1. That Was Satisfying for All of the Right Reasons. I am sure that you all feel the same way about Baylor that I feel, which is that there was no other team really circled on my calendar that I’ve wanted Texas Tech to beat for a long time other than Baylor. The smugness and self-righteousness while in the midst of victims of football gang rapes settle their cases (yes, gang rapes by players on the football team). This was a Baylor team that was down to it’s true freshman starting quarterback and not one time did I feel sorry for Baylor in any way shape or form. So, this was cathartic for me as much as anything. I know that a loss to Texas Tech is meaningless to most Baylor fans and that’s fine. This is about me and you guys than anything else. This was fun:
2. What Should Have Been. Man, that offense was pretty spectacular. Patrick Mahomes looked like he did the first third of the season, dropping bombs on dimes, throwing 30 for 46 for 586 yards, 6 touchdowns, no interceptions (there was one close pass that I can remember) and that’s Mahomes’ potential. That’s a pretty impressive potential, throwing over 12.7 yards per pass, something that I don’t think that Mahomes has done in quite a while. I don’t know if this was more about the personnel that Kingsbury threw out there, but maybe a change in the personnel helped open the middle up. Not only that, but I thought that Mahomes and the inside receivers were going to the next level, past the settling linebackers and having that option, where Mahomes could drop passes there over the middle of the field was maybe the most significant change than the past few games.
As for Mahomes NFL decision, Kingsbury said that this process would start today as they submit his name for a draft grade, discuss with is parents and do the best thing for him as a person and a player.
I know what I’d like to tell him. But we’re going to get the grade back. We’ll submit that tomorrow, get the grade back, talk with his parents through the entire process and just figure out what’s best for him. If, you know, the money is right and he needs to go and do that; but, if it’s not, if there’s some way we can improve and improve his skill set and his talent, then he’ll come back and we’ll do it again. So we’re going to have a thorough process and do what’s best for Pat.
3. Where Has That Defense Been? Still gave up over 600 yard? Check. Gave up 250 yards rushing? Check. Gave up 370 passing yards to a true freshman? Check.
Forced four turnovers? Oh, hell yes. This one game pulls Texas Tech to -4 in the turnover margin for the year. The funny thing about the turnovers is that I didn’t think that any of them were especially hard hits, but Baylor coughed up the ball. It’s something that happens to other teams all of the time, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen to Texas Tech this year nearly enough.
What I do hope is that this year forced defensive coordinator David Gibbs to greatly scrutinize his plan moving forward, predicating the success of a defense on turnovers. Because when that trick doesn’t work there’s nothing left to rest that defense on, some sort of schematic advantage. Turnovers are great and it’s also great to emphasize how important they are, but the lone reason why the defense was better last year compared to this year was just the turnovers. When you don’t get the same number as last year then your team goes 5-7 on the year rather than 7-5. If I had to pick one thing that would have turned the record towards a winning record, it was lack of turnovers.
But back to my original point, that defense was really good and I felt like I had just as many “jump off my couch” moments with the defense that I did with the offense. Jordyn Brooks, Luke Stice and Malik Jenkins all had outstanding games. Brooks is the truth and the future, registering 18 tackles and forcing one of those fumbles. Stice was on a tear too, registering 15 tackles on the day.
Jah’Shawn Johnson is the embodiment of the Texas Tech defense, way too undersized to be playing safety, but without better options, he’s the guy and he absolutely filled up the stat line, 10 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble.
4. Receivers Run Free. I was pretty well impressed with how the receivers were able to just run free on Baylor’s defense, which statistically wasn’t terrible, but they sure did a number on the Bear secondary. I really do hope that this is the Dylan Cantrell that we get to see next year for his senior year because he can be dominant on the outside and I think the coaches made the right decision moving him outside. He’s a problem for opposing defenders.
Keke Coutee was a man on a mission, hauling in 8 passes for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. He really couldn’t be stopped and Jonathan Giles somewhat returned to his early season form as he caught 4 passes for 82 yards, 62 of that coming on a touchdown.
We haven’t really been able to watch Quan Shorts much this year, when we have, it’s been inconsistent, but he had 1 target and he caught a bomb for 81 yards and a touchdown. I thought that physically Shorts was going to be a specimen for the wide receivers and if he can catch the ball, that’s going to just help this offense.
The downside of the offense was Antoine Cox-Wesley, who received two red zone targets in the end zone and physically, he’s just not there yet. Derrick Willies apparently sat out the entire game, despite being suited up, with a coach’s decision (yet another example of Kingsbury holding players out despite the possible result of losing this game). With Wesley, he has some tremendous physical tools, but he’s not there yet.
5. Turnover on Downs. The key, which really started up front, was how Texas Tech was actually able to stop 4th downs on a few occasions, which required the defense to stop Baylor on third downs too. Baylor only converted 5 of 17 third downs and I was shocked to learn that Baylor tried 9 fourth down attempts, only converting 4 of them. Baylor, for whatever reason, felt that they needed to push the envelope rather than trusting their defense, and those 5 turnover on downs were just as significant as the other turnovers. The sixth drive of the game where Baylor got the ball on downs at the Texas Tech 10 was a 4 play drive for 6 yards that turned the ball over on the Texas Tech 12 yard line. It seemed like any other game, that would have resulted in 6 points.
The very next drive, Baylor sent for it again after driving 55 yards, they can’t get the first. Of the first seven drives by Baylor, they scored 1 touchdown, lost 1 to a fumble, lost three by downs and scored 1 field goal.
6. The Future on Defense. I’ll miss players, but I do think there’s a solid group of guys there on defense and they had to play because there were no other options, especially as the season and this game in particular rolled on. I think that guys like Kevin Moore, Desmon Smith, Jordyn Brooks and Douglas Coleman, along with the hopeful development of guys like Broderick Washington, Lonzell Gilmore, Joe Wallace and Kolin Hill will make a significant impact next year. I’m already thinking about how good this group of linebackers could be if Dakota Allen is added back to the fold. We can somewhat dream about what the redshirt guys can do and the impact that they might make, but the real impact of the core group of freshman, Coleman, Brooks and Smith (and to a lesser extent Moore, who played a ton on special teams) is significant and real. Those guys can play and I think they can play very well next year.
7. The Bad. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way in one thing. You maybe missed the 15 penalties for 107 yards because Texas Tech won, but there were some real tough penalties to overcome, one of which ended up taking a touchdown off the board (a Tony Brown resulted in a Da’Leon Ward touchdown called back). The one huge play that I thought was going to be a sign of things to come, the huge pass given up by Justis Nelson was a kick in the crotch.
The offensive line still looks like a work in progress and I really couldn’t tell you who played at what position and to what degree of success any of these players had because it still seemed like that Mahomes was under pressure for a good part of the game. Mahomes handled it well, but there’s some real work to be done here in the offseason. And I do expect guys like Terence Steele, Madison Akamnonu to get better too.
The second half scoring drought isn’t something that bothered me all that much because when you put up 54 points, that’s really good and you really shouldn’t need more than that. Texas Tech scored on their first three drives, then a punt and a turnover on downs, with three more touchdown drives and a second half that only resulted in one additional touchdown and two field goals.
Clayton Hatfield missed another extra point to the right and maybe, just maybe, Cameron Batson is onto something about how Hatfield misses field goals.
8. Moving Forward. After the game, Kingsbury said that within the next few days, we’ll know a bit more about what happens with his coaching staff:
Yeah, I truly don’t know. That’s going to we’ll have a conversation about all of that stuff either tomorrow or the next day, I’m sure, and figure out which way it’s going to go. I’ll just keep, you know, any of that stuff to myself at this point. You’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure, about what’s going on.
If I had to guess, I think that the entire coaching staff would return on one-year deals (all of the assistant coaches normally run on one-year deals so that’s not anything new), including Gibbs. Yeah, I think Gibbs is back as well as the entire defensive staff, unless one of them leaves for a different job. Like it or not, Kingsbury is intertwined with Gibbs at this point and they are both on this ship together. That’s just my guess, but I’d bet this is the group you see back next year.
9. Hance. Briles. A Hypothetical Mess. So I don’t know what to believe and I don’t know that I care. In today’s world, if there isn’t a photograph of of Art Briles in Lubbock then I’m not going to believe it. He’s not that careful and he likes having his name out there. I have no idea as to Hance’s involvement and I don’t know how much involvement he truly has at this point of his career. I have been told by a couple of people that the buyout money had been raised if that was the decision that was going to be made. I don’t really have a handle on whether or not this is accurate. But I think this Baylor game had a lot to do with Kingsbury’s future. If the team didn’t show up at all, then I think the writing was on the wall about how the team felt and cared about Kingsbury. Had the players given up on Kingsbury then I think that whoever was in charge was going to make a change, but that’s conjecture as well. If anything, I think today’s game was an indication of the direction of the team. And I also think that the people in charge needed some positivity heading into the offseason. As to the inclusion of Briles into the equation, I’d like to think that the morality of those who make decisions would preclude them from ever even considering that call and these internet rumors tend to get the best of everyone. I do know that Briles loves Lubbock, despite whatever your feelings are on what he did. He does have a very real connection with Lubbock and Texas Tech and I think he cares about this place greatly. I’m sure he’s become more reminiscent as the months have gone on.
10. Kingsbury’s Future.
Yeah, I mean, that’s why I came here. You know, I don’t have a family. I don’t have a lot of friends out there in Lubbock. And that’s all I do, is work on this football team and this program and try to build something special. And excited about the direction it’s going. We have 18 or 19 starters coming back and 12 mid year signees, and a lot of guys there in the spring that we can continue to work with and continue to build on. So yeah. That’s why I’m here.
To get one more perspective on Kingsbury’s future, his biggest issue in potentially letting Kingsbury go is that he’s one of our own and the last thing he wants to see is Kingsbury succeed somewhere else, which he would almost assuredly do, at least from an offensive coordinator standpoint. The last thing you want to do is give up on one of your own too early. Perhaps foolish, it is the double-edged sword of hiring one of your own. The hope that the loyalty that is shown him at this time is shown when and if this thing takes off.
But that quote up there maybe sums up where he is in looking forward. No friends to speak of. No family living in Lubbock. That’s all he does.
And as an aside, I had no idea there are 12 mid-term enrollees, but 12 guys is a ton and returning 19 starters is significant. I think Kingsbury knows he’s got one shot in 2017 to show what he can do. Teams across Texas are in relative turmoil, Texas Tech included. Baylor, possibly SMU, Texas, Houston and maybe Texas A&M could all be involved in a coaching search (I very much doubt TAMU is, but just throwing it out there).
He wants to win for the exact same reason you want to win, which is something very few programs get to say.
Yeah, I don’t know about pressure, I just hate losing and I feel bad about when Texas Tech doesn’t win because it means a lot to me. I know it means a lot to our fan base and our student body and our alumni, and when you’re part of that, you wear it. And so yeah, more than anything, that’s what I feel. I try not to focus on the pressure; you try to focus on each game and making sure you’re doing right by the players and putting them in position to win the game.