t. Turned the ball over a couple times, got us off schedule. So weren’t able to get first downs early. Couldn’t get into our tempo stuff early. Just really squandered all the possessions.

I’m a bit surprised that Kingsbury is just sorta sticking with the idea that you gotta run what they give you and at some point, I really would like to see Kingsbury dictate things rather than having things dictated to the offense. it’s strange seeing an offense be reactive rather than, well, offensive in nature and trying to dictate what happens

9. Do What You Do.

Q. Was it a case where they were showing you a lot of box, you felt you needed five to block five?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that was the looks. We felt like we had the numbers. We felt like watching them throughout the year, that was what we needed to do: when we had the looks, run the ball, run the football. Whether we were missing two up front, not seeing the cut, we squandered a bunch of those drives.

Same thing here, which is that Kingsbury says again, that running the ball is what they wanted to do, but pins some of that on the running backs for missing cuts, or linemen for not getting the blocks that they wanted. I had actually started to chart the plays for this game because Texas Tech had been running quite a bit of 21 personnel and I wanted to see how that was in action (I gave this up after Iowa State late in the first half because it was not productive).

The guys up front just aren’t consistent to be a dominant running team. That’s not what this team does well. Again, I want the offense to be dictating the action rather than reacting.

10. Getting Back Momentum.

Q. How big of a challenge is it to get back the momentum you had?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: It’s obviously a challenge. We came out flat to start this game. It was the first game I felt like we were flat. They executed at a high level and we didn’t. We can’t do that in this league.

We got to find a way to get back up. Got a big one next week. Obviously they’re all big from here on out. Find a way to start fast again. That was really the first time I felt like we weren’t really crisp early on in the game.

I think some folks are bothered by the comments about the team coming out flat, that this is the first time that’s happened all year and the offense hasn’t always been flat, but I sorta feel the same way. The offense hasn’t always been on point, but the team has felt like it has been a bit more energized, whether it be the offense or the defense coming up with some plays (I think sometimes we tend to think that if the offense doesn’t get going, then the entire team is flat, but that’s probably unfair to state that the entire team is flat if one side is playing well.) The game started out the best possible way with the Justus Parker interception, but after that things were very flat.

I am all but sure that Baker Mayfield is going to be adequately amped for Saturday’s game in Norman.

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