1. Mistakes. Some of the same mistakes that plagued this team last week plagued this team this week as well. Untimely penalties, in particular of the 15 yard variety, a turnover for a touchdown, and a kickoff return for a touchdown. That’s the game right there. Don’t do those things and Texas Tech could just have well won this game. That’s 100 yards of penalties and 14 points right there. It’s frustrating to know that the game was certainly within reach, but the mistakes that plague this team seem to crp up each week. The penalties are the most glaring thing. The pick-6 you can almost live with because that was one helluva play. I can’t handle the special teams gaffes much longer, for them to happen two weeks in a row is highly disappointing and one where you wonder if special teams coach Joe Robinson has too many freshman out there on the field on kickoff returns or what.
2. Just a Weird Game. Maybe this was just me, but this game felt weird from the outset. something was off about it and I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was the offense just not clicking like I think it should have clicked in the second half. That’s probably it, but for some reason, I never really felt settled for this game, just an uneasy feeling. And maybe this is just who I am, as I figure out who and what this team actually is. I kept thinking the defense was going to break time after time, but the defense forced 3 punts in a row in the second half and the offense could only capitalize with a field goal in that third quarter. That’s more than I expected from the defense truthfully. Regardless, maybe this game felt weird because this was probably the exact outcome of the game that was to be expected, a game where Texas Tech would be penalized much more than Kansas State, Kansas State would have a significant special teams play and the Kansas State defense didn’t so much stop Texas Tech (overall yards), but they certainly stopped Texas Tech when it mattered on three fourth down attempts.
3. 4th Downs. I always like to be consistent on how I roll with these fourth down attempts and after the third quarter started, the drive chart reads: downs, field goal, downs, punt, downs, touchdown, end of half. On three of the second half drives, Texas Tech went for it on 4th down, the one that maybe comes back to really haunt you is the first turnover on downs, where Texas Tech had the chance to put 3 points on the board, but Kingsbury went for it and lost that gamble. In retrospect, that’s a tough one to think about knowing how this game ended. So then, Kingsbury goes for the field goal on the subsequent drive, grabbing those points. On the very next drive, Texas Tech is driving and at the Kansas State 41 yard line when they feel like they have to go for it on 4th down again. At this point, there’s only 3:37 in the third quarter and it’s tied up, but you somewhat get that sense of pending doom if Texas Tech doesn’t score.
Well, on that fourth down play, it never had a chance because Reggie Walker sacked Mahomes, was completely untouched and Texas Tech doesn’t just not have an opportunity, the offensive line completely whiffs. And I really don’t understand how that works because I think this is the play where Murphy just blocks inside while Jackson has a straight shot at Mahomes, the guy with the injured shoulder. So, if I’m being consistent, I think that going for it in this situation seems a bit odd, and I get that it’s not exactly far enough for a punt, but you now give KSU a short field and they subsequently score a touchdown.
Now, at this point you would think that time becomes a factor and this puts even more pressure on the Texas Tech offense a bit. However, Texas Tech’s next drive was the 3-and-out and with K-State up by 7 and then kicking a field goal, Kansas State has made it a 10 point game with about 6 minutes remaining. I told myself that there was no way that this was enough time for Texas Tech to make up 10 points. I know that it’s possible, but that two score lead felt like the nail in the coffin.
4. Mahomes Shoulder. I really never expected Mahomes to play and I wrote in my 5 Post Game Thoughts that I scoffed earlier this week when Kingsbury said that it would be Mahomes decision and sure enough, Kingsbury was right. This was Mahomes decision I would guess and Kingsbury also told Mahomes that he would be the one pulling himself out of the game unless Mahomes re-injured the shoulder and the doctors pulled him. I think back to Kingsbury’s playing days and all of the games that he played that he probably shouldn’t have but I’d guess that Leach told Kingsbury the same thing. It’s your call, you can choose to tap out or you can choose to play. I would guess that this is what makes Kingsbury as tough as he is because he never tapped out, and maybe this game was more about a lesson in toughness more than anything else. I don’t know if a coach is supposed to do this differently and some folks seem to think that the outcome would have maybe been different in the second half if Nic Shimonek would have played, but Kingsbury isn’t going to pull his guy unless he pulls himself and that’s just the way it’s going to be. That’s loyalty, perhaps to a fault, but that’s loyalty.
5. All Things Considered. That’s what I tend to think about the defense. All things considered, they played well. They only gave up 31 points, which is livable. They only allowed 335 yards. They forced Kansas State into 4 of 11 on third downs. That’s all things I can live with. Again, K-State isn’t some sort of great offense and this game could have been an indicator of how the offense might look like against opponents that can actually play, but I wasn’t upset at the defense’s performance really at all. I can live with that and I think most Texas Tech fans will say that the offense really should have been better.
6. The Television Production Stunk. I don’t normally complain about television production, but why didn’t we get to see the Justin Murphy personal foul? Or the Keke Coutee unsportsmanlike conduct? Why didn’t we get a good look at the offensive pass interference on Dylan Cantrell? Or how about how or why there was an ineligible man downfield during that 4th and 2 on the goal line? That’s somewhat of a big play. That’s terrible production value and I don’t get why we didn’t get to see those plays. This seems incredibly inconsequential to complain about the television production, but I almost never leave a football game with having not seen a play enough and that was the case here.
7. Offensive Performances. Overall, I thought that Mahomes was good considering all circumstances. He was 45 of 62 for 504 yards, 2 passing touchdowns and the pick-6 interception. That’s 73% for about 8 yards an attempt, which is fine. The three additional running touchdowns are icing on the cake and you somewhat wish on some of those 4th downs that Mahomes would have run for a few of them, or at least attempted. It appears that the job of running back is now Demarcus Felton’s as he ran 14 times for 66 yards with no negative yardage. I can live with that. Justin Stockton couldn’t find any openings and finished with a net of -8 on 3 carries. Dylan Cantrell was Mahomes’ main target tonight, grabbing 10 passes for 81 yards, while Devin Lauderdale showed up (I think Derrick Willies may have been injured during the game) and he finished with 7 receptions for 92 yards. Keke Coutee had his second straight terrific game as he had 5 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. The terror known as Jonathan Giles was pretty quiet, only grabbing 4 passes for 49 yards on the day.
8. Defensive Performances. I didn’t think that the defense really had a ton of standout players. It seemed as if Kansas State was netting big yards on big plays, but the defense did have 7 tackles for a loss, 2 by Ondre Pipkins, 2 by Gary Moore and 2 by Kolin Hill. Those were your only splash plays for the game. I didn’t think that any one player played particularly great, the performances were “meh”. This marks yet another game where there have not been any meaningful turnovers for the defense. Last week there were two turnovers, but I thought they were during garbage time. It seemed like last year there were games where the defense wouldn’t just come up with a stop, but an actual turnover to change the tide and that’s not happening for this team. That streak needs to end. I did like the play of Jordan Brooks and Gary Moore, although it seems like the defensive line did a pretty terrible job of getting pressure on Ertz. It seemed like he had ages to find an open receiver or just tuck the ball and run.
9. Miscellaneous. There were too many times that I hated the offensive line play. Giving up key sacks in key situations leaves me shaking my head. Just shouldn’t happen, especially to an injured quarterback. It would seem like they would figure that out. Texas Tech had 33 first downs to just 21 for K-State. Texas Tech held onto the ball for 31.22 compared to 28.38 for K-State. In the fourth quarter, when Texas Tech needed the ball the most, Kansas State had it for 9.38, while Texas Tech only had it for 5.22. On third downs, Texas Tech was 9 of 16, which is awesome, but 0-3 on fourth downs. Kansas State averaged 30 yards per kickoff return (helped by 99 yards). Kansas State is still perfect in the red zone, and was 6 of 6 last night, while Texas Tech was 5 of 6, that 4th down loss is a killer. I should also admit that I felt like this ten things was one of the worst one’s I’ve done in a long time. Yesterday, we celebrated Fitsum’s Gotcha Day, which is the day that he became ours (the actual day is Monday) and so we went out and he bought some Legos with some gift cards and we had lunch out. My mind was and has been somewhere in Ethiopia five years ago when we brought him home. I think we’re all just having a bad performance.
10. Getting to Six. Some way, some how, this team has to figure out how to get to six wins. Next week’s game against West Virginia darn near becomes a must-win game at home. It seems as if Iowa State is surging and Texas Tech has to travel to Ames to play and that seems worrisome. I think there are beatable teams on the schedule, namely TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State, but Texas Tech hasn’t played competitive football at Stillwater in quite some time. Texas Tech needs 3 more wins out of West Virginia, Oklahoma, @ TCU, Texas, @ Oklahoma State, @ Iowa State and Baylor.