Monday Morning Quarterback : Arkansas

That’s right, Kingsbury, this one DID feel good.

Was it just me, or was it refreshing to see Kingsbury unload a little on BERT in the post-game press conference?

This week, we talk about the surprising amount of rushing yards, the second half defense, 6 minutes and 25 seconds, and of course, Patrick Mahomes II.

Rushing Yards

Michael_LSRR – I was impressed with how well our guys played. The rushing defense held up better than expected. Those 7 and 8 minute drives can take the wind out of your sails, but it can do the same thing for an offense that is forced to attempt a field goal after one of those drives. Tech’s defense getting a three-and-out right out of the gate (for the only punt of the night) set the tone.

Brian DonCarlos – Arkansas knew what they were going to do and made it clear all week. We all watched what happened last year and knew what was coming. Often times, knowing what they’re going to do and stopping it are two clearly different things. However, Tech set the tone early on Saturday by forcing a 3 and out on the game opening drive, then proceeded showcase the Gibbs “bend but don’t break” defense throughout the second half (more on that later). Cutting their rushing yardage in half, especially when Collins went 27/212 by himself last year, feels absolutely huge. The Tech defensive line did it’s job by not getting completely blown off the ball, forcing Collins to slow down a little as he hit holes, allowing the LB’s and safeties time to get to ball (gap integrity!) Arkansas was still able to take out decent chunks of yardage, as evidenced by the 5.3 ypc, but it didn’t seem as easy going for the Hogs as it did last season. Also, seeing the Tech defenders actually wrapping up more often than not is such a wonderful sight to see.

MeestahRogers – Tech carried the ball for 8.2 yards per carry until those final two drives to drain the clock. If you would have told me going into the game that one team would rush for 8.2 ypc and one would rush for 5.3, I would have thought Tech would have the latter. Tech was able to get into great run fits, which I have to think had a great deal to do with how effective the quarterback was through the air (more on that later) and how he read the defense.

Arkansas ran the ball for 228 yards. Not one player having 228 yards, not in one half, but in the entire game. Now, this may not seem like something to brag about, but Tech held Arkansas to roughly half the rushing yardage from last year with roughly the same defensive personnel. Alex Collins is a TREMENDOUSLY talented running back. Their offensive line is massive. And yet Texas Tech, who can’t play defense and can’t stop the run, held them enough to win the game.

Second Half

Michael_LSRR – The last two games have shown that Gibbs is able to make necessary adjustments at halftime. Someone else here at STP could tell you what those adjustments actually are… all I know is that they have worked. I wasn’t able to find this officially, but by my count, Tech held Arkansas under 100 yards rushing in the second half with 12 of those yards coming on Collins’ final carry of the night. We all know how that one ended. EXCLAMATION POINT.

Brian DonCarlos – It wasn’t until after the game that Twitter brought to my attention that Tech only gave up 3 points in the 2nd half; I was so wrapped up in the game that I didn’t even think about it. However, after two games we’ve started seeing real evidence of the mythical “second half adjustments” that always seem to get talked about but are rarely ever witnessed. Having an offense that we can actually be confident in is a welcome change of pace, but knowing that TTU has a defense that can possibly adjust to an opposing team to give the offense a chance to pull away is something I sincerely hope is not a mirage. And when you include Jakeem Grant & Special Teams, all three phases of the team can keep Tech in a game. Defense just being relatively competent is huge, and it’s something that we’ll truly get to see tested next week against a more balanced TCU team with Boykin, Josh Doctson, & Aaron Green.

MeestahRogers – Like Brian, I was so engrossed in the game that I didn’t realize that Arkansas only scored 3 points in the second half until after the game. When I think back to the second half of the Arkansas game last year, I remember seeing our defense fading, giving up huge runs and long, extended clock-draining drives. They just couldn’t get off the field and the physicality of the Arkansas line and their two running backs absolutely ground Tech into dust.

This year, Tech came out strong. Arkansas went on some extended drives, but their red zone efficiency issue reared its ugly head again. They had a 3rd and 2 on the 5 yard line and they are throwing the ball? Come on Enos, I could have called that red zone possession better from my living room. Either way, Tech turned in an excellent performance in the second half, allowing the offense to grow the lead and really apply pressure to the Arkansas offense.

6 Minutes, 25 Seconds

Michael_LSRR – As much as I enjoyed the fact that Tech was able to answer a 7 minute drive in the first half from the Arkansas offense with a 26 second scoring drive of their own, this was a relief to see. Having the ability and the wherewithal to use the clock as an ally was essential. It even forced Arkansas to burn two of their timeouts. The clock management at the end of the first half was a bit lacking, including about a 10-15 second runoff before calling a timeout.

Brian DonCarlos – Leading up to the game, I expressed the thought that TTU needed to find more balance with the offense to help keep the defense off the field (Tech was averaging about ~2:00 per scoring drive). Nowhere did I want to see that longer drive more than in the second quarter, on the drive that culminated with Grant’s passing TD. However, when Kliff and company decided they wanted to eat clock, they showed that they actually did hold that card in the deck. The RB corps was fantastic, headed by your Big 12 Leading Rusher DeAndre Washington, and I think we’ll continue to see them play a key factor in Tech’s success, regardless of how featured they appear to be. Also, Justin Stockton is fast. Real fast.

MeestahRogers – We’ve heard several times how fast the Texas Tech offense is – how most of our scoring drives are two minutes and under. One of my concerns coming into this game was if the offense would be capable of hanging onto the ball if need be. Kingsbury has said that he doesn’t slow down the offense to give the defense a break, which in a game like this, can hurt you more than help. I was pumped with the Grant touchdown pass to Davis, but only taking :26 seconds off the clock worried me; sending the defense back out there after the equivalent of a quick three and out. But when Tech had a two score lead in the fourth quarter, Kingsbury slowed the offense way down. He and Mahomes allowed the play clock to wind down and drain the scoring opportunities from Arkansas. Tech held onto the ball that final drive for 6 minutes and 25 seconds, which is an eternity. Tech drove down the field and was in position to score (and I honestly didn’t care if they scored on this drive, I wanted the clock running for as long as possible). Tech took over possession with roughly half way through the 4th quarter and surrendered the ball with only 2 minutes left, nowhere near enough time for an offense like Arkansas’ to score twice. It was a thing of beauty.

Patrick Mahomes, II

Michael_LSRR – Thanks to ESPN8 (The Ocho) and their juggling of games, I didn’t get to start watching until Tech was already up 7-0. I say that because I’m not so sure how bad the first interception was from Mahomes. I feel like his second one was moot, as it was a sort of Hail Mary to end the half. Judging by their conversation after that interception, I think Kingsbury may have actually told Mahomes to make that throw regardless.

I mention the two interceptions, not to be a negative Nancy, but mainly to point out that those throws made up HALF of his incompletions. Our guy went 26/30. He evaded defenders. He even had a completion to Lauderdale WHILE BEING TACKLED for a first down. Unfortunately, that last throw was erased thanks to offsetting penalties, but you get the picture. Until Saturday, his only two starts away from Jones Stadium had been in Ames and Arlington, yet he strolled into Fayetteville like he owned the place. His confidence in SEC territory in one of the biggest wins of the Kingsbury era is well beyond his years.

Brian DonCarlos – My gracious, Pat Mahomes. He’s only started 7 games, and it already feels he’s well on the road to folk hero territory; his name only spoken in hushed reverence, parents regaling their children with his tales as they tuck them in at night. As Seth said in the 10 thoughts post on Sunday, the man is just so composed. Icy. Bad play? That’s ok, there’s going to be another one after it. Bad series? We’ll get the ball back and score on the next one then. Opponent taking away the deep ball? Then we’ll pick them apart with screens, and if need be, Pat will use his legs and even throw himself into a lead block. Pat threw for 243, completing 26 of 30 passes for one touchdown, and picked up 58 yards rushing for 2 more TDs. Compared to his other games, the stats aren’t dazzling, but this may have been one of his finest performances yet. I’ll watch plays, see him get corralled, and foolishly assume the play is over only to see Pat either scramble out and somehow make it the 10 yards to a first down, or find a receiver out of nowhere to turn a play from certainly negative to transcendentally positive. I keep waiting for Mahomes to regress to a mean, but the more I watch him, the more I realize that his “mean” is so much higher than everybody else. It’s getting progressively harder and harder to not gush over our QB, and I know he’s going to have his off-games, but given what we’ve seen. . . man, just enjoy it and let it ride.

MeestahRogers – So Mahomes didn’t have his typical stellar numbers. So what? The guy threw 4 incomplete passes, two of which were inconsequential interceptions. The Arkansas defense took away the deep pass. So what? Mahomes hit just about everything underneath. Kingsbury acknowledged that they identified advantages of our inside receivers on their linebackers and nickel backs. This may have been the most we’ve seen Mahomes run the ball, but when Arkansas commits 7 defenders to the pass, running lanes open up (think that draw straight up the middle where he gained something like 25 yards). Mahomes just operated within the system and took what the Arkansas defense gave him and made them pay. I was concerned about his composure on the road in this kind of hostile environment, because honestly, AT&T in Dallas and Ames aren’t that intimidating in my book. He was cool and collected, never looked rattled, never out of sync and got through yet another game without a sack, but this game was different because he wasn’t sent running for his life. With Mahomes behind center, this offense is capable of moving the ball and scoring everytime they have the ball. When was the last time we truly believed that was possible?


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