1. Not a Great Start. Oh, man when the game first started with a few three and outs and the offense looked incredibly stagnant and lost again. Justin Stockton got the start and he was okay, but there were too many times that he just couldn’t break free. Mahomes looked like he hadn’t figured it out and before you could finish your fist beer, it seemed like Texas Tech was down 14-0 and I thought for sure that these Ten Things would be the most fun and awesome Ten Things you’ve ever read. But Patrick Mahomes and Kliff Kingsbury did some fun things. Rather than continue to force the ball over the middle of the field where the wide receivers have been absolutely amazing all year, Kingsbury inserted Demarcus Felton and started to go outside to Dylan Cantrell and Derrick Willies.
2. Opening Things Up. I wasn’t sure if and when Texas Tech was going to figure things out offensively. While Oklahoma State is throwing down touchdowns, Texas Tech was throwing out puts, but something happened. The offense really did a terrific job of figuring things out and you somewhat have to hope that this will last for some time. Mahomes was throwing screens and slants to the outside while mixing in Felton to the tune of over 70 yards in the first half. For what seemed like a long time, the offense did a terrific job of mixing in both the inside and outside receivers. It looked normal and the thing that we’re used to seeing. Mahomes looked terrific and he was really spreading the ball around, complete with some screens with the receivers and things start clicking. In fact, 11 players caught a pass on Saturday and Texas Tech had 159 yards rushing with only 33 of that by Mahomes. Losing Felton greatly affected the offense in the second half, and it was certainly throwing Oklahoma State off balance.
I mentioned on the Twitter that as much as I like Justin Stockton, he’s just not equipped to be at running back and as someone replied back to me, it’s that he stops his feet when he’s hit and that’s as good as an explanation as I’ve heard. there are times that he’s sorta driving, but that first hit sorta freezes him to an extent.
3. Hate it for Hatfield. The ever so slight video after the extra point was revealed showed that Cameron Batson slightly moved the ball right as Hatfield was about to kick. Hatfield has had his own issues, he missed an extra point last week by kicking a ball too low, so him missing an extra point isn’t some rare bird that never happens. Still, the expectation is that he makes it. He didn’t. Whatever you do, leave them alone.
“I just told him, ‘I’m proud of the way that he has kicked the last two years.’ He’s hit a bunch of big-time kicks for us and he’ll do it again. He just has to move on to the next one and he’ll have an opportunity the next two games to help us win.”
4. Going for Two. Whatever I type, no one is wrong about going for two or attempting the field goal to play for overtime. This is one of those endless discussions where a difference of opinion is just that, a difference of opinion and no one is wrong. The thought of going for two was mentioned during the broadcast and to be truthful, I actually thought about how this was a similar situation against TCU, where Kingsbury had the chance to steal one on the road in Ft. Worth by going for two to walk away with the win, but he chose to kick the extra point and live for overtime.
My own personal theory on going to overtime for Kingsbury is that he thinks his ability to dial up a touchdown whenever and wherever within 25 yards is unmatched. It’s his moxie. His bravado. And I don’t think he’s wrong about that, but it was obviously a risk in itself to kick the extra point.
5. So Many Opportunities. Kingsbury mentioned after the game that there were more opportunities than just the Hatfield missed extra point, but the biggest one was the Quinton White fumble as Michael Barden recovered his own onside kick.
*(This is the ultimate Talbot sentence, just waiting to happen and was done on my part for comedic effect.)
Texas Tech was down with 7 with over 9 minutes remaining in the game and even though Oklahoma State had run roughshod over the Texas Tech defense, given the opportunity, it would have created a situation where there would hae been more time and more opportunity to keep pace. the defense, I think ended up stopping Oklahoma State on that drive, but the problem is that it allowed OSU to take 2:35 off the clock. I’d give anything to have just a bit more time in that game.
6. Expectations for the Defense. It’s funny how our expectations of the defense has changed over the course of years. There was a time where the expectation was to be good (this was a long time ago, probably before a lot of you were following Texas Tech football, but it really happened). Then there was this expectation to just be mediocre. A time to not be terrible. And an expectation to not be one of the worst in the nation. That’s somewhat where we’re at right now, of the 13 total drives by Oklahoma State, they had to either punt or turned the ball over 4 times. We’ve gotten to the point that those four extra opportunities should be enough for the offense to be be just that much better and that’s not exactly how it works. The offense gained a total of 21 yards in their first three drives to only then go on to score touchdowns in their next four drives going into halftime tied with Oklahoma State. Without a viable Felton, the offense took some time to adjust because to open the second half, the offense stalled again, before Mahomes could lead a 75 yard and fantastic drive to be down by 7 leading up to the Quinton White fumble.
I’m not here to really complain about the defense. I realize what’s happening here with the young players, but the defense did give up 605 yards to Oklahoma State, including allowing 210 rushing yards to a team that had trouble rushing the ball and 395 yards to Rudolph, one of those being a 0:06 drive that went for 82 yards.
My point here is that just forcing a few punts isn’t enough for me. Oh, and I’ve been on that side of things where I’ve said, hey, if the defense can just get the ball back a few times and I’m done with that mess. I don’t mean that the defense has to stop anyone this year because I’m realistic and I know how these things work, but I am talking about giving up 600 yards a game but getting a few punts or a turnover there or here isn’t going to cut it for me. It’s got to get better.
7. All the Trick Plays. I’m probably going to miss a few, but Kingsbury’s ability to pull a play out of a hat and for it to work is somewhat amazing. And he pulled out all of the stops (I’m sure he has more) against Oklahoma State.
* The Travis Bruffy touchdown catch at the end of the first half.
* The onside kick from Barton.
* The fake punt resulting in a pass from Barton to Talor Nunez for a 15 yard gain was a thing of beauty.
* The sweep with Quinton White for the short touchdown wasn’t a trick play, but it was a lot different than the 4th and 1 that we’ve previously seen.
I’ve probably forgotten one or two, but Kingsbury was playing to win this son of a gun.
8. Mahomes Figures It Out (Sorta). I’m not going to make any argument that Mahomes was perfect, but hopefully regardless if you’re Team Mahomes of Team Shimonek, that after the first three drives, Mahomes looked like his normal self. And to be honest, I think at least two of those first drives were not his fault. He hit Ian Sadler in the hands on third down that would have resulted in a first down and I think he was sacked (which I guess you can blame on him if you want) in the second drive.
Still, Mahomes was 35 of 51 on the day for 344 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks. I felt like there were some critical drops other than the one drop mentioned above. The normally reliable Jonathan Giles had two critical drops as did Dylan Cantrell. That’s four completions right there.
And in prior weeks, Mahomes missed plenty of passes on his own, but the receivers didn’t have their best day by a mile, they could have been much better. To give credit, I loved the play of Derrick Willies and I can’t wait for the senior years of Cantrell-Willies bookmarking those ends while hopefully mixing in Quan Shorts, Tony Brown, Antoine Cox-Wesley and T.J. Vasher.
9. It’s Amazing What a Running Back Can Do. So what we saw from Demarcus Felton in the first half is what I thought he’d be this year. Da’Leon Ward didn’t travel with the team, apparently some sort of foot issue kept him home, which meant that Texas Tech started out with Stockton at running back. When the first three drives fizzled, Felton came in and breathed some terrific new life into the offense. He was incredibly quick and accurate to the right hole, gaining 77 yards in just 10 carries. If given my druthers, I’d rather have Felton over Ward and that’s no knock on Ward, but if that’s the Felton we get and his ankle is okay, then that’s what I think would cause significant issues for either Baylor or Iowa State. I doubt that Felton’s ankle is going to magically heal in that time and so depending on what happens, we may see more of Quinton White, and I think the fumble issue isn’t a one-off sort of deal and this may be why he doesn’t play more, or could Kingsbury be ready to give the ball to a guy like Caleb Woodward. Yeah, he’s a former high school quarterback that plays a ton of special teams I’m guessing that there’s a reason why he hasn’t played either, but it may be time to figure this out because there aren’t any other running backs left after Woodward.
10.a. Feeling Terrible. I know that I should feel terrible, but I don’t. Kingsbury was asked after the game about the loss:
“They fought. Since that West Virginia game, when we called them out for playing so poorly and without any passion, we asked them to fight, and they fought. We just have to finish those games. It didn’t come down to that kick, we should have had a lead and found a way to win. It’s just one of those things that happens.”
The team is fighting and hasn’t given up in the least. Close losses to Texas and Oklahoma State have left me feeling okay. It probably shouldn’t make me feel that way, but the way that Baylor may be reeling a bit, the Seth Russell injury (although this could mean that Baylor just runs the heck out of the ball and that concerns me, but we’ll cross that bridge starting on Monday). I don’t know how much fight Baylor has left and we’ll find out soon enough. I’m not doubting them, but I am questioning, especially after two blowout losses to TCU (can’t explain) and Oklahoma (can understand).
You can hear it in Dylan Cantrell’s voice in the video at the top that they don’t want the season to end. Neither do it.
10.b. Other Notable Notes.
- Texas Tech was 7 for 7 in red zone attempts with just 1 field goal.
- There was one very costly penalty, the Terence Steele down the field (and that was legitimate) but as a team, they only had 3 penalties for 15 yards and you can live with that. And of all things, Oklahoma State was pretty sloppy with penalties and that resulted in 5 first downs.
- Justis Nelson really has done more than he ever should have as a high 2-star or low 3-star recruit. You get him in open space trying to cover someone elite like James Washington and he doesn’t have a chance, but in the right situation, he can knock down a pass or two. The thing is that there’s not any other cornerbacks that can really play and that’s where you’re at with the pass defense.
- I think the defense played just a bit better with Luke Stice filling in for Jordyn Brooks rather than Brayden Stringer. I hope whatever ails Brooks isn’t long-term because Texas Tech could sure use him against Iowa State and Baylor.
- I can only think about what would have happened with this game had Jah’Shawn Johnson could have held onto that interception.
- Even though the offensive line didn’t have Justin Murphy, I thought they played well. Not perfect and only gave up 2 sacks, but I thought they played well against a very good Oklahoma defensive line.