seth: Hey, this should be fun! It’s this week’s version of Chit Chat, but previously, we’ve been assigning 100 points of credit and now, with a loss, we get to assign 100 points of blame. This will be a bit tricky because these are players still in college, not professionals (in the NCAA sense) so we’ll try to keep it as professional as possible. Who wants to go first!?
spencer: I’ll start us off and throw a massive 50 points of blame on the offensive line as a whole. They couldn’t pass protect reliably, especially when it counted, and couldn’t create running space for any of the backs. Oklahoma State was able to get pressure with 3 linemen and drop 8 into coverage. When you drop 8, you can essentially double cover the 3 best receivers and go single man on the 4th and 5th receivers. You need to be able to keep the defense honest and when the commit 8 to coverage, they don’t honor your running game.
When Coutee went out with his injury, no one stepped up to fill that void. 20 points of blame each on Willies and Batson. They both dropped sure touchdowns in a game where the offense was struggling. They also were not targets from Shimonek when the game mattered most, which to me signaled a loss of confidence in them.
I hesitate to give these last 10 points of blame to Kingsbury for his play calling, but that’s where I’m going. I actually understand his sticking with the run game to see if Stockton could break one (like last week), but at some point you have to go with what works and last night it was Cantrell. In the most crucial moments of the game, Cantrell was not a target and that’s a problem.
brian: At the risk of sounding hackneyed, I still have to say I feel more confidence in the rest of the season coming out of that loss than I have previously. This was a test against a team that’s definitely better than 15 in the nation and we stuck around to the very end. Things looked like they were going to get out of hand early but that huge defensive pick 6 really got us going.
That said, I’m going to give 15 points to another slow offensive start. We can’t keep doing that in big games. I’m also going to give 40 to the offensive line unit. They couldn’t get a single foothold to give the running game a chance, and the pass protection last night was awful. While I’m thinking of it, I want to give another 15 points to goal line execution, and 5 points to that Shim pick.
Defensively, I’m going to give 15 points to our coverage over the middle. The Pokes did a great job of moving our linebackers and exposing us, which I’m guessing we’ll see a lot more of. Another thing we’ll see, which gets the last 10 points, is our defense against a QB zone read. To my memory, OSU ran it twice with Rudolph and both times he went untouched into the endzone from at least 15 yards out. All I could think about was how much Kansas State will run that.
seth: I’ve been dreading the Chit Chat after a loss, but here we are and I’m finding it difficult to place a ton of fault because, like I wrote after the game, I thought that OSU was better, not by much, but better, and I do think that Kingsbury is closing the gap.
Nevertheless, I’ll start with the defense, which I think needs a tuneup and not an overhaul. I’ll split up the defense with 30 points. As Brian mentioned, the defensive ends got caught going down the line of scrimmage instead of staying at home and covering Rudolph. That was a pretty good play call to do that. The safeties received a rude awakening when a team can both run and pass the ball. Life is a lot more difficult when teams are multi-faceted. And despite the defensive line and linebackers playing well thus far, I think they played against a team that knew that they would run the ball well and they need to be better about tackling on the spot and not allowing those extra yards. It seemed like there were a few too many yards after the initial hit.
I think the offensive line needs to take the biggest chunk of the blame here, I’m debating between 40 and 50 points and will settle for 45. That’s a huge chunk, but they haven’t been good running the ball and moving bodies for two weeks. Houston has terrific athletes and Oklahoma State was seemingly in on a few of those runs, maybe something is being telegraphed. Before the OSU game, Texas Tech was 82nd in passing downs sack rate and that’s not going to be good enough with Shimonek at quarterback.
The running backs deserve some blame too, 10 points worth, and I wonder if Tre King has his carries increase because right now, Justin Stockton can break a huge chunk, but he’s just not getting those 4-6 yard gains on a regular basis. I’d also add that if Nisby learned the playbook, he might get more reps too, but Texas Tech can’t be one-dimensional when he gets in the game.
This leaves me with 15 points to hand out, and I’ll give 5 to Shimonek. I think he knows he has to be better than he was on Saturday and he knows it.
I’ll give 5 points to the receivers. Too many important dropped passes.
And the last 5 goes to Kolin Hill and Dominic Panazzolo for getting that punt blocked. Can’t afford to let that happen again.
michael: Gentlemen, for the most part, I think you all have covered it. The offensive line offered little protection and no room to run. This affected Kingsbury’s play-calling in the red zone, forcing him to pass when Tech only needed 4 or 6 yards. I criticized his play-calling here at the time, but I don’t think he had much choice based on what the o-line was giving him. You get 7 instead of 3 in those instances and the game goes a different way. So, I do think 50 points for the o-line is appropriate.
Despite giving Tech enough opportunities to win the game, the defense gets 20 points for allowing 221 rushing yards including 164 to Hill and 50 to Rudolph. Rudolph only had 61 rushing yards last season and has 60 this season thanks to this game. Time and time again, we’ve seen this from Tech. Like Brian said, the Kansas State game won’t be any fun if Ertz rushes for 100. And, not to nit-pick, but we can’t expect every kicker to be 50-50 from 20+ yards. Tech was fortunate in that aspect. Normally, that’s an easy 6 more points on the board despite #collegekickers.
The receivers get 20 for drops, including two crucial drops in the end zone. I do think a defender got a hand on the ball on one of those, but in a game that close against a good team, there aren’t many opportunities for error.
That leaves me with 10 points. I’ll give 5 to Shim for the lobbed up pick right after an onside kick recovery, which was a total momentum killer. The final five points go to Kingsbury for the back-to-back Illegal Motion and Illegal Formation penalties in the red zone at the end of the 1st quarter, which were 2 of only 6 penalties. What the heck was that? Luckily, Tech got bailed out on a DPI penalty on 3rd and 8 and eventually hit Cantrell for a TD. (edited)
seth: Quick late Tuesday night question? Would you guys make any lineup changes or are you happy with who is out there?
spencer: I think offensively, the only changes I would consider would be some shakeup along the offensive line. And maybe do a quicker rotation between the RBs (but that’s dependent on them knowing the playbook).
Defensively, I’m pretty content with what’s out there generally with the exception of DJPB. He’s a liability in coverage to commit a penalty.
brian: I can’t think of any off the top of my head. The only thing I can think of is putting in some more packages with Donta Thompson at TE. If we want to work that position in, let’s get him some experience and see what sticks
seth: I was wondering if we’d see Dylan Cantrell start at inside receiver and then let Vasher play on the outside. My thinking was would I rather have Wesley and Cantrell or Cantrell and Vasher and I went with the latter.