Football

Ten Things: Baylor 33, Texas Tech 30 (2OT)

It’s a loss.

1. Overall

It was a fumble. It should have a turnover, first and 10 Texas Tech at the 25 to win the thing in overtime with a field goal at the least.

That’s just not what was meant to be and this is one of those life lessons where you’re supposed to learn something about this, like there’s no point in being upset because you simply cannot control the situation. Baylor messed up, Texas Tech took control over that situation, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

After the game, and we’ll get to this, Wells said that he thought that the team took a step and I’d agree. Before the game, I thought that Baylor would win (I predicted 28-24 Baylor), but that this team would take a step and be competitive on a road game, which is something that I think we need to see this program do on more than one occasion. It seems like a lot of times, this team has been less than competitive on the road, and this team fought and if you’re in the fight, you have a chance to win.

A couple of more things here, I kind of love Wells’ sideline demeanor. He absolutely laid into Trey Wolff for the squib kick that should have been kicked really deep and he didn’t hold back when Keith Patterson had to call a timeout (I think because of there were 12 men on the field). I’m not worried about our perception of that situation, it’s intense and we’re all trying to win football games here, but we are absolutely used to that sort of coaching on the sidelines of the basketball court. And I think it’s the same thing of when your spouse lays into you for not being present or on your phone or whatever (I might be speaking from experience), they’re mad, but they’re not wanting to leave you, they just want you accountable. I’m good with that.

2. The Offense

The first half wasn’t great, but I thought the second half production was really pretty terrific. Lots of opportunities to score touchdowns that didn’t come into fruition. So the good was that Texas Tech was much better on third downs, in fact, I thought the offense improved significantly in third downs, going 8 of 18 overall and was 4 of 8 on third and longs (9+).

I thought that the running game was very good, a bit inconsistent, but very good and as a team, SaRodorick Thompson ran for 153 total yards (this doesn’t include the sacks), averaging 5.5 yards a carry, which is more than good enough to win the game. SaRodorick was an absolute horse and truly fun to watch. As Texas Tech fans, we haven’t seen someone like SaRodorick and he was really pretty much forced to do this all by himself and Armand Shyne just didn’t seem healthy and Ta’Zhawn Henry was maybe in street clothes and suspended for the game with some personal things, but should be back next week.

With Shyne and Henry out, there were no other options other than a walk-on or maybe a receiver trying to play that spot. So thin at running back beyond those three players.

From a passing perspective, I thought Jett Duffey was between a B and B+ in terms of performance. The interceptions weren’t good, but thinking back, Charlie Brewer threw similar interceptions and sometimes they just happen because of a missed read or he just didn’t see a defender. I think Wells said after the game that only one of the interceptions was because of a mis-read.

The offensive line was good for the most part, but they were uneven in some pass-protection, just letting some Baylor defenders off the line without being accounted for and Duffey just getting crushed and those have to be cleaned up. I think it would be safe to say that the offense was in those 3rd and longs because the offensive line just wasn’t blocked up properly.

3. The Defense

The first half play was absolutely stupid and I couldn’t have been happier with the play. However, letting up off the gas seems to be a second half issue and teams adjust accordingly, which is what happened last week and this week. The defense gave up too many seemingly long runs, Baylor averaged 4.6 yards a carry, and in the secondary, Texas Tech gave up 9 yards a pass, which isn’t ideal.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel like the defense is turning a corner because I simply don’t remember dominating halves of football for the defense, but I’d love to seem them put it all together. And it stinks in that the defense is still building that depth, so I’m not at all complaining about the process. I feel like this is one of those situations where if there was a bit more depth and a few fewer injuries, the defense is going to be pretty good. I especially appreciate how Patterson is rotating guys, so the starters next year aren’t going to be absolutely green, they’ll have lots of snaps on their resumes.

4. The Special Teams

Gosh, the squib kick by Wolff at the end of the half was a disaster and I’m not sure what he was told to do, but that wasn’t it. I don’t think he’ll ever not execute appropriately again.

One thing that I think Baylor took advantage of from a special teams perspective is that their returners all reversed field, so if they caught it on the left side, they reversed field pretty quickly and head to the right side and I’m guessing that they saw something on film where the coverage units would not stay in their lanes, but converge where the kick was supposed to go. So, if you can get outside, then that’s great, which is what Baylor did and they took advantage of that. I thought the coverage wasn’t good and that’s something that needs some work.

5. Offensive Notes

  • Jett Duffey was 31 of 42 for a 74% completion percent for 362 yards and 8.6 yards per attempt, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. I was fine with Duffey and he threw a ton of critical third down completions that I thought were absolutely critical. If I’m being critical, Duffey’s inability to lead the offense score in the red zone was something that needs work (and this makes it sound like it is entirely his fault and it is not for sure). The offense needs to score in the red zone and that means no penalties and no negative plays.
  • The offense was 5 of 6 in the red zone, but only had 2 touchdowns and had to settle for 3 field goals. The difference in the game was simply not being able to put it away in the red zone.
  • R.J. Turner was essentially a running back I felt like. The screens he took were really effective and the times he got down the field, he was good. Turner had 7 catches (on 8 targets) for 138 yards averaging 20 yards a catch with his longest being 79 yards.
  • I thought T.J. Vasher’s touchdown catch was just unbelievable and I always sort of lament that I wish that they would have gone more to Vasher more often, catching 6 for 46 on 7 targets) and I thought that the Duffey-Vasher combination was really good.
  • SaRodorick Thompson ended up with 153 yards rushing plus 24 yards on 5 passes, giving him a shade over 175 total yards, which is really fantastic from just one running back.
  • I loved the couple of opportunities that Erik Ezukanma had and the receiver position is going to be just fine moving forward with him and KeSean Carter on the outside.
  • I hated the two end-around or reverses run with Dalton Rigdon. I think the reverse was to the short side of the field and that’s something that I don’t understand from a football theory standpoint, you would seemingly want a bit more space for the receiver to operate in open field. Either way, I think that Rigdon is well suited as an inside receiver and can break big yards when he can shake, but I think I’d prefer to see someone with a bit more size and speed, like Carter, get a shot at those sorts of plays.
  • I’m again really appreciating the tight end in this offense, Travis Koontz had a really nice third down reception (I think) and Donta Thompson, who was in the #18 jersey because they accidentally left it in Lubbock (hey, I love the equipment staff for the football team and I can’t remember them making an error like this since I’ve been blogging, so you had better cut them some slack) caught two big passes as well, 2 for 24 yards total. I’d love to see these guys involved more, but I appreciate the tight end for sure.

6. Defensive Notes

  • Not a singular dominating performance like last week. Jordyn Brooks was again the leading tackler with 8, along with Douglas Coleman. I am all but certain that a Brooks pressure caused one of the Brewer interceptions, where Brooks had 2 for the day as well as a tackle for a loss.
  • Douglas Coleman really continues to impress and he’s really come into his own. He’s been so good this year and has yet another interception. Just terrific work for the senior and to have a knack to make plays like that is just something we haven’t seen in a long time.
  • I thought Xavier Benson really popped, especially in the first half. He’s going to be just fine and I really enjoy watching him play. He finished with 5 tackles and half a tackle for a loss.
  • The defensive line was good at times, the Eli Howard sack to put Baylor at the 1 yard line (question if Howard could have just fallen into the end zone, we’re again talking about an entirely different game) and Broderick Thompson I think is consistently good, 5 tackles and 1 sack.
  • The secondary still needs some work, there’s just so many guys running free and that’s probably my biggest complaint with the defense thus far, is the zone coverage isn’t as tight as you’d like and those crossing routes, when the opposing receivers get behind the linebackers, but before the safeties, are very wide open. I’d guess that this is one of those things that’s pretty tough to figure out and I’ve always thought that cornerback is the second toughest position to play in football, second to the quarterback position.
  • I think this is something that Patterson has mentioned after the Oklahoma loss, which is that the defense needs to be better about swarming and I think that’s still something that needs work as well as containing the outside run. I think that’s what the kids call setting the edge.
  • I’m not sure, but I think the two other interceptions, Zech McPhearson and Ja’Marcus Ingram, where great for them. The more turnovers the better and I thought that this was McPhearson’s best game to-date. And I am really pretty overall happy with the transfers that the staff has brought in, which is maybe a discussion for a different day.
  • My biggest complaint about the defense is that this is the second time that the defense essentially gave up 100 yards, the Arizona game, and now this game, where Eli Howard sacked Brewer and Texas Tech was at the 1 and Baylor had to drive to field goal position to just tie and rather than play aggressive, Texas Tech just left the middle of the field absolutely open and it felt like a gut-punch every time Baylor completed a pass. I did think that the sideline catch wasn’t really a catch and his foot was out of bounds, but apparently in a world where there are a million cameras, at McLane Stadium there are only 2 angles available.

7. Quotes

Head coach Matt Wells opening statement:

MATT WELLS: Proud of our guys, thought they fought. They spilled their hearts and guts out on that field. Tremendous effort by both teams. Very well-coached Baylor team. They do a great job.

It’s a program that I think is on the rise, but our guys went toe-to-toe with them. We matched every punch, we countered every punch. I thought our guys played their butts off. For that I’m so proud of them.

The only area we didn’t show up as the winner is that final score obviously. But that doesn’t take away my pride in the effort that our players played with. I thought they played their tails off.

On the fumble that was ruled an illegal snap:

Q. On the fumble in overtime, what explanation did you get?
MATT WELLS: Not much of one. I can’t wait to get one from the league as we get going. I know I’m going to have to be real professional right here, but I can’t wait to see and hear. I’ve already seen it to be honest with you. There’s going to have to be a lot of explanation. A lot of people have seen it. I saw it walking on the way in here.

Was told it was an illegal snap. I’ll kind of leave it at that.

Q. Reading between the lines…
MATT WELLS: Depends on the call. If they shut it down, it’s illegal snap, it’s a dead ball. If that was not an illegal snap, thought the QB was under the center, the ball hits the ground, it is a live football recovered by the Red Raiders first and 10, here we go.

Q. You thought it was the latter, I assume?
MATT WELLS: I absolutely did. I just watched the replay on two phones. We’ll just leave it at that.

On the team after 6 games:

MATT WELLS: Six games into year one, it’s exactly what you want. I look back two weeks ago, we took a big step last week. One can argue that we didn’t win this game, maybe you didn’t take a step. I think we did.

Appreciate and respect the effort of our guys. We were down a few guys. Thought Jett played well again. Thought our O-line protected him good at times. Then we had some breakdowns. That’s a really good D-line. 90 is good. Those guys inside are really good. That’s a senior-dominated defense. That’s where I want us to get to.

Eight seniors starting, three came back in the game in the third quarter, eight seniors on that defense. They’re big and strong. That’s what I’d like to get ours to at some point.

We matched blow for blow. To take that drive at the end of the game with Jett and the crowd and the noise, I mean, it was precision. They threw and caught the ball. SaRodorick picked up some good blitzes. We made plays all the way down the field to send the thing into overtime. Really proud of our guys.

Wells on having his team ready next week:

Q. How long big a challenge is it to you and your staff to get this team back up after losing like this?
MATT WELLS: It’s a challenge. But last week was a challenge, too. I think our staff will rise to the occasion. I think we’ve had that challenge two weeks in a row, coming off an embarrassing loss in Norman, then getting our guys back up and ready to play and rallying together, having a big home win, getting a patted on the back all weekend.

New in this culture and program is how do you handle success, defeat. This will be a new challenge, an emotional defeat right at the end of the game. I’m confident that it’s not just our staff but our seniors are going to have to do it.

Those three seniors on defense, Broderick, Doug, Jordan, Steele on offense, Donta Thompson, those guys got to get us going again.

I expect us to get right back off the mat and learn from this, go right back to work on Monday. That’s going to be part of this whole first year, is building this culture, how do we grind every single week.

I got no question right now sitting here today coming off this game that our guys will do it again on Monday.

8. Stats and Things

  • The defense gave up 408 total yards in the second half, 299 in the air and 109 on the ground.
  • Texas Tech had 8 penalties for 67 yards, so not a high yardage set of penalties, but there were 8. I thought that the penalty by Adrian Frye to hold as Baylor was trying to score a touchdown in regulation was the best penalty that I’ve ever seen. Just hold because they don’t get time on the clock and don’t let them score, so I almost don’t think that one should even be a negative.
  • Thompson’s fumble was darn near inexcusable because he didn’t even get hit and you could tell that he felt terrible as soon as it happened. I’d say that the fact that Yost went right back to Thompson for the next two plays maybe was a show of support and to tell him that he’s got to be great.
  • The time of possession was 31/29 in favor of Texas Tech, but was largely in favor of Baylor in the second half, 12:21 for Texas Tech and 17:39 for Baylor, while it was completely opposite of that in the first half, 18:39 to 11:21.
  • There were 43 rushing attempts to 42 passing attempts for Texas Tech.
  • Baylor had 11 tackles for a loss and I think that’s my biggest gripe about the offensive line as it seemed like a handful of those were just not blocking a defender and put Texas Tech in some tough down and distance positions.
  • Baylor averaged 28 yards per kickoff return compared to just 16 for Texas Tech. I think I would rather have someone other than Dadrion Taylor returning kickoffs (no offense to Taylor) as it seemed that maybe there was some hesitancy to his returns.

9. Looking Ahead

It’s time for that 11:00 a.m. kickoff world as Texas Tech hosts Iowa State for Texas Tech’s homecoming. The game will be played on FS1.

10. The Final Word

I know there are no moral victories in a game where wins and losses are what define you, but I feel that since the Oklahoma game, progress is being made. I hope that this culminates with a win over Iowa State next week. The Cyclones have had Texas Tech’s number for far too long and I feel that this current version of Texas Tech is hungry and playing good football (this is probably just me buying the hype, but I’m okay with that). I’d also add that Iowa State is coming off of being on the road against West Virginia, where the Cyclones pulled away in the second half, but maybe a two-game road stretch will wear on the Cyclones a bit.

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