Ten Things: Oklahoma State 41, Texas Tech 34

2,000 words on Texas Tech’s loss to Oklahoma State.

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Ten Things

1. Not Satisfied With the Result, But I’m Good with the Process. I hate the world “process” because it’s been overused but I wasn’t what word to use to say that I’m pleased with this team sitting at 3-1 on the year and an incredibly close loss Oklahoma State. I thought this game could flip one way or the other and I think that was about right. I’m still in that optimistic stage, a stage that I’ll stay in for as long as humanly possible in given season (it always comes back during the spring regardless as to how I feel in the fall at the end of the year).

Sometimes reading Twitter after a game is incredibly brutal because of all of the hot taeks about ho this team sucks and all of those things and I don’t think that this team sucks, I just think that Texas Tech played a better team on Saturday night. I thought that before the game was played and it turned out to be accurate. That’s not an indictment on this team.

Make no mistake, I thought this team could win and they were close to doing so. I’m not at all happy about that, but this team didn’t get it’s ass kicked either.

I mean, we lost. So it doesn’t feel good at all. Whether we lost by a point or 40, we lost the game. So not here to compete with people; we’re here to win football games.
–Nic Shimonek

2. That’s a Normal Loss. We could certainly sit here and say that the offense didn’t play good enough. There’s this expectation that the offense should score a touchdown on every possession and you’re certainly entitled to that opinion. There’s no doubt that the offense should have played better, only 384 total yards of offense for the entire game. But this as a pretty normal game, a game where the offense did some good/bad things and the defense did good/bad things. The defense allowed a touchdown to lose the game and the offense couldn’t score to tie it up, those are obviously faults.

I’m so conditioned to perfection on offense and an absolute disaster on defense that anything in between those two markers is either a complete failure of a modicum of success. For me, I’m proud of the way that this team played. I’m not so jaded by the success of three wins that I’m expecting to be what has been a perennial top 15 to 20 team over the past 3 or 4 years. The unevenness of the actual play of the game is problematic, but Oklahoma State won that game up front on both sides of the ball. We knew at the beginning of the year that this team’s biggest weakness would the offensive line and the running game and that was pretty evident last night. The offensive line couldn’t get on any defensive linemen to create space for any running backs. 26 carries for 54 yards for the offense overall and that’s simply unacceptable.

But when this team was don 34-20, I was almost all but certain that this team had just about had it. Keke Coutee was out with some sort of knee / quad / hamstring injury and that is the most dynamic part of your offense.

3. Missed Opportunities. It seems like this game was a game of those missed opportunities. Having to settle for three field goals with the ball inside the 5 yard line is simply not going to cut it. The two field goals to start the second half and the field goal to end the half. I’d guess that some of you are upset for not going for it on 4th down on each of those times. The problem that Kingsbury faced was that there was an offensive line that simply couldn’t move people and as Kingsbury said after the game that was simply not acceptable in terms of how the line played.

The interception after the onside kick recovery was atypical Nic Shimonek and it was a horrible pass and I’d guess that Shimonek would readily admit that. Or how about the two dropped touchdowns, or nearly dropped touchdowns. You could make the case that Derrick Willies should have had one and Cameron Batson should have had another. Convert those plays and maybe Shimonek doesn’t have to reach to make that pass.

4. Offensive Stuff. This is going to be a mixed bag of things because the offense, overall, was very much a mixed bag. We’ve talked about the offensive line and how they struggled pretty much entire game. They’ve got to do a better job of simply putting a helmet on the other man. I didn’t think that a single offensive linemen stood out as playing particularly well, but even if one of them did, the other four would need to play better for there to be marginal success.

Shimonek averaged 7.2 yards per attempt on 29 of 46 for the night for 330 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Again, I thought there were a couple of passes where I thought that his receivers could have helped him out, but they, both he and the receivers just didn’t make the plays. That’s probably going to be a recurring theme.

Justin Stockton really does run hard, but when he doesn’t break one open the total yardage doesn’t look good. And truthfully, this as his second game in a row where if you were to take away the big play in Houston, the rushing totals don’t look all that great. The problem for Texas Tech right now is that the other players simply don’t know the plays as well as Stockton does. I think there was a point last week where Desmond Nisby was ordered off the field by Shimonek because Nisby didn’t know what he was diong. If you are clamoring for more Nisby and more Tre King, then I think they need to get their heads in the playbook and know exactly what they are doing.

I thought Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson had good games, while Coutee never got on track before he was injured and Derrick Willies runs hot and cold. Willies can look like an All-American, but he’s got to start “making” plays on his own. Oklahoma State cornerbacks were bumping those receivers, something that happened a few years ago and the offense looked terrible as a result. I don’t think that most teams have the personnel to do that.

However, I do worry about the adding in Antoine Wesley as an inside receiver and not adding a quicker player. I’d imagine that Wesley is likely to get the start, but without a quicker player on the field to break some things open, I’m just not sure. You’d think that guys like De’Quan Bowman and Jojo Robinson along with Ja’Deion High will get the opportunity to make some plays. Or could we see Xavier Martin make his first big-time appearance.

5. Defensive Stuff. the defense gave up nearly 600 yards of offense, but Oklahoma State scored a touchdown on five of those twelve drives, made two field goals and missed two as well to go along with the interception return for a touchdown.

And maybe that’s where we start. Demarcus Fields absolutely belongs on the field. He can play. He’s not perfect, he’ll get turned around at times, but he’s got the speed to play. I also still really like Octavious Morgan and Jaylon Lane at cornerback, while it seems as if D.J. Polite-Bray struggles to not have a penalty called against him pretty much no matter what happens.

The biggest difference between this game and prior games is that the defense was able to make just one big play. There were lots of stops in key moments, but the big moments that helped this team win the first three games just wasn’t there. And that’s the thing about relying on turnovers to in games, is that some offensive teams are less likely to turn the ball over than others and Rudolph seemed to get that out of his system last week.

I still like the depth of this team. Vaughnte Dorsey is a bullet and when he can play, he’ll cover some ground and make some plays. I thought the front seven played okay at times. We’ve said it for the first three games, but these guys are legitimate Big 12 players and I don’t know that we had many of those the past two years.

6. A Positive. Nic Shimonek after the game.

Yeah, you know, I guess if there is a positive to take from this, it was that you could tell in the locker room after the game that it really hurt everybody.

Last year, it was kind of — we lost, we just lost the game. You could tell that everybody in that locker room expects to win. And obviously whenever we don’t, like tonight, you can just see the passion. So, yeah, hopefully we don’t have too many of these.
–Nic Shimonek

7. Kingsbury Quotes.

Kingsbury on the offensive line.

Yeah, they pretty much dominated the game up front. We had to kick a couple of field goals inside the three. We couldn’t move them. So you’ve got to give them credit.

But I was not very pleased with our run game and really our protection either. So we’ll have to see what we can do better. They played a bunch of that three double cloud stuff and took away some quick throws. But I didn’t think we ran the ball very well and I don’t think we protected very well.
–Kliff Kingsbury

Kingsbury on playing better, but not good enough.

We fought, played hard. Didn’t play good enough. That’s a good football team. They’ve got a lot of talented players and they got after us and made the plays there at the end when they had to. We had the ball with a chance to go win it and didn’t get it done and they did. I thought we fought hard but we gotta play better.
–Kliff Kingsbury

Kingsbury on finding out what this team is made of.

Yeah, we’ll find out. Last year we didn’t handle losses well at all. So we’ll find out this week what we’re made of. Last year when we came out with a couple disappointing losses the next week we had some bad let-downs. And so I like this team’s mentality. I have so far.

And I expect them to fight back and get better this week. So we’ll find out this week what we’re made of really.
–Kliff Kingsbury

8. Stat Stuff. Last year, Texas Tech was lights out on third downs and this team has come back down to earth. This was to be expected because Patrick Mahomes was simply magic when it came to turning long third downs into first downs. Texas Tech converted 42%, which is fine by itself, but the problem is that this team couldn’t convert any of the third and longs (9+ yards). Texas Tech would convert half of them last year. Part of that is just not putting yourself in bad spots.

Defensively, those third dons were also problematic, but on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. OSU converted 55% of their third downs and their average third down distance was only 3.8 yards per third don compared to 5.8 for Texas Tech. That’s a pretty significant difference.

9. Special Teams Stuff. Dominc Panazzolo has been good, but he just can’t afford to let that punt et blocked. That’s the whole reason he’s here and you could maybe blame the guys blocking, but ultimately, he knows he has to be better in terms of getting the punt off without issue. Alternatively, the onside kick was terrific, but the problem was the Shimonek interception.

10. This Team is Going to Be Okay. After losses last year, I was pretty certain that we knew what we had, which was a team with an offense that was nearly automatic, but a defense that couldn’t stop anything. It’s probably fool-hearted for me to think that much has changed, but I think against different teams, Texas Tech will be okay. This team has on a close one against Arizona State on a final drive and then dropped one. The difference is that the defense for the opponent was just that much better this week. My confidence hasn’t wavered because I thought this would be the ultimate outcome, a disappointing loss to a team that was better.

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