1. That’s a Pretty Big Win. I’m not into measuring the weight of a win other than wins that actually do things, like Texas Tech beating Texas last year where Kliff Kingsbury has said that beating the Longhorns saved his job. That seems to be pretty certain. I don’t weigh wins because we’re really at a point where all wins are really important. And this win was really important. Texas Tech’s 17-14 win over TCU was decidedly a toss-up game like we’ve been talking about, one that could have gone either way and if you’re looking forward, there are two more toss-up games, at Iowa State and Texas, one that looks like a loss, Oklahoma, and two wins where Texas Tech is heavily favored.
If anything, the game was big because of what TCU had done four years ago and 82 points later. TCU, Gary Patterson, Sonny Cumbie and Chad Glasgow all wanted to intentionally embarrass Texas Tech, that’s the only reason you put up 82 points on someone. TCU very well could have run the ball after being up by 40 or 50 or 60 or 70, but nah, we need 82. For that reason alone, I think getting this particular win maybe means something to Kliff Kingsbury, although Patrick Mahomes & Co. came away with a win two years ago, another pretty good defensive performance and a 27-24 win.
2. The Defense Played Well, But TCU’s Offense Isn’t Good. I’m not here to hate, but we need to be honest about who Texas Tech is playing, where they play well, and where they don’t. Before the game, TCU was the 74th best offense in the nation according to S&P+, which means that they are decidedly in the back half of NCAA statistics. TCU feasted against Southern (55 points) and SMU (42 points), but in their last three games, they put up 28 points on Ohio State, 16 against Texas and 17 against Iowa State. When we are critical of our team, we probably need to differentiate the different types of teams that Texas Tech is able to have success and teams that don’t fit that profile and if anything, that should give you some idea where Texas Tech is probably going to be moving forward. Teams like West Virginia and Ole Miss, big huge offenses with big receivers are the teams that have given Texas Tech the most trouble, while teams like TCU, middling to not very good offenses, Texas Tech has been able to not only compete with, but excel. Think about that in regards to the rest of the schedule because there aren’t too many really big offenses like West Virginia and Ole Miss left on the schedule.
The Texas Tech defense should get a ton of credit, but I don’t want to make any declarations about the Texas Tech defense having arrived. Shawn Robinson is a turnover machine, he has been all year and that aspect of his game absolutely continued. I’ve mentioned all year that turnovers are not a defensive plan and last night, but Robinson and TCU was true to form. Again, before the game, TCU was 119th in expected turnover margin, which means that there was probably this expectation that TCU would turn the ball over and Texas Tech would need to capitalize on those moments and the defense certainly did. But the game itself played out like the stats said they would from a turnover perspective.
Where you maybe need to take some solace is how TCU couldn’t run the ball, rushing 32 times for only 121 yards, for only 3.8 yards per attempt. The front line for Texas Tech was absolutely terrific and where a guy like Robinson would have absolutely terrorized Texas Tech in the past, the Red Raiders did an absolutely terrific job of limiting the TCU offense. In fact, because TCU couldn’t run the ball they were forced in some respects to pass the ball 45 times with a quarterback who had a bad shoulder headed into the game. I tend to think that wasn’t the plan.
If there’s reason for concern, it would still be the secondary where Robinson and his hurt shoulder still threw for 290 yards and that’s why if you’re looking forward, really big passing teams are going to give Texas Tech problems. That’s okay, because every team has it’s weakness and I think that the defensive front seven are doing an excellent job of putting pressure on the quarterback, 6 official quarterback hurries and only 1 sack, but it sure felt like Robinson was running for his life for quite a bit of the evening.
3. Panazzolo Is your Player of the Game. We’ll get to our game iconography later, but I thought that Dominic Panazzolo’s punting efforts deserved a point of his own. In the second half of the game it was clear at that point that field position was a huge part of the game plan for both coaches and in the first half, Panazzolo didn’t really have any terrific punts. In fact, I think I wrote in my game log that Panazzolo had a punt go out of bounds at the 20 and wasn’t a great punt, another that he punted to the 35 that I think was decent, but in the second half he had four key punts. The first one was in the 8th offensive drive for Texas Tech, where Texas Tech is starting at the 40 yard line and goes 3 and out. Panazzolo punts the ball to the 15 pinning TCU inside their own 20 yard line. On the very next offensive drive for Texas Tech would have the ball for an 11 play drive that started at their own 2 yard line, eventually driving the ball to the 50 yard line and maybe for some other game, Kingsbury would have gone for it on 4th and 3 at the 50, but since field position was such a big deal, Kingsbury elects to punt the ball away and it’s really a disaster. Panazollo kicks a flat punt that has no air and no player has an opportunity to down the ball inside the 20 because it really just sort of sails into the end zone. I think I even recall Kingsbury giving Panazzolo a “look” as he came off the field.
Texas Tech would get the ball on the very next drive on a 6 play drive that resulted Texas Tech going to TCU’s 35 yard line. This is the one drive where Antoine Wesley had a 50+ yard reception driving the ball to the TCU 13 yard line and it looks like Texas Tech is primed for at least a field goal. A couple of penalties, a false start and a pass interference, means that Texas Tech is looking at a 3 and 24 and Duffey is sacked on a 3 man rush. In comes Panazzolo where he does his job and Ja’Deion High does his job and down TCU at their own 1 yard line. TCU was eventually forced to punt I think on a 3 and out.
On the very next drive it was a one-play affair for Texas Tech, Jett Duffey’s 60+ yard run that would put Texas Tech ahead, but on the 12th drive of the game, Texas Tech would get the ball again, their last real drive of the game (Texas Tech would get the ball again only to down it to end the game). TCU only needs a field goal to win and the Texas Tech offensive drive stalls at the 49 and Panazzolo’s does his job yet again and De’Quan Bowman does his, downing the ball at the 2 yard line where TCU would need to drive 98 yards to win or some smaller amount to tie the game.
It would have been really easy for Panazzolo to shrink after kicking the ball into the endzone, but he then right back out there and had two of the biggest plays of the game. Without question, pinning TCU deep was something that this team needed and Kingsbury was counting off and Panazzolo executed it flawlessly. I don’t know how he could have been better.
4. Big Plays. I think in year’s past, there was a time and place where Texas Tech can’t even score a touchdown against TCU, heck, that happened at home last year. The difference between this year and last year? The big play. Texas Tech didn’t have a ton of success in moving the chains. TCU will eat up and spit out a lot of opponents that way. Go ahead and compound that with Texas Tech having a brand new center, Bailey Smith, who had at least 3 penalties that I counted, on snap infractions alone, and then having a new left tackle for a majority of the game, plus playing with your third string quarterback and one of your best receivers, you really sort of have to pull back your expectations in regards to the offense operating like a well-tuned machine.
Offensively, Texas Tech scored their two touchdowns. The very first drive of the second half, and keep in mind that I’m hoping that my idea of the offensive coaches huddling and deciding that Duffey is going to have to be the quarterback moving forward because McLane Carter just doesn’t have the mobility to play, Texas Tech gets the ball at their 14 yard line. In fact, the first drive to open the second half, Texas Tech is somewhat saved by yet another TCU penalty, Texas Tech stalls on 3rd and 6, only gaining 4 yards, but a TCU hold results in a first down. The very next play, I think TCU is absolutely playing to stop the run, load up the box, and Tre King is stopped for no gain or a 1 yard loss. On 2nd and 11, Ja’Deion High does not blink, or collect $200 after passing go, he just runs right down the damn field and TCU is as flat-footed as I’ve ever seen them. It was an absolutely perfect call because Duffey didn’t attempt a pass like that for the entirety of the game. A complete shock and High goes 62 yards for a touchdown.
The next huge offensive play was Duffey’s 38 yard run, a one-play drive where Texas Tech had previously punted on the 3 prior drives. Kingsbury again picked the right play, as TCU is bringing a corner blitz and is bringing heat on the edges collapsing the pocket almost immediately, but on a designed run, Bailey Smith is running out there clearing the path, while Trey King is occupying a linebacker, Seth Collins is blocking a defensive back just long enough for Duffey to cross the goal line.
It felt like the Texas Tech defense had more big plays, starting on the second drive of the game where Jordyn Brooks has terrific coverage, Dakota Allen is putting some serious heat on Robinson, who makes a terrible throw, but Brooks makes a terrific play to keep the ball in the air and grab the ball for an interception. On 4th and 1, where it seemed like just getting to the play took an eternity, TCU gets the first down on a wildcat play, but Dakota Allen gets the hit and maybe Joe Wallace’s big paw pushes the ball out of the running back’s hands and Texas Tech recovers the ball.
How big is that field goal miss at the end of the second half?
And how about that series of plays on the 9th drive of the game where TCU fumbles the ball off of a Vaughnte Dorsey hit, but because a TCU player touches the ball out of bounds, it goes back to TCU on a 3rd and 12. A huge swing where the defense had already headed off of the field, they go back out there and Robinson makes a terrible throw, but the defense holds the pocket making Robinson required to make the pass which turned out to be terrible.
Big plays, big play calls, and execution on those plays absolutely won this game this year.
5. Duffey’s Game. We usually get to the quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd point, but here we are. Jett Duffey’s game was uneven at best and TCU’s defense had a ton to do with that. Duffey is a good quarterback, but the Horned Frog defense will make a lot of quarterbacks look terrible. Duffey’s very first start of his career is up against one of the toughest defenses in the conference. Last year, Nic Shimonek had 10 starts under his belt and only managed 137 passing yards completing just a shade over 50% of his passes and an interception. Duffey completes 13 of 24 for 54% of his passes for 8 yards per completion with an interception (it could have been 2 had it not been a hit to Duffey’s head on a TCU penalty). We’ve already discussed the big Duffey run, but for the game, Duffey had 83 yards on 16 carries for about 5 yards a rush. That’s 273 yards of offense, a handful of big plays that put Texas Tech in a good spot and a really pretty good job of limiting mistakes.
6. Defensive Line is Rounding Into Form. I mention this a bit above, but goodness the defensive line is really starting to round into form. Texas Tech still has a bit of a problem creating pressure with just their front four and it usually takes a linebacker or maybe a safety to help create the pressure, but this group is really probably the best line we’ve seen since the 2008 year? I’m pretty comfortable with how this group is playing and they’ve got some depth that helps make these Big 12 games more manageable. Broderick Washington (4 tackles), Kolin Hill (6 tackles and 1 TFL), Tony Jones (4 tackles and 1 sack), Eli Howard (2 tackles), Nick McCann (2 tackles and 1 TFL) and Nelson Mbanasor (1 tackle) all played a part and they’re a huge part of taking away a good portion of the TCU offense.
7. Penalties. If you would have asked me, I would have absolutely told you that TCU had significantly more penalties, it just sort of felt that way, but looking back, Texas Tech had 12 penalties, I somewhat lost track how many were against the offensive line, but maybe TCU’s were more impactful? I’m not sure, but TCU’s penalties sure seemed to be inopportune at times. Maybe because Patterson complained about them so much they seemed worse. Nevertheless, Texas Tech had a pretty good run of relatively penalty free games and I think that the offensive line and maybe the secondary had the large number of them and given how that’s Texas Tech’s two weak spots, that’s not a huge surprise, but definitely needs improvement here.
8. Game Iconography.
Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: We’ve already handed the tortilla to Dom Panazzolo. Congrats.
Guns Up Offensive MVP: I thought that there were three candidates: Duffey, High and Tre King. King actually had 60 yards on just 10 carries and was very effective when he was in the game, but I’m going to go with Duffey here. He had a hand in all of the big plays. Congrats for sure.
Sheriff Star Defensive MVP: Dakota Allen is the best defensive player since . . . ? Brandon Williams? I’m not sure, but Allen’s ability to be effective sideline to sideline and on the blitz was ridiculously important to this this win. Allen finished with 8 tackles but he seemed like he was all over the field.
On the win on the road:
“It was four years ago that I walked out on that field and they put 82 on us. To have that kind of performance, I am just really proud of what that side of the football has done. They have fought and fought and that’s the consistency we are looking for from that group with all of their veteran leaders.”
On TTU’s success on the road:
“We would like to play better at home, get our atmosphere back to where it used to be, that works both ways, us and the fans. We have a road warrior mentality. It’s us against everybody else. They’ve embraced that and that comes from having good mental focus on the road.”
On the tradition in the program:
“In all six games, we feel like we’ve finished games. We just didn’t start them fast. You have to learn how to win in the end and hopefully we’re getting a feel for that.”
On his offensive success:
“Coach Patterson does such a good job of mixing things up and really kept us out of rhythm all night. We hit them on a couple of plays where the stars aligned and we got lucky. I was really proud of Jett, it’s such a hard situation to come into. First start ever and we decide we are going to switch things up at halftime, then to be put back in, dig deep, be mentally tough enough to handle that, and find a way to win. I can’t say enough about his mental toughness.”
On his defense’s performance:
“I was always impressed how (David Gibbs) stuck to his guns, through a couple of really, really rough years. He had a vision, wanted to recruit to it, wanted to develop to it and he stuck with it. We have a couple of veteran players now, and we still have a long way to go but there is some progress being made.”
On putting together four quarters:
“This is probably the best four quarters defensively, that we have put together, but we’re not satisfied. There were a lot of missed opportunities. A lot of plays we wished we could have gotten back. Overall all as team we showed that we’re going to fight for four quarters. We started fast this week as a defense and the offense got rolling. It was an incredible game. It was a lot of fun to be with the boys.”
On closing out games:
“I think it has to do a lot with how close the team is, the camaraderie. This team is going to play hard all four quarters. It’s something we harped on all offseason, and if you go back and look at the tape form last year, we weren’t able to pull some [close games] out. And that’s truly the difference between a 6-7 team and a 9-3 team or a 10-2 team. It speaks volumes of our coaching staff and how much they believe in us, and how much we believe in them, the scheme and each other. And our fan base, it’s just incredible support from everywhere. Everyone has each other’s backs.”
On making a name for himself:
“When I walked on, I didn’t really care about the defense or who was here or in front of me. I just tried to do whatever I could to compete and help the team out as much as I can. I just got here, and they said, ‘You’re 230. You need to gain some weight, first of all. Second of all, you’re not going to play defensive end, you have to play wherever you can find a spot.’ Next thing I know, I slap on 45 pounds and am a nose tackle trying to help my team out anyway I can. I’m so thankful that I transferred here, and everyone has truly accepted me with open arms. It’s incredible.”
On Coach Gibbs:
“If you look at coach Gibbs, his experience speaks for itself. He’s the greatest coach. He does such a great job of knowing his players and getting the most out of them each and every day. He does a good job of grounding us and humbling us. His schemes are exceptional.”
On the win:
“It’s hard to go into anyone’s house in the Big-12 and win. Especially TCU. The fact that win can come into their house on a Thursday and leave with a W and get a few extra days of rest is going to give us a lot of momentum.”
On the quarterback Jett Duffey:
“I think he did well. He had a lot of adversity and they (TCU) were controlling the ball well on offense. So we didn’t get many offensive drives to get it rolling.”
On finishing the game:
“It felt well. We’ve done it in previous weeks. We are really focusing in on starting the game and getting out there and throwing the first punch at them and see how they are reacting. We started slow last week against West Virginia. We won’t do that again”
On downing the punt at the 1-yard line:
“It was big. I wasn’t supposed to be the one to down it. It was supposed to be the other guy, but he didn’t get back there in time. I saw him not back there so I just ran over there to make a play.”
10. Final Thoughts & La Yapa.
- Like to see this:
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) October 12, 2018
- In the lockerroom:
If you don’t know, now you know.
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) October 12, 2018
- Pretty happy bunch:
Yeah… It’ll be a #HappyFlight.
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) October 12, 2018
- The other big difference in the game was the Clayton Hatfield field goal. Again, how huge was that miss to essentially end the half and then for Hatfield to make his. Field goals were an adventure last year, but with Hatfield back it’s been a different game. We thought he was maybe good for a couple of wins last year and this year, maybe this is one of them.
- Texas Tech and Jett Duffey ran 10 personnel 60% of the time last night and you just get the feeling that the coaches like the space that this provides for Duffey to operate.
- I thought Vaughnte Dorsey and Jah’Shawn Johnson had some of their best games of the year. Probably also Hill’s best game of the year without question.
- We haven’t even talked about the receivers, but it was really only High and Wesley who did much of anything. I didn’t even notice Zach Austin on the field last night, but Wesley had some huge catches and some near misses as well.
- It’s somewhat amazing that we don’t know the injury status of some players. I had no idea that Paul Stawarz was injured and didn’t even travel. You obviously missed him. Also on the line, Kingsbury said that Jacob Hines started over Madison Akamnonu because he thought Hines practiced better and that’s somewhat of a surprise for me. Dawson Deaton came in for Travis Bruffy and he’s not ready for primetime just yet, but that was definitely a learning experience for him. It wasn’t easy and having Duffey back at quarterback helps the sack situation and negative plays.
- I was pretty disappointed that TCU couldn’t sell out a nationally televised game or even halfway make the seats look full. I thought the Texas Tech contingent was pretty well represented, but the upper decks for TCU looked pretty sparse. Officially, Amon G. Carter seats 50,000 and the official attendance was 44,000 and change but that didn’t seem accurate.
- After the game, Chris Beard tweeted this:
— Chris Beard (@CoachBeardTTU) October 12, 2018
This is is an old joke that goes like this: “There is a young bull standing atop a hill with an older bull, below them is a pasture full of heifers, cattle as far as the eye can see. The young bull looks at the old bull and exclaims, “Hey, let’s run down there and f#@! one o’them heifers!” The old bull, calm as can be, slowly turns to his young companion, and says, “Nah son, let’s walk down there, and f#@!’em all.” This joke was also in the Sopranos, uttered (get it) by none other than Tony Soprano.