1. What Does it All Mean? When I do these sorts of write-ups, it’s usually so much easier to write about losses because there’s more things to highlight and discuss. With wins, I sorta just want to wash over everything and there’s this general feeling of elation where I just want to revel in whatever sort of happiness that I feel as the result of Texas Tech notching a win over a loss.
There’s probably going to be some folks discredit the win and that’s fine. Texas isn’t the best team, with only 4 wins on the year and they have to play Baylor next week as well. Texas had near wins against California (loss by 1), against Oklahoma State (loss by 3) and now they lose to Texas Tech by 3 as well. The fact that Texas Tech did win doesn’t change anything for me because for me, this isn’t about the Longhorns, but about Texas Tech. Part of the progression of a program is winning on the road and that’s something that Texas Tech has struggled with for quite a long time. Texas Tech only won three games on the road all year, at Arkansas, at Kansas and at Texas.
What this game means is that for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders are hopefully making that next step. Don’t forget that just four short months ago, the Big 12 media picked Texas Tech to finish 8th in the Big 12 and that 8th place really wasn’t all that close. Behind Texas, West Virginia and Kansas State. At the very least, Texas Tech will finish 5th or 6th in the Big 12, depending on what West Virginia has to do with their last two games of the year.
2. Little People Big World.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 27, 2015
There’s so many aspects to this play that’s so fun for a handful of reasons. A. In the post game press conference, Kingsbury credited Eric Morris for finding the play, from Texas A&M vs. Auburn:
Yeah, I need to cite that. That play was from the Auburn vs. Texas A&M game. Coach [Eric] Morris was watching the game live and saw it and got the film and we put it in practice this week and ran it.
B. I love that the coaches actually implemented a play the week of the game, the fact that Kingsbury made sure to credit offensive coordinator Eric Morris and executed that play to the point of perfection.
C. Kingsbury and Morris were darn near prepared for every situation and I hope you think that this says something about their preparation for the game. I nearly wrote this week that if you give Kingsbury a full week to prepare for a game offensively, you won’t outscore Texas Tech. Sometimes I hate to write things down for fear of jinx, but that appears to be Kingsbury’s way that he operates. He did it while at Texas A&M, he’s done it for the lone bowl game that he’s coached at Texas Tech and he did it here.
D. I hope you also consider that play a little bit about Kingsbury’s progression as a coach. Leaving no stone unturned. Texas Tech needs to practice this particular play because you absolutely never know when you’re going to need to fake a victory formation and run it for a touchdown. Seriously, who the flip does that?
E. I haven’t even talked about the play itself, which was beautifully designed. Jakeem Grant just hides behind the right guard to an extent. Being patient and having to wait for that defensive end to overcompensate, rush the edge and then Grant just makes the play.
F. The first comment from the video embedded above says, “two words: chicken sh-t”. Apparently implying a curse word is better than actually writing the curse word. Aside from that, I think a lot of Texas fans probably think that this play is a “cheap” play. Guess what? Don’t. Even. Care.
3. Two Completely Different Halves. Before we get going here, we should really credit the Texas Tech for a terrific first half, except for one play. The first half for both Texas Tech and Texas was tentative at best, Texas Tech managing just 88 yards and Texas managing just 60 on 19 plays. And for most of the second quarter, the defense did it’s job, holding Texas to a field goal to start the quarter, a punt, a Nigel Bethel II interception and the faucet started to open. Chris Warren ran for 91 yards on a terrific touchdown run, but the defense held again, forcing the second turnover in the quarter as Pete Robertson forced the fumble and recovered by J.J. Gaines, another punt for the Longhorns and then the half ends. The second half was the exact opposite of holding Texas really at all. Texas Tech did a good job of holding the Longhorns to 170 yards in the half, 91 of which came on just one play. That’s not a bad days work, but it also speaks to the defense’s ability to give up lots of big plays. The second half was a completely different animal as the defense simply couldn’t hold Texas, despite having a 10 point lead. The Longhorns ran for 73 yards in the third quarter and then allowed 192 yards in the fourth quarter alone. That’s good for an entire game. It’s tough to write about the defense simply because I feel like we’ve been down this road a thousand times this year, which is at times, the defense will play well, but there will be a play here and a play there where the defense just completely misses on a tackle and it’s a huge play after huge play. At some point, everyone could tell that the defense was absolutely gassed and had nothing left in the tank. That’s what happens when there’s no depth and that’s what I think the defense is facing this year.
4. Washington to the Rescue. I was seriously doubting my thoughts prior to the game when DeAndre Washington and the rushing offense was stuffed for 4 yards on 6 carries. Mahomes looked shaky, which we’ll talk about shortly, and the Texas Tech offense seemingly couldn’t generate anything on the ground. Again, maybe credit goes to Kingsbury and Morris for sticking with the run because Texas Tech ran 18 times in the second quarter, 13 times in the third quarter and 14 times in the fourth quarter. That’s right, Texas Tech didn’t just play the cards they were given, but they doubled-down on the run for the rest of the game despite being virtually shut out. The end result was 28 carries for DeAndre Washington for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. Another masterful and dominating performance by the senior running back. Like a lot of you, I was watching the game with family who are not Red Raiders and as the second quarter wore on, they were generally shocked at the volume of runs and the success of Washington, prompting some folks to ask, “Who is that number 21?” He’s special and it was beautiful to soak in all game long.
5. Despite Turnovers. There are four games where Texas Tech had a negative turnover margin this year, -3 against Baylor, -2 against Oklahoma, -2 against Oklahoma State and -2 against Texas. Three fumbles by the Texas Tech offense and an interception darn nearly cost this team the win. We could probably debate whether or not to really count the third fumble as it was by Mahomes at the end of the first half, the Longhorns had no time left on the clock. In any event, it’s rare to win, on the road, especially when you’re in the negative on turnover margin. A huge part of this was the ineptness of the Texas offense, but the other part of it was the fact that Texas Tech had three of those turnovers in the first half, giving themselves the ability to overcome some of those mistakes.
6. 4th and 7. The Longhorns are driving, down by 3 and Texas Tech forces a 4th and 7 (this is the drive right before the, “Little People Big World” play). As previously discussed, the Longhorns have been driving the ball for the better part of the second half and have few answers, but on this particular drive, Texas is sitting at 2nd and 9 when they are called for an ineligible man downfield, which was maybe a bad call, but Texas benefited from a block in the back on a kickoff that wasn’t called (the moral to this story is that these things tend to even out and blaming refs doesn’t change the outcome). Now at 2nd and 14, Texas Tech stops Warren for no gain and it’s 3rd and 14 where Swoopes runs for 7 yards and now, with the game in the balance, Texas is faced with a 4th and 7. The obvious choice here is that Texas is going to run the ball and it appears that this is going to happen, but when Texas Tech lines up with 8 players in the box, the Longhorns call timeout. Maybe they simply outsmart themselves or maybe Swoopes things he’s going to do something he hasn’t been able to do all game long, which is complete a pass for significant yardage in a high leverage situation, but Swoopes throws it deep and it falls incomplete. Let’s take the mere fact that a pass play was called in this situation vs. the very next play where Texas Tech has a play ready to go, one that literally seals the game.
7. Finish the Play.
Mahomes under throws a pass to WR Devin Lauderdale and creates an opportunity where Lauderdale has to become the defender on the play. Lauderdale has to make a real quick decision, and it really shouldn’t go unnoticed that the time period he goes from receiver to defender is seconds, maybe less than that. Rather than allow Texas to make the interception, Lauderdale finishes the play, knocking the ball loose and Jakeem Grant is in the right place at the right time, catching the ball mid-air and running 38 yards for pay dirt. Grant absolutely makes the play here, but that play doesn’t happen without Lauderdale making that split decision.
8. 4,283. That’s the total yardage that QB Patrick Mahomes had by the end of the game. Mahomes passed for 372 yards, going 22 of 39 (not his best day by any means) with just 1 passing touchdown on the day and averaging 9.5 yards per attempt. Add in 70 yards running the ball on 16 carries along with another short touchdown and you have maybe the best returning quarterback in the Big 12. Just a sophomore, you can tell he’s still figuring things, but he never folded. An early interception could have absolutely killed Mahomes’ confidence for the rest of the game, but what ended up happening was Mahomes just getting better and the coaching staff taking some of whatever pressure he was feeling off of Mahomes by running the ball so much, a lot of it by Washington and Mahomes together. That confidence was on full display with Texas Tech down by 4 to Texas, 38-34. Texas had just run the ball for what felt like their 100th rushing touchdown of the half (it was actually Tyrone Swoopes putting the Longhorns ahead with a 46 yard touchdown run). Texas Tech has the ball at their own 25 after Texas kicked the ball out of the endzone and Mahomes is completing passes to Reginald Davis while Washington is running for 13 yards.
The easy call here is for Mahomes to take something really simple and basic as Texas Tech is sitting at 2nd and 4 at Texas’ 41 yard line. That would be really easy, but Mahomes, not lacking a bit of confidence, heaves the ball to Jakeem Grant on a go route for 40 yards.
That’s how you put a dagger in an opponent. Texas was ahead for a mere 1:13 for the game.
9. 1,455 and 1,153 For the first time in program history, Texas Tech has a 4,000 yard passer, a 1,000 yard rusher and a 1,000 yard receiver. Jakeem Grant only made 2 catches for the game, the 40 yard bomb just mentioned and the 65 yard touchdown after the Lauderdale hit.
Grant finished the day with 105 yards receiving, 42 yards rushing and 60 yards on kickoff returns for a total of 207 total all-purpose yards on the day.
Don’t look now, but what you’re witnessing is a change in philosophy, a large part of it because of the running of Washington, but also because Mahomes can run too. Believe it or not, Texas Tech had 51 carries to Texas’ 48.
10.a. Kingsbury. Because I hardly ever get to see a game live, I thought that FOX showed us a bit of head coach Kliff Kingsbury completely fired up for the entire game. Again, I’m never there, so I don’t get to see this stuff, but was engaged and really animated (in a good way) in talking up the players and when the offense was huddled, he was pointing and speaking emphatically. I’m good with either side of Kingsbury, the calm and collected version or the animated version. And maybe Kingsbury sensed that he needed to keep the team focused and completely into the game. I don’t know that I have much to add to that, other than the idea that it stood out to me last night. It was good to see.
A. Ian Sadler had a huge game, but not for that fumble, he would had a terrific game. For the day, Sadler had 6 catches for 108 yards.
B. Devin Lauderdale also was huge, catching 4 for 84. When he’s completely dialed in, he’s as as tough of a player on the field.
C. The offensive line churned and churned and churned yards. They did allow 4 sacks, but that Texas defensive line is pretty good. Allowing the runners to gain 293 yards is the big takeaway here.
D. Freshman D’Vonta Hinton led the team with 8 tackles, along with Malik Jenkins, who had to fill in at times for an injured Micah Awe, who finished with 7 tackles on his own. Hinton had 1.5 tackles for a loss and Jinkens had half of one.
E. Pete Robertson had maybe his best game of the year, registering 7 tackles on the day to go along with a huge forced fumble of Texas’ tight end.
F. Texas Tech won the time of possession by about 20 seconds.
G. Texas Tech was terrible at third downs this game, converting only 4 of 13.
H. Maybe the more important stat though is that Texas Tech converted 4 of 5 red zone opportunities into touchdowns.
I. Yes, field goals suck, but it was the difference in the game and Clayton Hatfield kicked a 51 yard and a 38 yard field goal. He finished the year 14 of 16.
J. I don’t care about being anyone’s rival. I just care about winning football games.
K. Twitter Moments:
What a thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/g22Dg379D7
— Clayton Hatfield (@clayton_shat14) November 27, 2015
Jakeem Grant catches the game-winning touchdown against Texas. Note the guns up. pic.twitter.com/yd3mYM7Zfu
— Brad Tollefson (@Brad_Tollefson) November 27, 2015