1. That’s Finally Over. I’ve been looking forward to this game being over for a really long time. I’ve been tired of Baker Mayfield for 2 years, largely ignoring him (I have the unique ability to ignore things that irritate me, even online), and there may not be a more unlikable person that I can recall. In a way, he’s Bill Laimbeer for me, probably a decent person elsewhere, but on the playing field, he’s a heel, intending to irritate and generally be a jerk (talking trash to an injured Lonzell Gilmore is something no one is talking about, but whatever). As Travis so eloquently touted on Twitter during the game, the story that Baker Mayfield quit Texas Tech because he wasn’t promised the job is *the* story. This continuous need to be a guy that has a chip on his shoulder isn’t going to play in the NFL. Kingsbury would never say things like this, but don’t ever forget Gary Patterson’s comments, which somewhat get lost in the Mayfield story.
“If Baker Mayfield wants to blame TCU for 128 BCS schools not offering him a scholarship, that’s fine. But ask Kliff Kingsbury why he didn’t offer him a scholarship at Texas Tech. Ask about Baker’s dad [James]. He’s an arrogant guy who thinks he knows everything. If people knew the whole story, they might not have a great opinion of Baker or his father.”
Either way, I’m glad to be done with Mayfield. Just like all of us, I hope he gets what he deserves and I don’t mean that in any other way other than literally and without malice or ill will.
2. Fade. The offense really started off with some terrific play calls. Kingsbury stuck to the run and it paid off in spades as Tre King was running for some decent yardage, while Nic Shimonek found Batson, Cantrell, and Coutee for touchdowns. It really was terrific and then Oklahoma adjusted, blitzing Shimonek and doing a much better job of stopping the run. As I wrote after the game, this game was a metaphor for the entire season, start fast and fade. Unfortunately, Shimonek just isn’t able to adjust the way that I thought (and probably the coaching staff) would. There is one thing that is a constant for me, which is that Kingsbury has always been able to call offense, I know some of you tend to disagree at times, but there probably isn’t a more elite playcaller in college football, but he can’t execute. He can’t control Travis Bruffy being put on skates (I was worried about this before the game).
In the first half, Texas Tech had 195 yards passing and 87 yards rushing, which means that 61% of the passing yards and 75% of the rushing yards all happened in the first half.
3. At Home. This won’t be a long note, but left at home was Derrick Willies, Nick McCann and D.J. Polite Bray did not dress today. They were in Lubbock as part of a coach’s decision. It is clear that Willies has checked out for whatever reason (needs to work more, not less and I won’t understand that with all of that talent) and I sure would hate to lose McCann, a young defensive tackle. Oh, well, it is what it is.
4. Death by 11 Minute Drive. Want to watch excruciating football? Turn the ball over on downs on the 1 yard line with 11 minutes to go to only then watch the opposing team then use the entire 11 minutes, not score a touchdown and just wind down the clock. At least Oklahoma didn’t run up the score, but that was absolutely brutal and there wasn’t a thing that the Texas Tech defense could do about it. That’s the thing about teams with some pretty elite talent, which is that trying to stop what they do can be problematic, especially if they just grind on you for the entire game. There’s probably not a more talented offensive line that Texas Tech will face the rest of the year. And that’s no knock against what has been a very good defense, but you’re not going to be able to stop everyone. The defense was out there a ton in the second quarter and beyond so asking them to do more was a tough thing.
5. Bright Spots. With Willies at home, this provided you with a glimpse into the future. Dylan Cantrell, a guy that is criminally underrated and just doesn’t get the ball enough, switched to the X-receiver position with T.J. Vasher taking over Cantrell’s normal z-receiver position. Vasher was electric and long, catching 5 passes for 98 yards. He’s going to be absolutely terrific next year. And although Quan Shorts didn’t catch any passes, I think that’s going to be your starters on the outside next year. Also making an appearance was De’Quan Bowman, who could also slide into an inside receiver spot after this year. On the defensive side of the ball, Justus Parker continues to just make plays and he’s got an edge to him and he just tends to find the ball. Tre King was terrific, running 24 times for 113 yards and I wish they would have given him the ball on the 1 yard line to see if he could have punched it in. Oh, and how about Michael Barden making three of four extra points. I know what you’re thinking, but the last three seemed like they should look.
6. Those Bad Hits. There the Oklahoma no-call targeting call and then the Jah’Shawn Johnson targeting call, if anything, the Oklahoma defender seemed to aim right for Tre King’s helmet and then Johnson seemingly did the same thing. I struggle with the difference between the two hits and the problem that they seemed so similar. It stinks and now Johnson will miss the first half of the Kansas State game, which means we’ll see more of Vaughnte Dorsey, Douglas Coleman and Parker. The other late hits, Dorsey and Derrick Fields were just bad plays and really gave Oklahoma free yards exactly when those yards didn’t need to be given away. There were only 6 penalties for 63 yards, but of those 6, 3 of them were for late hits, that’s 45 of those yards right there.
7. Converting. I mentioned this after the game, but one of the big problems was that Shimonek and the offense simply could not convert third downs, converting only 5 of 14, while allowing Oklahoma to complete 54% of their third downs. A lot of those OU conversions came in that last 11 minute drive. On all three 3rd and long attempts, Texas Tech didn’t complete any of them. We talked about this last week, but there’s just no magic this year and that’s a bummer.
8. Butts in Seats. I’m going to address a few things that were asked of me on Twitter after the game. This loss isn’t as depressing as other because I think we all figured what would happen. Pretty much every writer for STP predicted this loss (not that it was difficult) which is that the team would start fast and fade and that’s pretty much what happened. If you want to have an indication as to how this offseason will go, then look no further than how the season tickets dipped after last year and then look at how the student section simply failed to show up for the Iowa State game. This is true no matter what happens and who is the coach, but a fanbase that simply doesn’t care is one fo the worst things that you can have and I thought that we may have reached that point last year, but here we are again and I still think the same thing. Indifference is a program killer. If the season tickets continue to drop then the writing is on the wall. Those season ticket fanbase are what drives this entire thing. In fact, Texas Tech is currently running a promo where you can get tickets to both Kansas State and TCU for $40. That’s a great deal, but that also means that there’s enough tickets to be able to do this. that’s sorta a problem. Sure, next year is more likely to have better numbers because Oklahoma and Texas will be in Lubbock, but if you want to see which way the wind is blowing then check out the attendance numbers for the Kansas State and TCU and how many show up for that Baylor game.
9. When to Make a Move. This is the absolute toughest thing to do in sports, unless the person that you’ve hired is a horrible human being (see Art Briles) or an unmitigated disaster (see Butch Jones or Jim McElwain). Kingsbury is likable, he is one of us, so it makes it much tougher. I mentioned after the game that I thought the program should move forward last year (about this time). I felt that it was time to make a move then, possibly even plucking Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma was a thought for me, although there were others that didn’t want to hire yet another coordinator. The $6 million buyout is obviously a problem for Texas Tech an athletic department is close to the margin (I think Texas Tech operates in the black, but not by much possibly by $5 million or so). that’s a lot of money to spend on a buyout and then hire another coach on that. But this is about timing and with he December signing date now into effect, I think athletic programs are going to move up those dates, which makes everything awkward.
And don’t get me wrong, if Texas Tech goes on a terrific streak and wins the next four, then all of this is for nothing because Kingsbury isn’t going anywhere. These are all winnable games, yes, even TCU and Texas.
Just consider one last thing. I think Kingsbury is 14-27 against Power Five teams.
10. Consider the Possibilities. If Texas Tech does make a move then I’ll put some real effort into who and what and all of that other mess. My life is way too busy to consider options when the thing that triggers those options hasn’t happened yet. In any event, if this does happen, then I think it would behoove everybody for Texas Tech to really consider it’s options. I don’t think that fans really identify with the “air raid” any longer and I don’t want this idea of only hiring an Air Raid guy as some sort of prerequisite to moving this thing in a forward. Be open to thinking outside the box. It’s more important to build a winner rather than try to continue a scheme. I think fans care less about the scheme because everyone is doing it. This is no longer unique. Fans will quickly adapt to winning no matter how it happens.