1. The Setting
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-2, 2-1)
Bad Guys: Kansas Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3)
When to Watch: Saturday, October 20th @ 2:30 p.m.
Where to Watch: Jones AT&T Stadium | Lubbock, Texas
How to Watch: FS1 | FOX Sports Go
How to Listen: 97.3 FM | Affiliates | TuneIn App
The Line: Texas Tech -18 (OddsShark)
2. Uniform Tracker
3. The Big Storyline
One of the interesting things to think about thus far this year is how much “credit” the Texas Tech defense gets for their play thus far versus the quality of the offensive teams that Texas Tech has played this year. I actually podcasted about this earlier in the week and my answer, as you might guess, is that it’s both things, this doesn’t have to be, nor do I think it is, an either-or proposition.
I think the Oklahoma State offense and the TCU offense are not very good. I think that Oklahoma State should consider playing their freshman quarterback, which sounds crazy, but Cornelius is not getting it done. He’s very hit-or-miss down the field, missing more than he hits. And if this were something that just happened against Texas Tech, then I’d probably puff my chest out a bit, but he’s got 8 interceptions and has been a turnover machine since he played Texas Tech, with an interception each game and 2 last week against Kansas State. And with TCU, I think we’ll eventually find out that Shawn Robinson is a really nice athlete, which he is, but not a great quarterback. Another guy that has 8 interceptions, which includes an interception for every game except for his first game against Southern and two interceptions against Ohio State, Texas, and Texas Tech. In other words, in one-half of his games, Robinson is going to throw at least 2 interceptions.
This does not mean that Texas Tech doesn’t deserve some credit, but I think it would be both inaccurate and unfair to claim that the Texas Tech defense has absolutely turned the corner and can hang up the “Mission Accomplished” sign. The Red Raiders aren’t there yet. Improvements have been made, but if you look back to last year, by the end of the season, the Texas Tech defense had a S&P+ ranking of 88th overall, while the same ranking this year is 95th, moving up 6 spots from 101st from last week. The games against Ole Miss, Houston and the first half of West Virginia really skewed some things, but those results count too. As fans, you can’t really discount those things and just cherry-pick the good results. And the reason why I caution against doing this is because I think that Texas Tech will struggle against really good offenses. Thus far, that’s been their modus operandi. And that doesn’t mean that things can’t change, because they can. And if you’re projecting, there are two teams with top 30 offenses right now, Oklahoma and Baylor. And to be clear, in no way shape or form am I saying that it won’t be a dog-fight the rest of the way no matter the opponent, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Texas Tech struggle against both of those teams.
Freshman Tracker: Alan Bowman (x5), KeSean Carter(x6), Erik Ezukanma (x2), Ta’Zhawn Henry (x6), Sarodorick Thompson (x4), and Jaylon Hutchings (x1). We may have to put the freshman tracker to rest. I think there has been some discussion about possibly redshirting Alan Bowman and from what I know, since he’s eclipsed the 4-game allowance, that’s really not going to happen, despite whatever injury. I think you can pretty much put that thought out of your mind and it would be really nice for him to have a redshirt available, I think he’s simply played too much to take advantage of that rule.
4. Keys for Texas Tech
- Do not turn the ball over. Easier said than done, but Kansas leads the world in turnover margin by a healthy amount, grabbing 7 fumbles off of the turf, while nabbing 11 interceptions for a positive margin of +13. Some of these results are a bit skewed as Kansas had 6 turnovers gained against Central Michigan and 6 turnovers gained against Rutgers. There was a thought that this just happened against lesser opponents and then they went out and got a fumble and 3 interceptions against West Virginia (but they also had 3 turnovers themselves). Nevertheless, those turnovers happened and Jett Duffey’s touchdown to interception ratio is not exactly stellar, 2:4. Yes, that’s right, 2 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Duffey has to protect the ball better especially if Texas Tech wants to put this game away early.
- Texas Tech will really need to do what they normally do against the run, which is to limit the big plays and not allow any of the Kansas running back to pull free. They are actually very talented, probably the most talented position on the team. I think that Texas Tech is well-suited here, but the team just can’t have any Ole Miss relapses. And truthfully, the Kansas quarterback has not previously shown a propensity to beat teams with his arm on a consistent basis. I mentioned earlier this week that whoever is at quarterback for Kansas only averages 5.5 yards per completion. This Kansas offense is predicated on big-time rushing plays (their 9th in rushing marginal explosiveness).
- With an extra couple of days, I’ll be really interested to see what Kingsbury does with Duffey at quarterback. Despite what Duffey can do with his legs, I think that Kingsbury knows that a running quarterback isn’t really in this team’s best interest and most spread offenses are predicated on getting the ball to players in space and allowing them to make plays. That only happened on a few occasions against TCU, and TCU is very good defensively, but Duffey will need to make better use of those other weapons offensively.
- Maybe the biggest key will be to force Kansas into third downs as the Jayhawks are 86th overall in third and long success rate, 69th in third and medium success rate, and 92nd overall in third and short success rate. Those aren’t great percentages and if I had to guess, Gibbs will most likely wait for Kansas to somewhat shoot itself in the foot by simply not making those third downs and that somewhat plays into what the Red Raiders do defensively. Texas Tech is 92nd in stopping third and short situations, which isn’t great, but they definitely capitalize on third and medium and third and long situations, where Texas Tech is 24th and 27th respectively. The Texas Tech defense really somewhat waits for the opponent to get into a bad situation before they’re able to take advantage of that situation.
5. What to Watch
First play Kansas blitzes and pays the price because they have a receiver one-on-one and the WVU receiver scoots into the end zone . . . the next passing play, the Kansas quarterback sees the right play I think, but of all things WVU has two players jump up (it’s actually the player closer to the line of scrimmage) jump up and intercept the ball, when it rains it pours . . . the KU INT is a nice play, bodying Sills and getting in front of him, you don’t usually see that . . . every announcer just had to fan themselves with this Kansas RPO, it’s a super nice play because most teams aren’t used to actually covering a true tight end. The linebacker probably responsible for dropping into coverage does not do that and that big body fronts the safety who doesn’t really have a chance, pretty nice play . . . this is really a pretty nice play design from WVU, the H-back goes opposite the down blocks of the offensive line, against the grain, and just goes into the flat, while the linebacker had to choose between going after the QB or falling back and I think he made the right choice, but once the H-back got into the flat it was a math problem as there weren’t enough defenders there . . . another really nice cornerback play that just steps in front of the receiver . . . and another nice defensive play stepping in front of the receiver and you wonder where all of those terrible throws were against Texas Tech, but the KU defender cuts off the receiver and the only pass was up and over, not through the defender . . . I don’t think this touchdown run is an RPO, it’s a designed run, you’ve got a guard pulling who makes a heck of a block and that same tight end blasting the linebacker with a couple of nice jukes by the running back . . . this is just a bad defensive play, the linebacker doesn’t even attempt to cover the running back coming out of the backfield . . . oh sweet special teams . . . so the cornerback can’t keep pace with Sills (most of them cannot) on a pretty simple route . . . the Kansas QB makes the most out of a play that is a bit busted, does a nice job of not settling, but looking for the end zone and makes a nice tough throw between two defenders . . . another nice play on the two-point conversion, the receiver going into motion ends up with the catch and actually a pretty nice play design because the defender has to chance directions pretty quickly and just can’t keep up . . .
Off the top, I don’t know how I feel about how this makes Oklahoma State look at this point . . . so the first touchdown isn’t good coverage, but I didn’t notice that defender against WVU, so maybe he got benched . . . the second play is another OSU touchdown, but just a go route down the sideline with one-on-one coverage and that’s a tough cover for most cornerbacks, but the fact that the WR had to come back to get the ball says something about the OSU quarterback . . . the Kansas touchdown, the receiver makes a nice double move, stuttering to look like he’s going to turn around, but then going to the end zone and the QB makes a nice read and the receiver makes a nice play . . . I think that’s the same cornerback allowing the defender to get behind him for a pretty easy OSU touchdown . . . this is a zone read (not an RPO) and it’s nicely blocked but the freshman running back makes a couple of nice moves and he’s off to the races and wins pretty easily . . . OSU runs to the strongside and shortside of the field, Dineen has to go across the play and just can’t make the play, there’s just too much traffic to get through to get there in time . . . the KU quarterback just uncorks the ball and I wish we could have seen what the WR did to get so wide open, but that was seemingly a designed play that was executed very nicely . . . same cornerback that struggles with coverage? . . . OSU blitzes and the KU quarterback recognizes that he’s got one-on-one coverage on the outside, nice recognition and nice play . . . the KU defensive end and the linebacker gets sucked into the play and just doesn’t make a good play . . .
6. Coach’s Corner
Kansas head coach David Beaty discussed the upcoming game with Texas Tech. Let’s get to the offense, where Beaty said that it would be a team effort in coordinating the offense after Doug Meacham was fired.
Q. You said last week coordinating the offense would be a team effort. How will that look during the week and how will that look on game day?
DAVID BEATY: It’s no different than really it’s always been. During the week it really won’t change just a whole lot. I’m in all meetings, and I have meeting with regard to our offense, defense, and special teams. I always talk about it like it’s a rainy day. If something were to happen and one of those guys went down, and something happened and I didn’t have them here, we gotta make sure we have somebody there that can call it, right? So that’s been in place from the very beginning. In terms of our responsibilities, who is really bringing to the table the studies on this particular situation, that particular situation, all pretty much the same. Our communication up top, very rarely I haven’t seen it on a staff where guys don’t communicate with people about what they’re seeing, so that won’t be any different from that standpoint. It will all go right through me, but it will be all of us doing it together. I will be getting pertinent information from up top as well as on the sidelines.
And Beaty really confirms that he’ll be calling plays for the most part.
Q. When you take on calling duties is there any part of the game day thing that you have to give back, or does that work in with all of your other game day responsibilities?
DAVID BEATY: Well, obviously when you’re calling it, it’s going to put an addition on to what you’re doing, right? Obviously the game management part of it is something that will be more shared now. We’ve had that plan before. We’ve got means by which to be able to manage that as well, but to be efficient over there, it’s not one of the those situations where you can do it all by yourself. That’s why they allow you to hire people, right?
Beaty discusses the Texas Tech offense:
This opponent coming in, obviously one of the most explosive offense opponents you can ever play. Kliff (Kingsbury) and those guys do a terrific job every year. They are in the top five again, among the top in the Big 12 in just about every statistically category. They’re leading the Big 12 in time of possessions. That’s a new one. I haven’t seen that one with him before, but that’s certainly a credit to him. They always get a bunch of first downs, which gets him a lot of plays. Going into last week they had played 100 plus plays on almost every occasion. Last week they didn’t play quite that many plays. I think we have to do a good job of limiting that amount of plays with those guys, there is no doubt about it.
The Texas Tech defense:
David Gibbs does a great job on the defensive side over there as well. They take the ball away really well. They’re third in the conference. They’ve done that for two straight years now. They do a good job, a really good job. We’ve got to take care of the football against these guys, and we’re going to have to take the ball away and steal possessions against them. It’s going to be a great challenge going down there, but I know our guys are excited to go down there. We feel good about the game plan and the things we can do to take advantage of, so we’re looking forward to going down there and bringing back a victory.
And players that have stuck out to Beaty:
They’ve got some guys that stick out to me. They’re receivers are all good. All of them can go. The Wesley kid is the leading receiver right now, but I think all of them can do it. He’s got five touchdowns. He’s obviously a target that all the guys like. I think Dakota Allen is one of the better players in our conference. He is just a hard playing — I love watching him except for when he’s playing against me. He is a hard-playing cat, makes a lot of plays for them. Another guy that’s not talked about enough is the Broderick Washington kid that plays D-end for him. He’s a problem. He’s a really good player.
Light a Fire: If T.J. Vasher can’t go, someone is really going to need to step up on the other side. I don’t think that Duffey and Dalton Rigdon is a good combination for either player. Duffey isn’t great at throwing receivers open and Rigdon doesn’t have a huge physical advantage over opposing defenders. This isn’t either one of their faults, it’s just who they are at this point. Kingsbury mentioned maybe looking to some other options are that receiver spot and I think it may be worth it to get a bigger body out there. Caden Leggett (6-1/185), the walk-on, isn’t that much bigger than Rigdon (5-11/170) and the other big option is Myller Royals (6-5/180), who does have the size advantage, but I don’t know where he’s at in terms of discipline since he had those brass knuckles in his car (and an expired license I think). An odd situation to get arrested for, but I simply don’t know if that situation plays into if Royals not getting playing time right now. Anyway, I think it’s an odd spot to be in, but the spot opposite of Wesley needs to be more productive.
Eraser Wanted: I kinda hope the light went on with Jordyn Brooks last week, who maybe had the best game of his career. And this isn’t to say that he hasn’t been good this year, because he has, but he was great against TCU, and with Kansas being a team that likes to run, he’ll need to be great again.
Needs Repair: I’d really like to see the running game get back on track. With a patch-work offensive line last week, I don’t know that the situation was optimal for having a dominant rushing attack. You may not remember this, but last year, Texas Tech ran for 313 yards on 52 carries against Kansas. I don’t think we’ll see 300+ yards rushing this week, but it would be nice to see the offensive line create some holes for a fully healthy running back group. I’d love to see 200+ yards rushing this week. Kansas gives up 177 on average and I’d love to see something in that range on Saturday.
Under the Microscope: The secondary is probably the one spot on the team that I think still needs to work. Kansas doesn’t have great receivers, but Kerr Johnson, Jr. (5-11/193) catches 82% of what’s thrown his way and he averages about 11 yards a catch, so if the Jayhawks throw his way, he’s almost assuredly going to grab it. Steven Sims, Jr (5-10/176) is the name that you know and he leads KU in catches with 26, but being the primary deep threat, he doesn’t have the catch rate that Kerr does. And maybe I’m setting myself up to be continually frustrated, if the goal of the defense is to keep things in front of them, which they should, then Kansas is likely to have chunks of yards. I’d just love to see better coverage from a group that I think is capable.
Tacos vs. Burritos Matchup of the Week: Pooka Williams Jr. vs. Dakota Allen – Pooka has been really good (I sorta like typing out Pooka), has 72 carries and 539 yards which is good for 7.5 yards per carry along with 4 touchdowns AND Williams has 11 catches out of the backfield for 89 yards. He’s a dangerous player and he’s most likely got the speed on someone like Allen, but the defense is really going to have to work to contain Williams and that starts with Allen making sure that Williams doesn’t escape to the outside and Allen will have to make sure that he doesn’t allow Williams to bust a run up the middle. Contain. Contain. Contain.