Weekly Conversation: Arizona State

Travis and Seth get literary and footballery in this week’s edition of the Weekly Conversation.

Seth: Well . . . hello resounding win against an FCS opponent, something that hasn’t happened in quite some time . . . how’s it going?

Travis: Of the two of us, I am by far the fan with the least amount of knowledge and understanding of the finer points of the game. That said, I really liked what I saw on Saturday. Mahomes continues to show that he is truly a special talent and like you continue to say, I hope everyone takes a second to appreciate what they are watching while he is here.

And overall I’m going to allow myself to be happy with the team for a minute. If we can work ourselves into a lather over a closer than expected early season win, we damn sure should allow ourselves to be happy with a 52 point win.

And how about that Ondre Pipkens? Monster. You’ve already written thousands of words on the game, so give m some goods on what you expect Saturday against ASU?

Seth: Well, I do love Pipkins and I’m grateful about his play in just one game, but more than that, I’m hopeful that his attitude, work ethic and example of just how strong and big you need to be is an example to these young guys like Broderick Washington, Joe Wallace and Nick McCann. If Pipkins can leave that sort of legacy that can be passed on, then that’s invaluable. Because we all see exactly how Pipkins is a game-changer, I hope those young guys can emulate that.

I think this game against Arizona State is going to be a bit uneven for Texas Tech. ASU is really known for getting after quarterbacks and they do a fantastic job of making life uncomfortable. Kingsbury is right to push his line to be technically sound because ASU has the athletes that SFA doesn’t and the Sun Devil defenders will get to Mahomes. Mahomes is special, but he’s not invincible and he’s going to need more help from his offensive line. Defensively, it will be interesting to see how Texas Tech contains their quarterback, who can run and is pretty efficient passing the ball. I think he’s a better runner than passer at this point, but he’s young and just figuring things out.

One of the things that I think you noticed after the game when Kingsbury spoke was that after a 52 point win, he wasn’t all that pleased, really with just the offense and how they performed. We really haven’t seen Kingsbury push buttons like this since he’s been here. Would love your thoughts on the psychological aspect of what Kingsbury is doing, especially since he didn’t waste any time to be critical.

Travis: It’s fun to watch his growth as a coach. It seems that he’s learning how to strategically lead, so rather than reacting to an immediate occurrence, he is reacting to the situation 2 or 3 steps down the road. For instance, in the past, he might have been more quick to praise the team’s overall performance on Saturday night, but it seems that he’s learning by experience. Instead of blanket praise, he’s pinpointing areas for improvement publicly, while privately I imagine he’s building those kids up (see Monday’s WWE event). I’ve always said Kingsbury has an old soul. I think that side of him is beginning to take over.

So you sent me a great book recommendation over the summer (The Sisters Brothers). I’m about halfway through and really enjoy it. I also just got a biography on Evel Kneviel by Leigh Montville and am enjoying that. I was a bit surprised to learn that early in life he was a straight up criminal who tormented his hometown of Butte, Montana with armed robbery and petty theft. Interesting to say the least. Are you reading anything good right now?

Seth: Yes, I went back to the Jim Harrison well and am reading Dalva, it’s the story about a woman who tries to find the son she gave up for adoption. Dalva is the main character and as I picked this book, it made me realize how few books I read that have a female as the lead of the story. It had never been intentional and I had never thought about it until just recently, but it was one of those things that I noticed. In any event, it’s a fantastic read and it’s not something that I normally would have picked up, but I’m glad that I did. Harrison has a way wit words that are really unlike anything that I’ve read, he’s Hemingway, in a way, but more eloquent and beautiful with his words.

And I loved The Sisters Brothers and I think the author of that has written another book so I’ll be checking that out soon.

And you’ve started this terrific bit of fiction on STP (where we basically cover all of the humanities), what motivated you to go in this direction? Also, since we’re a bit short on time, any thoughts about Saturday’s game? I’m expecting it to be a close game, but I think Texas Tech’s offense is a bit better than Arizona State’s, while the defenses may be a push. Can’t wait to see Texas Tech’s defense play a power five opponent.

Travis: The fiction idea is something that has been floating around for quite some time but it wasn’t until last weekend that it really crystallized for me. I’ve been reading a lot about the “white working class,” and feel drawn to its inspection because that’s where I came from. Those are my people.

Kevin Williamson is a brilliant writer for National Review (and also happens to be from Lubbock) and he’s written about how entire communities are dying off and no one really pays attention.

And there’s a highly acclaimed book called Hillbilly Elegy that sets out to explain the mindset of rural, predominantly white working class America.

So I’m drawn to telling that story in my own way, to describe how life on the South Plains might not always be rainbows and lollipops, using fictional characters that I can see in vivid detail when I close my eyes. And while there are perils and bad seeds, there is also ample goodness.

Lubbock and its surroundings has become an almost mythical place for me–it’s where I spent the first 27 years of my life so I’ve stored up thousands of memories and observations, good and bad; heartbreaking and heartwarming; wonderful and scary. This paragraph from that piece I wrote about Lubbock last year is probably the genesis for it all:

Trying to explain the clash of cultures against the backdrop of such a seemingly barren canvas to those not familiar with the South Plains is difficult to do. The city’s traditional foundation is weakened from a constant barrage of sledgehammer swings from talented natives that the city would love to claim as its own. But that’s what makes it so interesting–the underlying tension that few can see and understand is always there, simmering. You’ll never feel safer than when you’re in Lubbock, but you can also hear the devils whispering in the wind if you listen closely enough.

Anyway, I just hope people find it worthwhile.

As for the game, I’m with you. I think Tech finds a way to win in the late night desert. Pat Mahomes is going to be too much to overcome for a lot of teams this year, and I think that will be the case with ASU.


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