1. Game Links:
2. Morton In, Smith Out? Before the game, there was the rumor (not sure what to call it, perhaps a report) that Donovan Smith had a buggy shoulder and leg and that Behren Morton would start. After the game, Don Williams tweeted that Smith was on the field at least one time and that they didn’t deny the rumor/report that Smith’s shoulder was injured for competitive reasons. After the game, McGuire confirmed the shoulder injury from Kansas State and said that he just wasn’t right, that he and Morton split reps this week and that Morton found out on Friday that he’d start . . . We now have a new starting quarterback? Or maybe it was a one-off with Tyler Shough starting after the off-week and the ability to get better and on the field? After the game last week, McGuire really sympathized with Smith and he mentioned that Smith felt terrible about how he played against Kansas State. McGuire sort of talked about how as a quarterback you get all of the blame, but that it wasn’t all of his fault, talking about how the line has to block better and the receivers have to do a better job. Maybe he knew how bad his shoulder was after the game and it was his nod to Smith for competing as hard as he did.
I also can’t say that I know what would happen if Smith would have started, that’s a really difficult line to walk and I don’t like to play in those sort of what if’s. I tend to think that the staff very much trying to win games and play players who give the team the best chance of winning and I think it was clear that the turnovers were a real problem.
I’m not 100% sure what’s gong to happen, maybe that’s the plan in that McGuire just sort of says that if everyone is healthy, that all three quarterbacks will play. We’ll see, but if I had to put money on it, I’d guess that Shough starts against West Virginia if he’s healthy and Morton is the back-up if he’s healthy. Would this drive a lot of you crazy? Yes, it would.
3. Offensive Performance. When we’re looking at what Morton did as a quarterback, I think the general consensus is that Morton did well given the circumstances, first start, on the road, undefeated opponent, really good team and defense, etc. All of those things are true. Morton completed 63% of his passes, 39 of 62 for 379 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. I think that’s a really solid debut. Add to the idea that Myles Price was also out, perhaps the best receiver on the team, and things get difficult quickly. If I had to guess, my guess is that the fact that Morton didn’t turn the ball over is what will likely allow him to start again before Smith (given he’s healthy). Oklahoma State will won by 10, but if turnovers were similar to what happened against Kansas State, I’d think that this is a 20 point loss.
I still think that the constant pressure is an issue and I think it will be something that’s dealt with during the off-week because 12 quarterback pressures are untenable and when we discussed the mistakes that Smith made, a large part of that is attributable to the pressure. It definitely helps make quarterbacks make poor decisions, or at the very least hurried decisions.
4. Defensive Defense. It’s not as if 41 points is a small amount, and Oklahoma State really sort of earned each of them. I’m sort of the opinion at this point that the defense is playing well, but they are obviously giving up big plays, especially in the air and with Sanders scrambling. The other item that Texas Tech had working against us is that Oklahoma State was only in 3rd in long 3 times, converting 1 of them, but to just be in 3 is a success (Texas Tech was in 10 for comparison purposes) and on average Oklahoma State only had an average of 6.2 yards to go (compared to 7.4 for Texas Tech). And it should be noted that Oklahoma State’s struggles (that’s really not the right word) on the offense could be attributed to Sanders not being able to complete as many passes as he’s done for the year, which was 66% for the year and 50% yesterday. The defensive backs are defending a good number of passes.
5. Number Thoughts. Let’s get into some numbers. Both teams ran 41 times, Texas Tech was 148, and Oklahoma State was 137 . . . This speaks to the offensive line woes. In opportunities where Texas Tech had 2 or less yards to go for a 1st down, Texas Tech converted only 14%, 1 of 7, and had 11 rushes stuffed for no gain or a loss. That’s 11 out of the aforementioned 41 times. That speaks to the Oklahoma State front, but also how the offensive line isn’t able to get that push. I get that it takes more time sometimes, but that is an issue . . . There’s something called offensive success rate, which is the number of plays needed for a 1st down and Texas Tech was at 30% with 50% being above average and below 40% being below average . . . Additionally, the same type of stat but for rushing attempts, Texas Tech was at 32%, Oklahoma State was at 50% for the day, so just not getting things done at that end of the field . . . I mentioned third downs and Texas Tech was 8 of 22 overall, 36.4%, but it is the 3rd and longs that are killing them. Being in the long down and distance (9+ yards) Texas Tech went 2 of 10 and third and short were 4 of 8. They are managing the third downs with a freshman quarterback and few healthy scholarship receivers, but it’s getting in a bad down and distance that are the killer . . . Another interesting bit is that on 3rd downs when Texas Tech passed yesterday, they were 9 of 12 for 102 yards . . . Oklahoma State was 6 of 6 in the red zone and Texas Tech was 4 of 4 . . . Oklahoma State spent 62% of their plays in Texas Tech’s end of the field compared to just 43% for Texas Tech . . .
6. An Onsides Kick That Wasn’t. I thought that the attempt was genius and it almost worked out to absolute perfection. A slight fair catch call ruined the entire thing and I can absolutely guarantee you that had that been me that I never would have thought to do that. I’m not that quick on my feet, but that could have changed a ton (again, not playing into what if’s, but to get the ball back would have been huge to start the game). The special teams was good in the sense there weren’t major issues, but from a performance standpoint, Texas Tech isn’t getting much, if any big yards from special teams. The kickoff returns only averaged a shade over 16 a return and McNamara only averaged 41.5 yards per punt. I don’t know if there was a breeze, but I sort of expect more from him, which is probably unfair. Maybe he’s banged up from taking that hit a few weeks ago.
7. Sitting at 3-3. If you would have told me 6 weeks ago that Texas Tech would be sitting at 3-3, but you’d be down to your 3rd string quarterback, your 1st string quarterback didn’t make it through the 1st game, and as a team Texas Tech would be -7 in turnover margin (in the bottom 10 of FBS teams) then I’d absolutely take it.
Thankfully there’s an off-week ahead and that means that there’s time for players to get a bit healthy. Texas Tech will be at home for two weeks in a row, hosting West Virginia and Baylor. The remaining schedule:
10/22: West Virginia
11/05: @ TCU
11/19: @ Iowa State
I feel pretty confident that there are 3 more wins there.
8. Idle Thoughts. Tyler Owens got the start over Reggie Pearson at safety . . . McGuire said after the game that J.J. Sparkman has a thumb injury, which is why he didn’t play . . . Joseph Adedire also got the start at defensive end . . . Trey Cleveland is really coming into his own, 9 catches for 100 yards and he looks impressive . . . Jerand Bradley also looked great, 8 for 119 and a touchdown . . . Loic Fouonji is not getting as much time as I would have thought, but it is also important to remember that playing receiver is tough and a year ago I was wondering why Cleveland wasn’t playing more and sometimes it is just a maturation process and that’s okay . . . Krishon Merriweather led the team with 17 tackles. He was absolutely all over the place, including a sack and a quarterback hurry . . . Rashad Williams continues to get picked on and he continues to defend really well, 5 pass break-ups yesterday and for new starter Tyler Owens, he had 2 . . . Jacob Rodriguez is getting more time, he had 2 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries . . . SaRodorick Thompson looks amazing, 20 carries for 87 yards and he’s looked good for a while and he’s a joy to watch. Tahj Brooks doesn’t look like he’s in a good spot, he looks healthy and he only had 4 carries for 8 yards, so I think he’s getting the ball in bad situations (like I mentioned above) because he’s a better running back than to average 2 yards a carry . . . The tight ends continue to struggle to find their footing, Mashon Tharp had 1 catch for 2 yards (he had 4 targets), Baylor Cupp had 1 catch for no gain and the leader yesterday was Henry Teeter with 1 catch for 6 yards. It just feels like they should do more, which is probably unfair . . . Despite not getting the start, Reggie Pearson had 4 tackles, shared a sack with Tyree Wilson, and had a pass break-up . . . Xavier White should have never been a running back, he’s such a good receiver, 8 for 62 and a touchdown . . . Tyree Wilson has had only 1 game where he was held sackless, which was Houston . . .
9. Coach Comments.
Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire
“I’m really proud of the guys. Coming into a great environment, playing the No. 7 team in the country and a really good football team. We fought right there throughout the game, I’m proud of our players.”
On Oklahoma State offense:
I thought when they needed the yards, their quarterback did a good job of running the football. We got them into some situations to where it was third down and he converted with his feet. I thought he did a good job throwing the ball, but with a guy like that, we just didn’t get him down enough. There’s a couple time when we didn’t get enough pass rush and he was able to extend the play with his feet or extend the play throwing the ball.
On early-game strategy:
I thought we started well. We took a shot there with the little bloop kick and the kid did a great job of fair catching the ball and then they go down and score to tie it at seven-to-seven after a couple of plays… I thought (starting quarterback Behren Morton) did a great job… The thing we were going to do today with their D-Line, which is the strength of their football team, we felt like if we could get the ball out quick enough on the edges and attack them that we could stay ahead of the sticks. But I thought Behren did a great job today.
On second half momentum swing:
“I think (Oklahoma State) did a really good job of adjusting, they started dropping eight (into coverage) … I’ve been a part of that defense and whenever you’re good enough up front to drop eight and still generate pressure, you’ve got a good defense. We had some negative plays and then just their ability to be able to drop eight and still pressure us when we were throwing the ball, that was the biggest thing on those last few drives.”
10. Tortilla Tossin’ Players of the Game.
Krison Merriweather’s 17 tackles has to lead the way for me, just an incredibly impressive performance.
Behren Morton, a true freshman stepping in and throwing for 379 yards with just 1 pick, 2 touchdowns, is impressive. There’s room for improvement (of course there is), but there’s a lot of good there too.
These 3 tortillas have to be shared between Cleveland and Bradley, 219 yards between the two of them and a touchdown.