Ed. Note: Sorry for the delay. I know this isn’t what you expect of me, but I’ve been sick since Monday and it finally hit me last night where I couldn’t get 5 hours of sleep in order to get out content. Slept for 7.5 hours and woke up NOT at 3:00 because I couldn’t breathe and was coughing. I’m feeling much better.
1. I Can’t Blame You If You Do/Don’t. What else is there to say about perpetually being on the edge of doing something more than just 7-5 (or worse) each year. The tough thing is that nobody is wrong about where this team is at. I can’t blame you if you think that you’ve had it and you just don’t want to see mediocre any more. That you’re tired of 7-5 (potentially) year after year and that although there may be improvement, there aren’t enough results on the scoreboard and in terms of wins and losses.
I also understand if you think that you like the trajectory of the program and that you can see the improvement and if we Kingsbury just one more year, the stars will align, he’ll have a whole room of quarterbacks who have seen snaps at the Big 12 level (presuming none of them transfer) and although there will be some losses at the offensive line and at running back, there’s a ton returning in terms of the skill positions. You can make the argument that 2018 will be the year for Kingsbury.
The problem with this is that neither one of your are wrong in your thinking. Both have their own pros and cons and there’s no guarantee that with a new coach things will improve. The question is if this treadmill ever stops and you get off and you’ve actually improved? I don’t know how to judge that.
During the offseason, I don’t know what direction Hocutt will go. I do know that he’s got incredibly fierce loyalty to Kingsbury and he earnestly believes that Kingsbury is the right kind of coach doing the right kind of things for this program. Without a doubt, the little things, like player discipline and managing the room have increase exponentially, but I don’t know if that’s enough. And there are two more games that will help him make his decision, both games Texas Tech will be favored and both games are and should be very winnable.
2. The Critical Plays. I am almost certain that had Duffey not turned the ball over three times, that Texas Tech would have won that game handily. I don’t think that Texas was really stopping Duffey and the offense and in my opinion, those weren’t necessarily Texas being great, but more of Duffey being careless. The interception inside the 10 yard line or whatever it was. Duffey’s fumble down 24-10 to open the second half and then a second fumble to lose the ball again on the very next drive.
And let’s add in the face mask by Desmon Smith on 3rd and 33. I hate saying bad things about players, but he’s been on the bad end of way too many penalties and bad plays for me and it’s incredibly frustrating that he still gets time out there. I get that he’s a junior, but the bad plays to good plays ratio has to not be in his favor. I think this eventually gave UT a touchdown, but I can’t remember for sure.
The 4th and 1 to give the ball back to Texas with a short field to essentially end the half, which led to a touchdown. Of all the plays that Kingsbury has in his bag of tricks, he chooses the least predictable and least inventive play possible to take advantage of what Duffey can do. And the line didn’t exactly light the world on fire and get a great push, but that’s bad play calling.
The field goal to end the half with 12 seconds remaining, time enough to run one play in the end zone, but settling for a field goal (it was 1st and 10 I think).
I usually don’t play such close attention to those little errors through the game, but they sure added up at the end of the game.
3. Duffey Was Actually Pretty Good (With a Caveat). But for the turnovers, Duffey looked really good and this was what I sort of envisioned when I thought he would start after the spring. The turnovers was obviously the deciding factor when it came down to Bowman or Duffey, but I thought that he looked really good overall. Duffey completed 78% of his passes for 9.4 yards per pass and had 4 touchdowns and that one very terrible interception. He could have had a couple more on some questionable calls, but like I was critical of Bowman, they didn’t happen, so they don’t count. And you add in Duffey’s legs, 97 yards (he actually lost 17 on sacks) on 17 carries for 4.7 yards per carry.
I think Duffey is going to be incredibly tough for K-State and Baylor to stop, he’s just got to remember that he can’t stop himself. Sometimes that extra yard running for the ball isn’t worth it.
4. The Defense Was Almost Good Enough. To even be in the game to tie it with 1:45 remaining was something of a miracle and the defense, I thought, did enough to stop Texas and win this game. But so close so many times, and that last drive, the last pass, it was a helluva pass by Ehlinger and Demarcus Fields was right there to make the play. The passing game continues to be the part of the defense that struggles the most, last night was no different. Ehlinger averaged 9.2 yards per attempt and the run defense continues to be good enough, allowing Texas to 157 yards on 48 carries for 3.3 yards per carry. And to not even have your best defender on the field for that, the defense has come a long ways, but they’re not quite there just yet.
5. Pass Rush Shows Up. If we’re looking for positive things, the pass rush was really good, getting to Ehlinger 5 times, 2 by Nick McCann, the first was an absolute terrific move. Jordyn Brooks, Lonzel Gilmore, Kolin Hill, and Broderick Washington all finished with a sack and you can definitely see how the defense is trying to get better in that regard. There has been improvement I think and only Hill and Tony Jones are gone after this year. That’s pretty good I think and eventually the defense is going to have some guys that can get after the quarterback this year.
6. Wesley & Vasher & High. It’s pretty amazing how good Antoine Wesley has been and I’d steal some stats about how Wesley is “this” close to breaking some sort of team record, but you don’t need for me to tell you some stats to know that he’s been absolutely great for this team this year. Add in 8 more catches and 171 more yards and 2 more touchdowns. He’s been an absolute difference maker, while having a healthy T.J. Vasher has proven to really be too much for opposing defenses. Vasher wasn’t dominating, but I’ll take 8 for 87 and 2 touchdowns every day. And the unsung work of Ja’Deion High, the guy couldn’t see the field until this year and he’s been incredibly reliable and had a terrific season. He’s really good at what he does.
7. Special Teams Does It Again. Without question, the most improved side of the ball has been the special teams. Without question, Adam Scheier has made such a significant improvement. The onside kick right at the Texas player was a stroke of genius and Clayton Hatfield’s ability to make those field goals wasn’t nearly as impressive as him executing that kick. And Scheier had to trust Hatfield to make that play and he absolutely did. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen an onsides kick like that one.
8. Game Iconography.
Tortilla Tossin’ Player of the Game: Antoine Wesley is an absolute stud.
Guns Up Offensive MVP: I’ll give this one to Vasher, who was a force, and that penalty on him that gave Texas Tech their last touchdown was all because they knew they couldn’t cover him. I can’t give it to Duffey with those 3 turnovers, but he didn’t give up.
Sheriff Star Defensive MVP: Jordyn Brooks, finished with 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1 tackle for a loss. He was all over the field in place of Dakota Allen.
9. Quotes. Kingsbury on the comeback and Duffey’s performance.
Q. Speak to the comeback and the effort that your kids gave tonight.
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that’s kind of a signature of this team. It’s just a shame, some of these we haven’t been able to close, this is the third Big-12 game that we had three plus turnovers and lost because of it and that can’t happen. You play these better teams and you got to protect the football. And we didn’t get any takeaways, we didn’t play very good defensively. And you got to give them credit, I thought their offense played really well. Quarterback threw it well, Humphrey is a really good player and they made more plays than us.
Q. What did you think of Jett’s performance?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I thought it was good. I thought that it would have been easy to fold after that last fumble. And he competes his tail off. He had a great look in his eye the entire time. The first interception he was just trying to do too much, dropped the snap, just should have thrown it away. Then he was loose with the football on the one and they took it from him on the other. But he gave us a chance to win with his mental toughness there at the end and the way he competed. So we got to clean those things up. That’s on me as his coach, but he fought hard.
On going for it on 4th and 1:
Q. The decision to go for it right before the half is that something you would like to have over again?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, I thought that we had been great on quarterback sneak, it was about six inches, they just had a 19-play drive and they were holding the football and I didn’t think we could go three and out again. So trying to get a spark and we just didn’t get it. But I would do it 10 out of 10 times.
Q. So that was trying to get some momentum?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: We had gone three and out they had a 19-play drive, they were leaning on us, I didn’t think we could put the defense out there. I thought we would get it. We had been really good on that play but just didn’t get it. But I would do it again.
Q. Was it a lack of execution on the play?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think they made a good play and I think that we didn’t get the push that I thought we could get. So a little bit of both. But you got to give them credit for getting that six inches and, like I said, I think we were about 7-7 on the year on getting those and we just didn’t get it.
On if he feels that this team is snakebit:
Q. Do you feel snake bit? Last week you start strong, 14-0 lead, can’t finish. This week start strong.
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, not snake bit, I just feel bad for our team in that we’re fighting hard, we’re playing with great effort, we have a few too many penalties here or there, we got to clean up some little things, but you’d like to see a better result on some of these where they’re playing with that much effort and that much heart and together and continue to fight. But we just haven’t been able to close it and that comes with doing it. You got to be able to do it so you can reach back and see the next time it happens and learn from that and we just haven’t gotten over that hump this season.
On Wesley’s performance:
Q. Obviously Antoine really picked it up in the second half, in the first half, he made a couple of plays there.
KLIFF KINGSBURY: They had a bunch of cloud coverage so they were rotating two guys which was smart. When we had our opportunity to get his one-on-ones I thought Jett did a good job of seeing the field and getting it there. In both cases, when TJ had his one on ones he found him so I thought Jett was seeing the field well.
On the crowd leaving:
Q. What did you think when it’s 27-17 there and a bunch of people are already leaving?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I mean that’s kind of par for the course right now with our fans. So it is what it is. We got to win and they got to stick around.
On the Des Smith penalty:
Q. What did you see on the penalty on third and 33?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: You can’t do that. I didn’t see it, but it was egregious enough for them to throw it away from the football. The ball wasn’t even over there and that’s just undisciplined football, you can’t play for us if you’re going to make those mistakes on third and 33. That was a huge play in the game.
10. Final Thoughts & La Yapa.
- How can Caden Sterns literally lower his helmet and knock himself out of the game not get called for a review, but multiple Rico Jeffers hits get a completely different treatment?
- Texas Tech averaged 7.3 yards per play to UT’s 5.7. /shakes fist at turnovers/
- Texas Tech converted 10 of 15 on third down to just 8 of 15 for Texas. That stat usually wins you games alone right there.
- 8 penalties for 89 yards on Texas Tech compared to 6 for 59 for Texas.