1. A Win is a Win. A Win is a Win? A Win is a Win . . . Normally, when I make that statement, it’s a statement of fact. Wins have been so short to come by that appreciating them is even more important. I thought before the game that Texas Tech had too many statistical advantages not to win this game and I think that was true. Some of that was Baylor simply not being able to get out of their own way. I don’t know what would have happened if Baylor could catch the ball. That part doesn’t matter and it’s not fair to Texas Tech. Still, I think this game could have been much closer, but there’s also an argument that the game could have been 45 had Tre King not fumbled on the one yard line. I think the phrase, “a win is a win” should always be said as a statement. Enjoy it for a week and at the very least and let other folks enjoy it too.
2. Goal Line Stand. It seemed like the absolute best play of the day was the goal line stand, both the third down and fourth down plays were absolutely stand-up-off-the-couch plays for me. The stop by Mych Thomas on third down and the stop by Broderick Washington on 4th down were things that we just haven’t seen in a long time. You talk about breaking Baylor’s back, this goal line stand was probably a big part of it. Hats off to Thomas and Washington and everyone else involved in that play. They were the two earth movers and they hardly ever get any credit, so let’s heap a bit of praise on them.
3. 59 Plays. That’s it. That’s the total number of offensive plays that Texas Tech had. There were 29 passing plays and 30 running plays. Of Texas Tech’s 13 drives, 5 of them resulted in touchdowns, although one of those “drives” was Coleman’s strip of the Baylor receiver for the touchdown and another was the end of half with 0:17 seconds remaining, so really, it was 4 of 11. That’s not good enough and that’s not going to be good enough to beat TCU for sure and most likely Texas. Texas Tech had to punt four times. A lot of that falls on Shimonek, who was efficient, just like Mahomes said during the game, but Kingsbury was frustrated. He was asked if the offense could do better:
Yeah. I think when you look at it, you’re not always going to go out and score 50 points. And we lost a pretty tremendous player early, and so we’re still working through some things. We have a lot of good players on offense. But I don’t think we played our best football. I think we’ve having moments where we play really well and moving the ball and there are moments where we have to get better and crucial times we have to get better. When you have a chance to close out games, we haven’t been great this year. So we’ll keep working on that. We have two more opportunities to do that.
Then Kingsbury was asked about Shimonek being efficient and this was his answer:
I think he does a good job of getting locked in and getting focused early, and got to give him a lot of credit to come out and get through his reads and find the right guys. As the game goes on, we got to be consistent with that and try to play like that the entire game.
I don’t think the frustration is just with you guys and if I had to guess, I’d guess that Shimonek really is the best option and it’s not close. I’m sure that McLane Carter has something, but it’s probably just not close. Still, you should know that Kingbury wants to see more out of the offense as well, I think that’s pretty clear.
3. King is So Good. Yeah, the fumble was terrible, but I don’t know where this team would be without Tre King. He finished with 20 carries for 67 yards, the longest of those was a 14 yard run, and it was a ton of short stuff that moved the chains. Add to that, 3 catches for 22 yards and your boy has 89 yards of total offense. King went out at some point in the 4th quarter (I think) and Kingsbury said after the game that it was a lower leg injury.
4. Best Defender. I think I wrote last week that I thought Jordyn Brooks was the team’s best defender and that they missed them greatly against Kansas State. I think that was a misstatement, and truthfully, I think that Dakota Allen is the team’s best defender with Brooks coming in as a close second. Allen is probably going to go back and forth with Brooks and Jah’Shawn Johnson in leading the team in tackles, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d take Allen. Allen is probably better in pass defense, something that Brooks will eventually learn, but I think that’s where Allen gets the nod from me. Still nice to be able to talk about how there are a few defenders to choose from.
5. That Pass Defense Though. There may not be a bigger overhaul than the pass defense needing to improve. Baylor was throwing the ball all over the playce, 63 attempts, but there were so many open spots and I think that’s been the case for the better part of the year. The pass defense has needed the most work, there are just so many open holes in how Texas Tech plays that zone defense that guys are just open. I wish we had the coach’s film to see what’s really happening, but it looks like there just isn’t a ton of closing speed, with the cornerbacks and safeties, hence the big cushion. That part doesn’t bother me because the other option is to have those receivers run past you. I’m not exactly sure how this gets better, but I think something needs to give. I think there are guys that are playing out of position and it is a matter of time before Desmon Smith is going to move to safety. He just doesn’t have the speed to play cornerback and I’d still like to see Coleman a bit more at cornerback rather than safety. I thought that Coleman would make a leap in his play but that hasn’t happened.
6. Turnovers. Man, those were the stars of the game. Texas Tech had three fumble recoveries and an interception, plust a turnover on downs at the 1 yard line. That’s what flipped the game. The defense has 22 turnovers on the year, compared to 13 in 2016 (the defense had 4 turnovers against Baylor in 2016 and 2017). When the defense does get the ball back, it makes a significant difference, the problem for Kingsbury and Gibbs is that statistics show that relying on turnovers, as a key to stopping an opponent can be sketchy at best. There’s luck and skill involved in getting turnovers, and the way that Gibbs coaches the team to try to force them really is a good thing. However, the luck factor is pretty important, especially on the fumble recoveries. It’s nice, and I’ll take it all day long.
7. Third Down Deficient. This is probably Kingsbury’s biggest issue with the way that Shimonek and the offense played. Texas Tech was 4 of 10 on third downs and the other problem was that the average distance to go was 8.5 yards per attempt. That’s way too long for Shimonek to typically complete, add another half a yard and Shimonek was just 1 of 5 on third and longs (9+ yards) and an easy 1 of 2 on third and shorts (0-4 yards). All 4 conversions were pass completions. The offense continues to find it’self in bad spots on third downs and if you want to beat TCU, it needs to be over 50%.
8. Offensive Standouts. Speaking of plays that broke Baylor’s back, how about that kickoff return to start the game by Keke Coutee. Not a huge game from him catching the ball, but that return was beautifully set up by the return unit and they deserve a ton of credit for giving him so much space. I thought that Dylan Cantrell had a heck of a first half (and game overall), but maybe Cantrell wasn’t featured as much in the second half. Anyway, Cantrell was nails, catching 11 for 94 yards. That wheel route by Cameron Batson was a thing of beauty and Shimonek’s ability to find him was terrific. T.J. Vasher is going to be a ton of fun to watch. He’s such a big target.
9. Defensive Standouts. We’ve already talked about Allen. Vaughnte Dorsey is a missle and I am sometimes shocked about how he plays with wreckless abandon. It was nice to see him with that pick, but he also finished with 8 tackles and another pass break-up (also a decent pressure on Brewer). I think we’re getting to the point where Eli Howard is going to need some more help. He’s gassed and maybe this means playing more of Kolin Hll, Zach Barnes or Quentin Yontz, but I think he’d play better if he had fewer snaps. It also seems as if Tony Jones doesn’t get as many snaps as I thought he would, but I don’t know. Demarcus Fields plays wreckless too, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. That’s weird to see from a cornerback (not a bad thing).
10. Two More to Go. We’re heading into that final stretch. Texas Tech now has 2 conference wins with TCU at home and Texas on the road on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Like a lot of you, I thought that Kingsbury was coaching for his job against Kansas State. I’ve hesitated to have front page posts speculating about job candidates because that’s premature. I have no doubt that if Kingsbury wins the next two, then he keeps his job. If he goes 1-1 then I think think Texas Tech goes in a different direction and 0-2 and there’s no question what happens. That still means there’s a ton of opportunity sitting right there for this team to take.