Ten Things: Oklahoma State 70, Texas Tech 53

We delve into ten things with Texas Tech’s gut wrenching loss to Oklahoma State, after being up by 17, twice, the Red Raiders lose by 17.

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Ten Things

1. 70. I’m sports depressed after that one. Just a kick in the gut in so many ways. It’s games like that where I can’t figure out how I’ll write something worth your time after something like that. You’ve already formulated your opinions. I thought going into this game that Texas Tech had a legitimate chance in this game and I think that was true. Oklahoma State has a significantly better defense and for much of the game it didn’t really matter. Texas Tech’s offense scored 53 points and it was 17 short. 17 short. That’s not to say that the offense didn’t have it’s faults, because it did, but 70 flipping points. 662 yards of total offense. 184 rushing yards. 478 passing yards.

2. 17. 17 points isn’t enough. Twice. It’s the difference in the game. I’m pretty much at a loss for words.

3. Grant is So Special. I haven’t written as many loving tributes to Jakeem Grant as I should have. They’ve mostly been focused on DeAndre Washington, but son of a gun, Jakeem has been nothing but terrific. Aside from the absolutely incredible 90 yard play, Texas Tech doesn’t even keep it close without Grant on this one and truthfully, Texas Tech isn’t even close to being what they are without him offensively. From the special teams plays to the consistent play. He’s improved so much over the course of the summer, going from a guy that was a big iffy in terms of how he played and being able to catch the ball, to a receiver that is, by far, the most reliable receiver on the team. He’s tough as nails. He’s as shifty as the day is long and he’s makes plays almost every single game. Jakeem, you have earned a place in my heart and you’re just an absolute joy to watch. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

4. Johnson Thrown Out. What a terrible call. Talk about changing the course of the game with a call that was questionable at best. It would be one thing if the receiver truly was defenseless, but the receiver knew the ball was headed his way when the play was called. The funny thing after that play, Keenon Ward was the defender that was guarding the receiver that caught the very next pass (this isn’t a slight against Ward, I really like Ward as a player, just coincidence). The tide truly turned on that play. The defensive line parted wide open on the next rushing play. What had been a relatively tight and well played defensed just sort of gave in after Johnson was ejected. I don’t complain about refs, I just don’t. That was a terribly unfortunate call, and it is one that was justified because it was maybe facemask-to-facemask, but everything we’ve been told about targeting wasn’t true with that play and it was as textbook of a tackle that you could want — facemask up, wrap it up, and hit him hard. I realize the issues with head injuries and probably more sensitive than most, but that never thought that this was one that needed to be called. Meanwhile, the late hit on Jakeem Grant was helmet-to-helmet against Grant, who was out of bounds. The defensive lineman lowered his head to get to Grant’s level and hits Grant in the earhole. I can’t explain the difference between the two.

5. Madison’s Regression and Bethel’s Progression. I wish I could count the number of times that Tevin Madison was passed on during the game. It was a lot. And before I go much further, you all should know that I think all of these guys are great guys, from all accounts Tevin Madison is a standout human being, but he really regressed this game, having problems finding the ball and there were a lot of plays made on his side this week. The weird thing is that Madison and Bethel switched sides this week, maybe the thought process was that Glidden was the bigger threat and Washington wasn’t, but Washington ended up catching 4 passes for 200 yards. I didn’t think that was really possible, but apparently it is.

But then you see Nigel Bethel, II start to get his sea legs after being out for the better part of the first of the year and he looks like a different player than he did three games ago. He’s on top of the receiver and making plays. And make no mistake, that part of the reason why I think that Bethel wasn’t playing was maybe because of some attitude issues or communication issues between he and Gibbs. But those things got worked out and here he is making this team better (although it doesn’t seem like it).

6. Little From the Outside. Another game and another day where the z-receiver spot accounts for almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. Reginald Davis had 1 catch for 14 yards and that was it. Devin Lauderdale was better, at least catching 4 passes for 49 yards and quite literally, the defense can simply ignore the outside receiver spot and I don’t have a clue about how to fix it. My hope was that Darrin Chiaverini would be able to solve some of that, but Dylan Cantrell was hurt from the beginning of the year and without any real competition to push Davis, Davis is out there and he’s getting snaps, but he’s more of a blocker than anything else at this point. I’m just so bummed about that series of events and I wish that he could just be better. It’s just not happening and I just can’t figure out what is, or is not happening to make him such a non-factor.

And this isn’t for a lack of trying because there were times that Mahomes would sling the ball down the field, sometimes in double coverage. Maybe my expectations should be different. That was the side of the field that Michael Crabtree roamed and maybe I’m way too biased for my own good. I know that position can be productive.

7. A Defensive Line that Doesn’t Push. Sometimes I feel like it’s a personnel thing, that Texas Tech just doesn’t have the personnel yet to make things happen. With Texas Tech still ahead by 3 points and Oklahoma State having the ball at Texas Tech’s 28 yard line and Oklahoma State driving the ball after recovering the 4th and 1 fumble, the defensive line consisted of Breiden Fehoko, Branden Jackson and Gary Moore. The Texas Tech defensive line was slanting to their left. The play was going to the side where Gary Moore was rushing, the left defensive end spot. He has no chance because he weighs 240 and he’s essentially lined up between the guard and the tackle. He’s blown up off the ball. This is not his fault. He’s not supposed to take on the guard and tackle and win. At the same time, D’Vonta Hinton tries to fill the gap and he falls down before he is able to make the play. On the very next drive, the defensive line consists of Pete Robertson, Branden Jackson, Demetrious Alston (I think) and Brieden Fehoko. For Oklahoma State, it’s pretty simple. It’s a zone-read and the offensive line double-teams Alston and Fehoko and Robertson and Jackson are playing the edges. Jackson is playing the running backs and Robertson hesitates and eventually engages with the right tackle, but at this point it is inconsequential.

That’s just two examples of what seems like a defensive line that either has the wrong personnel or just doesn’t have the horses to make a difference. I really don’t know how to solve that problem without having some new bodies. At this point, it just seems so rare to have the defensive line bully any part of the offensive line. Some of that is the youth being served with Fehoko playing so much, but there are almost zero instances that stand out to me where the defensive line dominates anyone or puts the offensive line on their heels. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen and at this point, I’m convinced that it begins and ends with the defensive line and getting more size and strength there. It’s easier said than done. And I think I’ve felt this way since Robertson was moved to that pass-rushing defensive end spot. And this isn’t to say that Robertson shouldn’t play, but When the opposing team is just running the ball down your throat and you don’t have an answer, something has to give.

8. Blocking. If you want a positive from today, it’s the fact that the offensive line looked darn near spectacular against one of the best defensive lines in the country. I didn’t think they played perfectly, but if you want hope for the remainder of the schedule, it’s that the offensive coaches figured out a way to mitigate one of the best defensive lines and best defensive players in the nation in Ogbah, while accounting for over 600 yards of offense. Emeka Okafor and Tony Morales were pretty good and Kingsbury decided to roll out Brad Pearson for a good part of the game as an H-back and blocking back, especially in the first half. The protection was there for the most part and Mahomes did have to scramble often, but DeAndre Washington chipping and the rest of the line kept Mahomes upright in a game where I thought the line would absolutely struggle.

9. Blame. Last night, I was who was to blame for the loss and I am admittedly not good at assessing a target. I’ve always felt that games, for the most part, are so danged cumulative, with mistakes filled through an entire game that to just pin game on a thing or event is usually unfair. I feel that way for this game as well. Yeah, the defense gave up 70 points, which may be the most ever for this defense, and the offense sputtered and turned the ball over in the second half. I don’t really have an explanation as to how or why the offense only managed two touchdowns in the second half. I didn’t feel that the offense was just terrible so much as the Oklahoma State defense and offense played really well. Oklahoma State’s offense scored touchdowns on six of 10 possessions.

I’m horrible at identifying specific play call instances, saying that the coach should have done this or should have done that in regards to how a game is called. I’m terrible at thinking about coaching mistakes (it’s the reason why I never have coaching as a category on the weekly match up post). The only mistake, but ultimately it was a mistake that I didn’t think mattered, was Kingsbury’s hesitation on going for two in the last touchdown. I say it doesn’t matter because the timeouts ended up not being important headed down the stretch (at least I didn’t think so).

10. I Still Believe. I’ll be honest. I’m an emotional wreck. Not just for this game, but for other reasons too. Without being too vague, but without giving too much detail, I’m actually mad at another human being and they’ve done something completley selfish and it has affected me in a negative way, although they have no idea that I’m mad. The reason I’m telling you this is because when I started writing, I was already angry. And I don’t get angry, but I’m angry. I’m writing watching this game and I’m angry for something that I can’t control, but affects me and the team that I love to watch and follow, the team that gives me so much joy (win or lose), just gave up 70 points after being up by 17, twice. But you know what? Even though I’m personally angry (I hate to be so secretive about this, but maybe in a year or 6 months I’ll be able to tell you all) and all of these things are going through my head, I still think this was the outcome (not the exact score) that was going to happen at the end of the day. I shouldn’t be feeling good right now, but guess what? I do. I think Texas Tech is going to be okay. Texas Tech beating and playing with the #12 team in the nation is pretty good and they’ve done that against two of the best teams in teh nation while getting blown out by the other two. I know that this game was a litmus test for a lot of you, but for me, the litmus test starts today and for the next three weeks. The wins and losses will tell you all you need to know about this team. And I’m probably too easy on everyone, but year four is where it starts and where the improvement has to start making improvements by leaps and bounds.


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