Week 7 Awards: Moral Victory?

In game six of the Matt Wells era, the Red Raiders walked into McClane Stadium for Wells’ first Big 12 road game (that I care to remember) and took the undefeated #22 Baylor Bears to 2OT. While they didn’t come out on top, I’d argue this one is about as close to a moral victory as you’re going to see as a Red Raider. Following the Montana State game, I felt like this team would struggle to win more than a couple more, and then they were forced into a change at starting quarterback. All seemed lost after a brutal beating on the road at the hands of the Sooners, but the team responded. Travis Bruffy was vocal about the team’s leadership taking responsibility for not having the team ready to play. With a pretty good crowd for an 11:00 am kick, very few in the stands felt much hope for that game, and then the Red Raiders made it happen.

I think most reserved judgment or held back from being too optimistic about the chances in Waco, but I didn’t hear anyone predicting a game like that. It was an imperfect performance by everyone on the field, but I saw a lot of positives for this Tech team. The defense showed some real flashes of growth as a whole team, beyond just the performances of isolated individuals. The offense’s screen and ground games finally started to see some real success too. In my opinion, this team could have walked into McClane and gotten rolled by the Bears but collectively they said “no.” You can’t deny that this team fought all day long, they didn’t lay down, and while it hurts to admit it that’s not something we’ve seen much of in recent years.

I’m not happy with the performance yesterday, there’s a ton to clean up on both sides of the ball. Duffey can’t force throws like he was trying to, receivers need to improve downfield blocking, there are still issues with game management and playcalling, and Duffey’s ability to make plays on the ground should be utilized, not neutralized to -1 yards on 12 carries. But overall when considering the situation, that was a win for the Red Raider program as it sits today. They fought tooth and nail on the road in the Big 12 against a talented team on the rise, they came up a little short but for the first time in a while I was proud of their fight.

Dang Bro Award – SaRodorick Thompson, RB

Thompson owned the ground Saturday afternoon. He rumbled for 153 yards and 2TDs on 28 carries. In fact, Thompson ran for just 20 yards shy of Baylor’s collective output on the day for four rushers. With Ta’Zhawn Henry out with injury, the three-headed attack was cut down to Thompson and Armand Shyne and it was Thompson who stepped out and made it happen in a big way. On top of the 153 yards on the ground, he added another 24 yards on 5 catches.

Fired Up Award – Matt Wells, HC

Whew Boy! I like seeing some fire from Texas Tech’s head man! Matt Wells is 100% involved in coaching the Red Raiders on the sideline. He’s bought into how the team and coaches perform and he’s bought into how the game unfolds and I’m all in on that. Three moments, in particular, stair-stepped my opinion of him higher.

  1. Matt Wells addressed his kicker personally and immediately after a boneheaded kickoff at the end of the first half gave the Bears great field position with time left. He didn’t hesitate to stop and make his questions and thoughts passionately known, that’s good stuff. There’s no reason to ignore the mistake or to leave it to an assistant.
  2. Wells declined the delay of game. In a glorious moment, Matt Rhule, whose fashion travesties and constant lip licking will continue to be much-maligned, took an intentional delay of game to give his right-footed kicker a little more room to work from the right hash. In a moment that drew a look of incredulity from Rhule, Matt Wells declined the penalty and made Rhule look like he was just wasting time and effort. It was a great moment (and the right call) that left the lip licker looking silly.
  3. Wells gave a quick and emphatic reaction to a big mistake by Keith Patterson’s defense. I believe this was in response to Patterson burning a timeout with Baylor pinned deep in their territory to avoid a 12 men on the field penalty. Wells came straight to Patterson and once again passionately voiced his concerns. During the game, I was a little annoyed with the behavior, but in hindsight, I like the fire. I like how much he cares, that he’s competitive, and frankly that he has high expectations not just for players but for his staff too. I’ve linked that one below, fair warning, it’s NSFW.

New Guy Award – RJ Turner, WR

RJ Turner kind of came out of nowhere Saturday. The senior from Natchitoches, LA is a graduate transfer from Louisiana-Monroe and Saturday he more than doubled his season totals in receiving yardage with 7 catches for 138 yards. Turner wasn’t able to haul in a touchdown catch but becoming that kind of target and leading the team when Duffey hit 10 total receivers is saying something for his upside and the ability of grad transfers to come in and make an impact. The 79-yard long


I think it’s important to recognize both of these units for their impressive contributions Saturday. Defensive backs and linebackers made up the Red Raiders’ top five tacklers on the day. Douglas Coleman and Jordyn Brooks led the team in tackles with 8 apiece. Brooks also chipped in a tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries as well. Coleman picked up his nation-leading sixth interception of the season (that’s six in six games) and combined that with eight tackles of his own. The linebacking corps has shown some real strength and was solid even in the first half with Riko Jeffers serving a 1/2 game suspension for targeting last week.

Sucks to Suck Award – Mike Defee, R

Real change is needed in Big12 officiating. It is much-maligned across the country and yesterday in the best game of the day on national television it failed big time, to the frustration of Red Raiders. Furthermore, controversy in the Red River Showdown once again thrust Mike Defee into the national spotlight, which is right where he wants to be.

From 247 Sports, “But after the game, it was once again the pregame flag issued by Defee that was at the front and center of the conversation. Defee, in an interview with a pool reporter, went into further detail on the incident, in which he lamented the behavior displayed by the longtime foes. Defee said it was the first time he had ever exercised the pregame penalty in his officiating career.

‘This is the 115th playing of this great game, and to have this kind of thing happen is disappointing,’ Defee said. ‘We can’t control that as officials. The primary responsibility of the officials is two-fold outside of just playing the rules. One is player safety and two is the integrity of the game. What happened out there is an embarrassment to everyone. It shouldn’t happen. At the end of the day, that’s why we did what we did and issued a warning.’

Defee additionally alleged that he and one of the other members of his officiating crew were hit during the scuffle.”

Defee threw a flag during the pregame scuffle and issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to every member of both teams. No big deal right? What this meant was that any unsportsmanlike penalty for the entire game would result in an automatic ejection. There is no situation where any referee should feel like he has the responsibility to ensure anyone respects the game to his liking. Nor is there any situation where DeFee should feel empowered to speak with a member of the media to lecture the country about his feelings of the importance of a game. His personal bias and incredible ego were laid bare Saturday afternoon, both of which have long been noticed by Big 12 fans across the country.

Honorable Mentions

Jett Duffey, QB – When Jett Duffey fell into the role after Jackson Tyner confirmed what basically every observer was thinking, he struggled. But with time with the first-team offense under his belt, the 2015 Mr. Texas Football Player of the Year shined against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Lubbock. This week, he was not as sharp, but he did spread the ball around to 10 receivers on the day, the two interceptions were not great, but 31/42 for 362yds, and 1TD ain’t bad at all on the road.

Kirby Hocutt, AD – We’ll be hearing more about this in the coming days, but Kirby Hocutt immediately went to work on the officiating issues that ultimately changed the outcomes of the game. The “illegal snap” infraction that negated a recovered fumble by Tech was not even close to correct, bad snaps are not illegal. Illegal snaps are the result of illegal movement of the ball before the snap. This is where having an AD like Hocutt is important not only for Tech but for the Big 12 too. The former chairman of the Football Playoff Committee, a current member of the NCAA Division 1 Baseball Committee, and one of the highest-paid and most-respected ADs in the country. While Red Raider fans are most concerned with wins and losses and if Hocutt is making the right hires, he is in a position to effect real change in NCAA athletics and the Big 12 would do well to utilize him as a resource and ally.


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