Football

Preview: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Intro

GAME THINGS
Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-2, 0-1)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-1, 1-1)
October 5th @ 11:00 a.m.
Jones AT&T Stadium – Lubbock, Texas
Oklahoma State -10
FS1 | FOX Sports Go
Mostly Sunny, 81-60.

Righteous Anger. I was listening to the Ticket yesterday morning, in particular their coverage of the Amber Guyger trial. I realize that even mentioning this steps over a line a bit, but I don’t want to discuss those events, but something that the Gentle Musers discussed when discussing the events that happened at sentencing. The topic was righteous anger about whatever it is that sets you off (in their case they were obviously discussing the trial). The way that they discussed this was that righteous anger is something that you feel that you need to be angry over a perceived injustice. There’s no reward for you if you continue to be angry about this righteous injustice or real end game, so you just sort of stay angry for the foreseeable future. If you do ever give in and just decide to not be angry, then you lose your righteous anger and your righteousness overall. Being the horrible human being that I am, I immediately thought about how angry people are here, on this dumb website, and that a large part of that anger was righteous anger. I tend to think that on both sides of the fence for Texas Tech fans, there is this righteous anger, whether it be from a decade ago when Leach was terminated, or at Tuberville being hired, or at Hance for the situation overall, or at Kingsbury for letting the program slip even further, or at Wells for the lack of offensive prowess.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure that I had quite a bit of significant righteous anger when Leach was hired, but as time as progressed, I’m somewhat gotten over myself and at some point, I realized that being angry about that situation wasn’t beneficial in any way. History wasn’t going to change as a result of any anger that I held onto. There are still people who comment about how Leach did things, the tennis-ball machine, the beach, etc. I’ve always maintained that I’m not about to change anyone’s minds on this blog, but I do not understand how even after a decade, there are people who are still holding on. And I’m curious what this righteous anger (which that’s what it is) does for your personally and why there’s this need to voice this online. And it is partially the comments here, but it is also on places like Twitter where people want to hang onto an injustice. And I get that you feel that whatever happened (whether it be Leach, Tuberville, Kingsbury, or Wells) is wrong and you’re not going to stand for it, but what are you gaining by being angry about it?

I’m probably getting into the weeds a bit on this and being a bit too philosophical for a Friday, but it sparked something and I thought I’d write about it.

Big 12 Boomerang.

Baylor got a hard-fought win against Iowa State and they’re still undefeated. They’ll have to go on the road to face the Wildcats and Baylor did go on the road and struggled against Rice, so who knows what might happen here. The Iowa State vs. TCU game should also be fascinating and whether or not the TCU offense is back on the rails or if they’ll be poor on the road. And we’ll get to see Texas on the road at West Virginia which I don’t think that West Virginia is good, so I’ll be interested if Texas hits that line.

When Texas Tech Has The Ball

Up front defensively, Cameron Murray (6-2/290) and Brendon Evers (6-2/290) are the starting tackles with Tyler Lacy (6-4/265) and Brock Martin (6-4/242) the starting defensive ends. Wells said in his weekly presser that the Cowboys will rotate extensively on the line and it would be nice to take that aspect out of their game, but that means that the offense has to actually churn out those yards and first downs. Oklahoma State doesn’t get behind the line of scrimmage very much, 84th overall in tackles for a loss and 97th in sacks. Neither Martin or Lacy have a sack and Murray and Evers have one sack combined (that’s Murray).

Like every other team, Oklahoma State really just has two linebackers, Amen Ogbongbemiga (6-1/225) and Malcolm Rodriguez (6-0/205) (FN. 1). Ogbongbemiga is the high tackler, 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and he appears to be highly productive. Rodriguez also has 42 tackles, but not a ton of splash plays. There’s also a chance that Calvin Bundage may play.

Oklahoma State will also just play 3-down linemen as well with 3 linebacker types, and they have plenty of bodies that can do that, so they’ll be situational dependent.

The secondary features three safeties, Jarrick Bernard (6-2/195), Tre Sterling (6-1/202), and Holby Harvell-Peel (6-0/210). Harvell-Peel and Sterling each have about 32 tackles, Harvell-Peel has 2 passes defended and Sterling has 3, which basically lead the secondary The cornerbacks are Rodarius Williams (6-0/187) and A.J. Green (6-1/190) and they each have 21 tackles, Green has the only interception, and as a team, the Cowboys only have 3 picks overall.

The biggest problem for the Texas Tech offense is that I don’t know if there’s a player that opposing defenses have to scheme around (FN 12. Right now, there’s not one player that’s forcing teams to make an adjustment, so there’s maybe not a lot of leverage to force defenses to adjust, bring a safety into the box, or push one out. There have been good game and the stats are okay, but offensively, there’s a lot to be desired.

I said it at the beginning of the week, but I think that Texas Tech needs to get a bit crazy and just let Jett Duffey be himself. Yost’s offense isn’t a quarterback-running offense, but it doesn’t have to be one-dimensional in that the quarterback just passes the ball. I think Duffey can make one read and perhaps put the defense in a position where they’re simply not sure what to do. If it isn’t a player that creates the space, then maybe it’s the scheme that puts pressure on the defense.

And I’m a huge proponent of trying to open up the middle of the field, so I’m all about some quick reads over the middle of the field for cheap yards. There’s no doubt that Oklahoma State is going to flood the middle, but Yost is smarter than me and needs to figure a way to open up the middle.

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FN 1. Ogbongbemiga and Hubbard are legitimately from Canada and maybe the Great White North is the recruiting hotbed that is untouched. Take off.

FN 2. The leading rusher, Armand Shyne, only has 256 yards, the leading receiver, T.J. Vasher, only has 248 yards, both average to about 62 yards a game. That’s not an offensive threat.

When Oklahoma State Has The Ball

I mentioned this earlier in the week, but Oklahoma State is definitely a three-headed monster on offense and they’re very good at what they do (FN 1). Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders is a big kid, much bigger than I expected, and his official height/weight says 6-2/195, but he’s a thick player that’s probably not as advanced as a passer, but he’s definitely dual threat and that’s a problem for Texas Tech. Sanders is completing 65% of his passes, averaging 8.6 yards per attempt, and has 8 touchdowns with 5 interceptions. Sanders may be a bit turnover prone, had a couple of picks and a fumble against Kansas State.

Add to that is running Chuba Hubbard (if you are curious, it is pronounced CHOO-buh) (6-1/207) who is an absolute load and is leading the nation is rushing with 938 yards in just 5 games, so that’s nearly 200 yards a game (it’s actually 188), 7.3 yards a carry and 10 touchdowns for the redshirt sophomore running back. The other top rusher is Sanders who has 380 yards thus far and averages 5.8 yards per touch. No other player has 100 yards rushing, so it’s a two-man operation at this point.

And Hubbard is a track guy, he’s fast, patient, and tough, so if you’re thinking that he’s not the complete package, then you are mistaken.

Receiver Tylan Wallace (6-0/185) is your main receiving threat and he’s the guy that’s stretching the field. Wallace averages 22 yards a catch, has 28 receptions on the year for 618 yards and 6 touchdowns. Just like CeeDee Lamb, Wallace just gets open and makes plays. The other receiver that will garner some catches is inside receiver Dillon Stoner (6-0/198) who has 19 receptions for 148 yards and 7.8 yards per catch. Stoner is going to move the chains, as is Landon Wolf (5-11/174) who has 12 receptions for 81 yards. No other receiver has double-figure receptions, but Jordan McCray is close with 7 for 77 yards. Jelani Woods (6-7/265) is the tight end and has 3 catches thus far.

I’ve not really heard much about the Oklahoma State offensive line, they’re led with Bryce Bray (6-5/300), a redshirt freshman at left tackle, Marcus Keyes (6-3/309) at left guard, redshirt junior Ry Schneider (6-3/320) at center, Johnny Wilson (6-3/304) at right guard, and Hunter Anthony (6-7/330) at right tackle. Interesting that three of the five linemen are generally around the 300 pound range rather than the 320 range. Should also note that Bray started at right guard before moving to left tackle last week against Kansas State, while Wilson started the first four games at center also before moving right guard last week. Anthony had his first start against the Wildcats. The fact that this offense is averaging 530 yards a game should be an indication that they’re playing well to quite well.

For Texas Tech, the defensive line and linebackers need to show back up from the first three games. Oklahoma State is so good rushing the ball, that if there’s not some resistance there, it could be a really long game. Coach Wells and Coach Peterson have mentioned that fit has been an issue and that’s the sort of thing that you tend to hear about in maybe two circumstances: 1) the players actually aren’t where they are supposed to be; or 2) players are getting pushed out of position. There’s probably more than these two options, but I think with the players who are playing along the line, they’re all smart good kids who I think know where they’re supposed to be defensively, so I think this is a matter of holding the line better. That’s always a tough task against Oklahoma and it may prove to be an equally tough task against the Cowboys.

I also tend to think that we’ll see a wide-open Wallace unless there’s this idea that maybe Wallace is bracketed the entire game, but even that may be a tough task. Wallace has yet to have a game of less than 80 yards and consistently averages 16 to 20 yards per catch, so he’s going deep. The safeties will have to be on point because he’s going deep, the question is if and when you’ll stop him. The other infuriating thing is that Sanders is very good at buying time, so if the defensive line doesn’t get to Sanders, the defenders will need to hold onto their butts. Sanders ability to miss defenders reminds me a bit of Mahomes as he sort of just sloughs off tacklers because he’s a decent size.

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FN. 1 I had made a big deal out of this last year, but going into Stillwater, Oklahoma State had won 9 games in a row against Texas Tech and last year’s 41-17 win snapped that 9-game streak from becoming 10 straight wins.

Special Teams

THIS WEEK ON STAKING THE PLAINS
* First Look . . . Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
* CFB Headlines: Week 5
* Texas Tech Football Scratch Pad | Jett Duffey Named the Starter
* New Year, New Challenge for Chris Beard and Texas Tech Basketball
* By the Numbers: Texas Tech and Big 12 Outlook (Week 6)
* Oklahoma State Preview | 23 Personnel Podcast – 113
* Using Analytics to Inform Gambling Picks (Week 6)
* TTU Football: At Least We Have Special Teams!

Special teams is led by kicker Matt Ammendola who has made 24 of 24 extra points and all 10 of his field goal attempts. The Cowboys employ a Aussie-rules punter in Tom Hutton who averages 40 yards a punt.

From a kicking standpoint, I don’t know that Texas Tech has an advantage, but the two previously unknown specialists for Texas Tech have done really well, McNamara is averaging 74 yards a kick and with Wolff, he’s been perfect.

Game Prediction

I don’t know that Texas Tech has a real advantage offensively, maybe running the ball, where Oklahoma did allow 217 yards against Texas for over 5 yards a carry. I think this is where Texas Tech will need to be very good and I think that’s not a pie-in-the-sky thought. That’s very realistic. In Oklahoma State’s 4 wins (FN 1), they’re essentially allowing less than 4 yards a carry, so run the ball effectively and I think there’s a good chance. I also think that if Duffey can be himself a bit, then he’ll expose the defense. OSU had a tough time stopping the dual-threat of Texas and Duffey is a poor-man’s version of that. Again, I’m a proponent of letting Duffey run to set up the pass. That’s risky because of the quarterback depth, but I think this is the best option.

Defensively, I suppose it depends on what Texas Tech defense shows up. For the defense, the first two opponents were terrible passing teams, so we didn’t get a feel for what the defense would do. Arizona and Oklahoma exposed them to a great extent, but with Oklahoma State, Wallace is the main threat where with Oklahoma, Lamb and Rambo were both guys that could beat you. That’s not to say that OSU doesn’t have other options, but Lamb and Rambo are #1.A and #1.B, while Wallace is the clear #1. Slowing down Hubbard is I think the biggest task and making him work for his yards are imperative. Because Hubbard can legitimately break almost any run for a touchdown, the Cowboys are giving him the rock 25-35 times a game and they’re running the ball almost 50 times a game overall. Oklahoma State is going to run the ball a lot.

The odds aren’t in favor of Texas Tech, just doing the stat charts are a bit depressing because at this point, Texas Tech doesn’t really have an offensive advantage against an okay defensive team.

I’ll take Oklahoma State to win by 10+ (FN 2).

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FN. 1 This is somewhat tangental, but Oklahoma State has 54 players on their roster from Texas. I usually know some of the players because Texas Tech tends to go after the same sort of guys, but I don’t recognize any of the Texas players really.

FN. 2 I actually think the game will be a bit closer than 10, but Oklahoma State will eventually prevail.

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