Kliff Kingsbury’s revenge tour heads to Ames, Iowa… Also I hate Ames, Iowa!

Don’t look now College Football fans, but we’re just about half way through the season. As sad as that is, this is where things either start to get really fun, or really miserable. For Tech fans, its unfortunately been the latter for the better part of Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure as Head Coach. In the final 5 games (6 for Bowl seasons) of each of Kliff’s 5 seasons as HC, Tech has a woeful record of 6 wins and 21 losses. That hurts me to type. Literally makes my fingers ache as I think about some of the losses this team has suffered over the years. Like each of the final 5 regular season games in 2013, after a 7-0 start and a top 10 ranking… We quickly realized that the backloaded schedule was the main cause of that 7-0 start, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating. I could bring up some of the late season losses in 2014, but that entire season was a dumpster fire. There was the 2015 blowout loss to Oklahoma, followed by a wild 70 to 53 loss to Oklahoma State (a game I was in attendance for). 2016 was an especially strange way to fall flat on our faces. After missing the game tying extra point, Tech lost 44-45 to the top 15 ranked Oklahoma State. Tech played really well in that game, despite the heartbreaking fashion in which they lost, it was reason for hope. Then they followed that performance up with what I believe is the most disappointing game in Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure, a 66-10 loss to Iowa State… Where else but in freaking Ames, Iowa! A place that, honestly, nobody cares about… But is somehow a nearly impossible place to win. Which brings us to Texas Tech’s Week 9 matchup.

Texas Tech comes in at 5-2, their best record since 2015. In 2015 they finished the regular season 2-3 and lost to LSU in the Texas Bowl, finishing with an overall record of 7-6. Simply put, that’s not good enough this year. Tech absolutely must finish this season the way they have started it, and that all starts with this game in Ames. The Cyclones are just 3-3 overall (2-2 in the Big12), but they have loads of momentum coming off of their 30-14 win over West Virginia. After a tough start to the season (1-3), ISU has won two straight in impressive fashion. Beating Oklahoma State 48-42 before the upset over West Virginia. This 2-week turnaround for the Cyclones offense came with the insertion of QB Brock Purdy. He, along with RB David Montgomery, have stabilized this offense and made them a legitimate threat to defenses in the Big12. On top of this new offensive development, Matt Campbell is one of the best coaches in the Big12, and their defense is always stout. In the two times Kingsbury has matched up with Matt Campbell, Campbell has coached circles around Kliff. Make no mistake, this Texas Tech team is not treating Iowa State as a 3-3 football team. And this coaching staff sure as heck will not be taking this game lightly. So far this season, Kliff has gotten over the Oklahoma State hurdle, he and the team proved that they can come from behind and show some fight in their close loss to West Virginia, and now it’s time for Kliff to exercise some demons against Campbell and the Cyclones. So lets dive into the matchup.

 

Tech’s offense Vs ISU’s Defense

The Cyclone’s defense is stout. They rank 2nd in scoring defense, 1st in rushing defense, 2nd in passing defense, and 1st in total defense. I feel comfortable saying that this is one of the 3 best defenses in the Big12 (TCU & UT being the others). The thing about this group is that no one player, or position group stands out above the other. They’re just solid at every level. They’re incredibly well coached. Having said that, they DID allow 42 points to an average Oklahoma State offense, so Tech can have some success if they execute the game plan well. This should be much easier with a healthy Alan Bowman back at the wheel running this high powered offense. Had he still been out, I would not feel great about this offenses chances to have success this Saturday. But after seeing Bowman back in action against Kansas (yes, I know its Kansas), I’m confident that Tech can score points against Iowa State. The offensive line has been solid all year long, even with some injuries, they haven’t really missed a beat. The RB spot looks to be a two man group right now with Tre King and TaZhawn Henry getting the vast majority of the carries. I wouldn’t expect huge numbers on the ground, but I do think they’ll be able to trust the run game. While that would have been the case even without Bowman, getting him back adds that world famous air attack that was missing with Duffey under center. Bowman has been able to establish every WR position each time he’s taken the field. Expect a heavy dose of Antoine Wesley, with that stout secondary of ISU’s, Bowman will lean heavily on his top target. If you’re looking for a barometer for Tech’s success during this game, look at the amount of WR’s Bowman can get involved in the offense. If he can consistently find Seth Collins and JaDion High in the slots, as well as TJ Vasher opposite of Wesley, that will equal success for this offense.

 

Tech’s Defense Vs ISU’s Offense

In fitting with the rest of this Texas Tech season, this is the side of the ball that I think Tech has the advantage. Yes, Purdy has been really good in his two games as the Cyclones starting QB. But I feel like we may be overreacting a bit to two good games by the kid. I got in a brief twitter exchange with the Barstool Big12 account about Purdy Vs Bowman… The person running this account seemed like he or she may have been a ISU student, or alum, or maybe just a fan, I don’t know. But they seemed to be confident that Purdy was the better player… After two games?? Nah, I don’t buy it yet. And if ISU is a top 3 defense, Tech is no lower than 5th. They rank 3rd in pass defense and 4th in pass defense efficiency. But what I think is the most important defensive statistic, Tech is 1st in the Big12 in 3rd down defense. In a conference that has high powered offenses everywhere you turn, the most important job of the defense is to get off of the field, and so far, no body has been better than Texas Tech at this so far in 2018. When you look at the schedules, I think Tech’s defense is just as proven as ISU’s. The key to success will be limiting Montgomery and getting off of the field on 3rd downs.

 

Prediction:

I started this blog taking about how much I hate Ames, because it really is a tough place to play, especially for Texas Tech the past few years. So by no means do I think this will be an easy game for Texas Tech. But all year I have said that this is a different Tech team. They’ll be ready for this matchup, and they’ll be thinking of the past two losses to ISU every step of the way. I think this one stays fairly low scoring, and Tech’s defense makes enough stops to get a huge road W.

Tech: 28

ISU: 17

 

GunsUp!

-Josh-

NBA: Houston Rockets Season Preview

houston-rockets-t3

Well folks, the absolute best time of the year is finally here. We have college football in full force, with UT threatening for playoff contention, Texas Tech seems to be on the correct side of relevancy for the first time since 2013, and A&M is in the middle of a promising season. We also have The World Champion Houston Astros in the middle of their quest to repeat and solidify themselves as the best team of this generation. And now we have the beginning of what should be an incredibly fun NBA season for the Houston Rockets. Brace yourselves, much like the NBA regular season, this blog may run a bit long, but it will be action packed, dramatic, and hella petty! Lets go!

Full disclosure, I am not just a Rockets fan. I don’t simply root for them. I live and breath Houston Rockets basketball! It’s honestly been a problem. I will prioritize watching Rockets basketball over almost anything. I rarely socialize with anyone who admits to being a James Harden hater (and there are many), even right now I am writing this blog in stead of studying for a test that I have tomorrow morning. By the time this is posted, I’d have already given a solid C effort on the test… But its okay because Rockets basketball is BACK!

So now that you know that about me, you really should not be surprised about whats to follow…

As soon as Chris Paul went down with what turned out to be a Grade 2 hamstring strain, I officially declared that there would be no 2018 NBA Champion unless that team was the Houston Rockets. Sure, Golden State went on to defeat the Cavs in what was quite literally a 12 on 1 matchup. LeBron is the GOAT, there’s no debating that. But even he could not overcome the star-power of GS, awful officiating (more on that soon), and his own teammates going completely brain-dead late in the only game they had a chance to win. But anyone who watched the Western Conference Finals knows (even if they don’t admit it) that it took a combination of 3 absurd oddities in order for the Warriors to get past the Rockets. 1. Obviously, the Chris Paul injury. He was the best player in that series, he proved time and again that he was not going to let GS win down the stretch of these games. Guys, games 4 and 5 were not even that close. 2. Games 6 and 7 were quite simply the worst officiated games I have ever seen in my 10+ years of closely following the NBA. It was a joke, GS was basically tackling defenders in order to get open 3’s, Harden got fouled 3 times on shots from behind the arc and not once did he his free-throws, I could go on and on… And 3. The only one that was actually the Rockets fault, the extreme aberration of going on an 0-256 (basically) from the 3 point line in game 7. And EVEN with all of those factors, the Rockets lead by double digits in the second half of both potential close out games! Even if I take off my red-tented goggles, it’s obvious that if even one of those circumstances go slightly more in Houston’s direction, they close it out and go on to win the title. But they didn’t, so the Warriors and Cavs played an exhibition series for the right to call themselves 2018 Champs*. I said it after game 7, and it has remained true, losing to that smug, elitist, soft, Warrior team in the Western Conference Finals the way that we did changed me. I will never get over it. I think about it at least once a day. The Rockets did something that NOBODY said they could do, they assembled a team capable of beating greatest team ever, and t was taken away from them by Scott Foster and a bad hamstring. The Rockets were the better team… But my gosh, how soon we forget!

If you’ve paid attention to NBA coverage over the offseason and leading up to the start of the new season, you would think that the Rockets were just some cinderella story that has no chance to match last years potential. Just yesterday ESPN dropped their first power rankings… 1. GS, 2. Boston, 3. TORONTO, 4. the little ole 65 win Rockets. A couple days before that, NBA TV’s The Starters debated on their show who posed a greater threat to the Warriors, the Rockets or the Jazz… The bloody Utah Jazz! Fox Sports’ Jason McEntyre (probably spelled that wrong, don’t care because he’s a complete idiot!) picked the Rockets to finish in the bottom half of the Western Conference playoffs… All this because of the loss of journeymen Trevor Ariza, and Luc Mbah a Moute. Now, I love Ariza as much as any Rockets fan, and Luc was a nice surprise last season. But acting as if these guys are irreplaceable is idiotic at best. Trevor Ariza missed 15 games last season, in those games the Rockets were 14-1. The one loss was the final regular season game when they literally signed dudes off the street to keep from playing the rotation guys. Basically nobody played in that game. Oh, and that 0-578 3 point stretch in game 7 was lead by Ariza going 0-11 himself. This is who the national media thinks is irreplaceable!? Now for Luc Mbah a Moute… Again, he was a nice player and a big part of the team for most of the season. But who remembers what Luc was doing during the playoffs? The answer is absolutely nothing. Coming off of a second dislocated shoulder, he was completely out of the playoff rotation. And who would like to tell me the state of Luc Mbah a Moute’s career before he got to Houston and apparently became James Worthy? I’ll answer that one too… He was a bum! Thats why Morey was able to sign him to a vet minimum contract. Once again, if you think that either of these guys’ contributions can’t be replaced fairly easily, your an idiot. Its just that simple. Maybe if Morey didn’t do anything to make up for these losses there would be a point here, but that’s obviously not the case. So with that said, lets look at the 2018-19 roster and talk about how this team can get back to the WCF and take what is rightfully there’s!

So far the focus has been on the loss of Ariza and Luc, but the Rockets also lost sharpshooting big man Ryan Anderson, as well as some fringe rotation guys like Tarik Black and Joe Johnson. Anderson was awful last season. When he went down with injury, PJ Tucker took over the starting PF job and the Rockets went to another level. He’s a good player, and he’s probably the nicest player in the league, so I will continue to root for him. But the Rockets will not miss him or his monster contract. Trading him was addition by subtraction… But is was not the only addition made by Morey this offseason.

The Rockets will replace Ariza with James Ennis, another journeyman wing who’s career has been a carbon copy of Mbah a Moute’s was before he came to Houston. Only difference is that he’s a better athlete, he’s already shown his ability to score in transition during the pre-season. He’ll match Ariza defensively, and be a mor constant threat on offense. Another minimum signing that’s going to look a lot better than some expected is the guy that will likely take Luc’s role, though he has a much different skill set. That guy is Michael Carter-Williams. MCW is another guy who has basically been a journeyman. His career started off hot, winning ROY. But that draft class was a joke, and he’s never been able to improve off of that season. With that said, he’s a really good athlete, better than average wing defender, and has shown an ability to get to rim at a high success rate so far in the pre-season. He will likely play more of a wing with the Rockets, as opposed to being primarily a PG so far in his career. The Rockets have more natural spacing in their offense than any team in the league, and while MCW is not a threat from behind the arc, he’ll be able to attack and create offense much like Shawn Livingston does for Golden State. Before we talk about Carmelo, the Rockets didn’t just get cap relief in the Ryan Anderson trade. They also acquired young big man Marquese Criss, and combo guard Brandon Knight. Criss seems like a great backup option for Clint, but I don’t see him cracking the rotation at this point. Knight is still dealing with a knee issue, and at this point its unclear what his role will be. At the very least, he should provide some nice depth at guard to help modify the minutes of CP3 and Harden during the regular season.

Okay, lets talk about Carmelo Anthony… Who remembers the narrative a year ago, after OKC pulled off the trade for Melo? All of a sudden the fact that Daryl Morey pulled off a masterful trade to get the Point god, all of the talk was about Westbrook, PG13, and Melo being the Warriors biggest threat in the West. Well Melo never found his role with that team, refused to come off the bench, and was a defensive liability to say the least. The Thunder struggled on their way to the 4th seed in the west, and that “big 3” ended before it ever got started. When that group got together last year, I said it reminded me of when Houston teamed up Scottie Pippen, Barkley, and Hakeem in the late 90’s, in that in a few years Melo would be long gone on and nobody will remember the fact that he played with the Thunder. Much like nobody remembers that Scottie Pippen played for the Rockets. I get that it might seem a bit contradictory to claim I was right about it not working out in OKC, and then claim that it will work for Melo in Houston. But it will, and here’s why. For starters, Melo has a clear role on this team. That’s already been proven to not be the case in Houston. In OKC, Melo refused to come off the bench. In Houston, he’s stated that he will do whatever he’s asked to do in order to help the team win, and when the Rockets were at full health during the pre-season, guess who’s been coming off the bench!? That’s right. Melo has shown more self-awareness and a “team first” mentality this pre-season than he did all year in OKC last year. Why is that? Because there’s a proven culture of winning with this group. Melo wants to fit in, and I’m confident that he will. Now, this won’t be Denver Melo, NY Melo, or even Olympic Melo. Expect to see a brand new guy in Houston, 6th Man Melo is unselfish and all about winning. With his role clearly defined, thats exactly what he’ll do in Houston.

We’renow over 1800 words into this and I have barely mentioned anyone that contributed to last years 65 win Western Conference Finalist team. Most of the guys that really mattered to that 2018 team are back. A couple of guys you may have heard of, the reigning MVP James Harden, the Point god Chris Paul, former 6th Man of the year Eric Gordon, the junk yard dog and leader of this defense PJ Tucker, and the best possible Center to fit with this group of Hall of Famers, Clint Cappela. Not to mention the best offensive mind in basketball Mike D’Antoni. The loss of assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik will be a tough hurdle to get past, but this team will still be fine defensively simply because of the leadership on the floor. When Chris Paul was asked about the defense during media day, he responded by saying anyone not willing to play defense will have to answer to PJ Tucker. Similarly, Gerald Green was asked about the losing a leader like Ariza. He answered, “Everybody knows who the leaders are. 3 and 13. Everybody else is going to fall in line. If they don’t fall in line, thats why I’m here.” Honestly, how can you not love Gerald Green. The dude would die for this team!

I say all of this to try and prove that this team, despite what the bums in the national media are saying, is better than they were last year. Will they match that 65 win mark again, I don’t know. But they will go after home-court again, and the roster is even more equipped to take down the Champs* this season than they were last year. Compare the rosters for yourself…

2017-18

PG: Chris Paul – Eric Gordon

SG: James Harden – Eric Gordon – Gerald Green

SF: Trevor Ariza – Luc Mbah a Moute – Joe Johnson

PF: PJ Tucker – Ryan Anderson

C: Clint Capela – Nene/Tarik Black

2018-19

PG: Chris Paul – Eric Gordon – Brandon Knight

SG: James Harden – Eric Gordon – Michael Carter-Williams

SF: James Ennis – Michael Carter Williams/Gerald Green

PF: PJ Tucker – Carmelo Anthony

C: Clint Capela – Isiah Hartenstein/Marquese Criss/Nene

Its not even really debatable… This roster is younger, deeper, and just simply better than it was last season. I genuinely believe that James Ennis will be an upgrade over an aging Trevor Ariza. Eric Gordon and Carmelo Anthony will be BY FAR the best 1-2 punch off the bench in the league. Someone I haven’t even mentioned, Isiah Hartensein is going to be a nice surprise at backup Center. PJ Tucker will do what he does. And most importantly, Chris Paul and James Harden are the two most hungry superstars in the league. They will be even better in their second year together. The narrative probably won’t allow for harden to win his second consecutive MVP, but rest assured he’ll be just as good if not better this season. Buckle up, this is going to be another fun NBA season in Houston, but this time it will end with the rightful team hoisting the Larry O’Brian Trophy!

Prediction:

Rockets get the top seed once again, going 63-19. Sweep Nuggets in the first round, take out the Jazz once again in round 2, and defeat the Warriors in 6 games to get to the Finals. In a rematch of the 1981 and 1986 Finals, Rockets Vs Celtics for the Title. Rockets in 5. Boston fans will just be getting over losing to the Astros in the ALCS when they’ll once again be sent home crying by the new Title Town. Lets Freaking GO!

Thursday Night Texas Matchup- Tech Vs TCU

Lets quickly preview tonights huge Big12 matchup between the Red Raiders and Horned Frogs.

Both team are coming off of a bye. Both teams are likely missing their starting QB. Both teams are 3-2… This is a massive game for both teams. Kind of a cross roads of sorts that will likely tell us the direction that both teams will be heading the rest of the season. TCU struggled against Iowa State after Shawn Robinson went down, but they were able to pull off the win. Tech, on the other hand, came storming back against WVU after Alan Bowman went down but were unable to finish off the comeback attempt.

Tech’s defense will have to start off much better than they have so fa this season when playing good competition. TCU’s defense is always salty, but if Tech can execute to their ability, they should be able to move the ball pretty well. While I like Tech’s chances to play well tonight, the advantage goes to TCU here.

Offensively, even if Shawn Robinson was healthy I would give Tech the advantage. With a week and a half to get Jett Duffey ready, I expect Kliff’s guys to be sharp tonight, starting with the new QB. I’m expecting a big game from Duffey.

Prediction:

These teams always play each other tough (with the exception of the infamous 80 pointer TCU put up a few years ago). I expect the same tonight. Nobody draws up defenses to stop the Air Raid like Gary Patterson, and I truly believe that Kingsbury is the most creative offensive mind on college football. But for tonight, I think Tech’s defense outplays TCU’s offense, gets a couple key turnovers and pull away late in this game.

Texas Tech- 35

TCU- 24

GunsUp

-Josh-

Texas Tech fans need a reality check…

It’s a bye week in Lubbock, so in stead of previewing the upcoming matchup we’re going to dedicate this whole blog to the West Virginia game, and all of the nonsense it induced for Texas Tech fans. Lets get started by talking about Texas Tech’s 42 to 34 loss to West Virginia.

The Game

What a wild game. West Virginia came our swinging with all they had. And they looked every bit like the playoff contender I feared they might be. Tech had no chance to stop them in the first quarter. Will Grier and Marcus Simms were in synch and they simply could not be stopped. It certainly didn’t help that the Red Raiders came out flat and unprepared. Defensively, they were on their heels and at the mercy of Will Grier. They weren’t getting any pressure on Grier, and the WVU offensive line was by far the aggressors. There’s no sugar coating it, that first quarter was bad. Offensively, it wasn’t much better. Alan Bowman was missing throws, receivers were dropping passes, and the offensive line was getting no push up front for the running attack. With a score of 35-10, it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse… Then Alan Bowman got absolutely hammered by two defenders, resulting in a collapsed lung and knocking him out for the rest of the game, and likely the next few weeks at least.

Jett Duffey came in on the final drive of the first half and forced a deep throw into coverage for an interception. All seemed lost. Then things changed in the second half… I don’t know what changed, but the Texas Tech defense didn’t allow another point to the high powered offense. They started to get pressure on Grier, the coverage tightened up, and the run defense was solid.

Obviously, a score of 35-10 at the half means that both the defense AND the offense was really bad in the first half. But Kliff Kingsbury adjusted on the fly and changed his gameplay altogether. Jett found a nice rhythm, and we started to see that juice we have all been hoping to see out of Duffey. The backup lead an incredible comeback, highlighted by an unreal, Lamar jackson-esque 4th down scramble that lead to a TD and cut the lead down to just 8. Unfortunately, after another big stop by the defense we saw the reason Jett had not yet proved worthy of a starting position. Driving down the field to potentially tie the game and send it to overtime, Jett lobbed up a duck for the WVU defense. The DB picked it off and took it to the house, ending the comeback right then and there. All of the great plays made by Jett leading to that moment were forgotten immediately, and we were left with the image of that gawd-awful interception.

Addressing The Fans

It was a gut-wrenching loss, for sure. But the reaction by Texas Tech fans since the loss, and quite frankly during the game, was an embarrassing display of their (our, I guess) lack awareness about what is and is not acceptable for this program in 2018. I have 3 major complaints for my fellow Texas Tech fans…

First: We all know that Kliff is on the hot-seat. But apparently some Tech fans don’t know why…  Well, it’s because in years 2013-2017, Texas Tech would have lost that game 58 to 17. But thats not what happened last Saturday. In stead, we saw a team fight back and come one drive away from completing what would have been a historic comeback. That, to me, is a huge positive and shows real progress. But for some reason, many Tech fans believe that loss was the last straw… THAT was the game that made some believe that a change must be made. I mean, did we expect a Big12 Championship the year after going 6-7? Why does a TD loss to a top 10 team cause such outrage? I realize the first half was bad, but football is a 4 quarter game. I have been as critical as anyone when it comes to Coach Kingsbury, but for THIS to be the game that some fans consider unacceptable… Thats ridiculous! Now, if they have a repeat of that first half against a team thats inferior (ISU, KSU, Bay, KU) then we have some real issues. We simply have to let this season play out. I believe there are many signs to point to that indicate that this is a different team than past Kingsbury teams. One bad (although it was really bad) half does not outweigh the positive steps I have seen this year.

Second: Yes, Jett Duffey throw a horrendous interception that ended any chance at completing the comeback. But how quickly we forgot that we have no chance to win that game without him. Honestly, I shouldn’t be surprised at this point. Its been the same bull crap narrative surrounding Jett all season (including fall camp). Theres this notion that he doesn’t understand the offense because in his total career of 3 quarters of playing time, he sometimes misses a read. Guess what Tech fans, most guys don’t really learn how to play QB in major college football until they get a decent amount of experience. The response is obviously, Alan Bowman. Well a couple points there. 1. Bowman is an outlier. The kid has gotten off to a better start than just about any true freshman QB I have ever seen. 2. Even Bowman hasn’t been perfect. He got away with some really bad decision early in the OSU game. But guess what? Thats okay! Because he’s a true freshman and the good FAR outlays the bad right now. But if Duffey had made those throws, Texas Tech twitter, RedRaiderSports.com, and fans at home would all be yelling about how careless he is. I don’t know why its this way, but Bowman gets a benefit of the doubt and Duffey doesn’t. Not from fans and not from radio hosts in Lubbock. Jett will very likely get the start against TCU, and I cannot wait to see what he does. I think he’s going to really show out, and depending on how long Bowman is out, this QB situation could get interesting again.

Last. Lubbock, what the heck happened to you!? You used to be known as the toughest fans in the Bug12, now you empty out The Jones at halftime!? Come on, be better than that! This isn’t Waco, we don’t need to cover half the stadium in a tarp to make it look full. For my entire life Jones AT&T Stadium has been one of the best home fields in the country… Now, a couple touchdowns behind and we bail on the team… Be better Lubbock!

 

Stay alert for my preview of the TCU matchup early next week. And I will try to carve out some time to talk Texas A&M, Baylor, Astros playoffs, and some Rockets as well.

-Josh-

A Baseball Blog…

It’s October folks, that means baseball fans in the Great State of Texas are buckling up for another World Series run… Well some of us are anyway. Unfortunately for Ranger fans, the only excitement they get is the curiosity of who is going to be the next manager to live in AJ Hinch’s shadow. Astro fans, on the other hand, have been waiting for this moment all year long. As we found out in 2018, regular season baseball just isn’t all that exciting when it follows a playoff run like that of last years. As far as I’m concerned, the season is just now starting. So lets preview whats to come for the Astros, and the rest of the teams in the playoffs (not the Rangers, obviously).

AL

Like I just said, the regular season was a blur for Astro fans. The defending champs looked bored for most of the season, yet they still went out and nonchalantly set a club record for wins (103) and won their second consecutive AL West Title. All season we heard from the “experts” that the Red Sox and Yankees were the best teams in the AL. Then late in the season the A’s made a strong push to secure a playoff spot. During that time the Astros were missing 3 future Hall of Famers, which caused a mirage in the AL West standings. Oakland is a scrappy squad, but they were never (and I mean NEVER) going to take the division crown away from the Champs! The Yankees started out hot, and had a really good season, winning 100 games and securing the top wild card spot. But the early season narrative that they were a favorite over the Astros proved to be a truly stupid take. The Indians easily won their cupcake division, but we saw what happened this season when they tried to bark at the big dogs… The Astros put their mouthy pitchers right back in their place. The Red Sox proved to be the only real threat to the Astros American League supremacy, winning an MLB best 108 games. They have the likely MVP, whether it be Mookie Betts or JD Martinez. They’re really, really good.

But they’re not good enough. The Astros have the same lethal offense as they had last year. But their pitching is even better. Adding Garrett Cole to the rotation, and adding Hector Rondon, Joe Smith, Phil Pressley, and Roberto Osuna to the bullpen will give the Champs the edge over the Red Sox.

NL

I’m not going to pretend like I paid much attention to the crappy National League… But I did notice a few things. Like how the Braves apparently think it’s 2005. The Brewers seem like a really fun team. And despite winning their division, it seemed for most of the season that the Astros had broken the Dodgers. I guess the Cubs are pretty good again, and the Rockies are in the exact same situation they were in last season. The Nationals are losers. And the Cardinals missed the playoffs, which is always hilarious.

From what I have noticed, it seems like the Cubs and Brewers are the best teams in the NL.

So with all that said, here are my Award predictions, followed by my playoff and WS picks.

AL ROY- Miguel Andujar

Probably would have been Shohei Ohtani if he stayed healthy, or just played offense only all season… Oh well.

NL ROY- Ronald Acuna Jr

No real discussion here. Kid is a star!

AL Cy Young- Justin Verlander

Blake Snell probably deserves it, but I think the OG gets it based on respect.

NL Cy Young- Jacob deGrom

The guy legitimately may have had the best season in the past like 50 years, but the lowly Mets only managed to get him 10 wins. That is enough to drive a guy mad, give him the award out of pity alone. But he also deserves it.

AL MVP- Mookie Betts

Alex Bregman made a late push, and JD Martinez deserves mention, but I think this is Betts’ award this year.

NL MVP- Christian Yelich

This is a no-brainer. How about the Marlins trading the last 2 NL MVPs… lol

 

Playoffs/WS predictions

National League

NLWC

Cubs over Rockies

NLDS

Braves over Dodgers in 5

Brewers over Cubs in 5

NLCS

Brewers over Braves in 6

American League

ALWC

Yankees over A’s

ALDS

Astros over Indians in 4

Red Sox over Yankees in 3

ALCS

Astros over Red Sox in 6

World Series

Astros over Brewers in 4

WS MVP– Alex Bregman

It was a really fun season for the Brewers, but the Astros are the best team since the late 90’s Yankees. This is the beginning of a dynasty. If you aren’t enjoying this team, you should start to. Because they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!

Go ‘Stros, Rangers suck!

-Josh-

 

Kliff Kingsbury’s 2018 Revenge Tour has begun!

My previous blog was really just me airing out my feelings and giving some context as to why, personally, watching Tech beat OSU last Saturday was as much fun as I have had watching Tech football in a long time.

So now, lets dig into the actual game a little bit, then look ahead to a huge Top 25 matchup in Lubbock.

Offense-

What a show this group put on against the Pokes last weekend. You know, as sports fans we have a lot of opinions about matters that we really aren’t qualified to have. I am guilty of this big time… After the Ole Miss loss, and even after the 77-0 win over Lamar, I wrote on here that I still thought we should give Jett Duffey a chance at QB. I still fully believe that Jett has tons of potential, but Alan Bowman has a firm grasp on this job for the next 4 yours (maybe 3). The kid is a gamer. His numbers weren’t amazing against OSU, and he made a big mistake when he threw his first interception of the season where he simply didn’t see the safety and lobbed right to him. But maybe the most impressive thing I have seen from Bowman so far came the very next series. On a similar route to the one that was intercepted, he saw the safety coming from up top, put a little more juice behind the ball, and dropped a dime to Seth Collins for a big 1st down. He was completely unfazed by the hostile environment and made big throw after big throw all night.

The receivers were solid once again. Antione Wesley, TJ Vasher, JaDeon High, Zach Austin, and Kesean Carter have been as consistent as it gets. But they’ve also proved they’re able to make some pretty great plays. One hand catches, diving catches, jet sweeps, holding onto the ball after a big hit, and phenomenal down field blocking. This group of unproven guys coming into the season have been a pleasant surprise.

At RB, it seems to be a new guy every week, but they stepped up again. This week, with DeLeon Ward and Tre King still out with injuries, it was DeMarcus Felton’s turn to have a career day. The 5th year senior nearly transferred, but decided to come back for his last season and had a career night against OSU. He rushed for 130 yards and 2 TDs. These two true freshman deserve some credit as well. TaZhawn Henry gained 65 yards on 11 carries, and SaRodorick Thompson had his best game of the season with 57 yards and a TD on 13 carries. Do the math, that comes out to 252 rushing yards against a defense that held Boise State to just 64 yards the week before. It will be fascinating to see how the staff handles this group moving forward once Ward and King return. At this point, there seems to 5 guys that can be trusted in big games, but there’s only so many carries to go around. I would not be surprised if one of the freshman end up redshirting this season. Either way, this run game is legit.

Which brings us to the big boys up front. It’s time to start giving these guys the credit they deserve. The were more physical than OSU, they constantly got to the second level on run plays, and they protected the young QB extremely well. There really isn’t a weak spot on this group, they’re solid across the board and they go about 7 deep. The offensive line, in my opinion, is the strongest position group on this team.

 

Defense-

As I mentioned in previous posts, I thought this group as a whole was much better than the scoreboard showed against Houston. Of the 49 points they gave up against the Cougars, 21 of them really shouldn’t count against them. One TD came after a muffed punt near the red zone. One came after a completely illegal play that, had the refs thrown the flag, would have resulted in 3rd and 30-something in their own territory. And the other was on the final possession of the game when the outcome had already been decided. So with that in mind, the defense has been solid to say the least sense the week one no show against Ole Miss.

Pretty much every position group had some big plays against OSU. On the line, Eli Howard made a heck of a play to get a huge 3rd down sack. At LB, Jordyn Brooks and Dakota Allen were all over the field making plays. And in the secondary, we saw the impact that JaShawn Johnson has on the defense as the back end was much better. Adrian Frye continues to show up in big moments, grabbing his 3rd interception of the year. This is starting to look like a good defense, but they’ll have a huge test this weekend…

 

Moving Forward-

After a month of football, Texas Tech sits at 3-1. I think most would have taken that going into the season. However, seeing the way this team has played over the last 3 weeks, that Ole Miss loss is a little bit perplexing. I think if they were to get a “re-do” vs Ole Miss, that game would look pretty different. A blowout win over OSU is by far the most impressive win in Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure. Three weeks ago I was writing about how we need to keep an eye on North Texas and their HC Seth Litrell as a potential Kliff replacement… Now we’re talking about a Top 25 matchup in Lubbock with a chance at Big12 contention. That Top 25 matchup will not be an easy one, though.

West Virginia sits at 3-0 (wold likely be 4-0 if not for a game vs NC State being cancelled due to hurricane Florence). Their offense is at least as good as Techs. QB Will Grier is a legit Heisman contender, they have 2 or 3 studs at WR, a flurry of RBs that can do damage, and as always a very good offensive staff. Defensively, they’ve been solid so far despite some questions coming into the year. Last week vs KSU they only allowed 6 points. Obviously, KSU has not been good so far this season, but they are a Big12 team and holding them under 10 points is impressive. If you read my Playoff Prediction blog, you know that I am really high on this WVU team, so I expect this to be one of the best teams Tech will play this year. If Tech can win, we’re talking about a big time season in Lubbock. It will be interesting to see how they handle being ranked, but we all know how the Jones delivers for big games like this. Somewhat similar to Oklahoma State, West Virginia has had Tech’s number lately, winning the last 4 games… I have officially declared this season “The Kliff Kingsbury Revenge Tour.” We will see if he can get that revenge on WVU this Saturday. Remember, these two teams (for whatever reason) do not like each other. So this should be really fun! 11am @ The Jones!

techVSwvu

Guns Up

-Josh-

Why Tech’s win over OSU was so satisfying…

felton

For the first time since my Sophomore year of high school, the Red Raiders have defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys. I don’t know if I can put into words how frustrating it has been to watch the success of Oklahoma State over the past decade or so… But I will try.

With last weeks win, Texas Tech regained the lead in the all time series vs Oklahoma State. I would imagine that is quite surprising to most people considering the state of these two programs over the past 10 years. But simply regaining the series lead isn’t THAT big of a deal, not to me at least. To talk about why it was so satisfying to see the Red Raiders finally break the 9 game losing streak against OSU, we need to go back in time a little bit.

-2008-

The last truly great season for Texas Tech. Who could possibly forget that month long run of being a top 5 team in the country that controlled their own destiny for the BCS National Championship. That year Texas Tech made it to 10-0, and won consecutive games over #23 Kansas (63-21), the game everyone remembers against #1 UT (39-33), and a blowout over #9 OSU (56-20). Obviously, when we talk about the 2008 season, everyone will talk about the UT win and the OU loss. One was one of the greatest games in college football history and the other was a tragic melt down that still manages to creep into my head and ruin my day every now and then (anytime I hear Jump Around, I want to cry). But the part of the 2008 season that I will never forget is the Oklahoma State game. Coming off of the UT win, everyone (including Tech fans) were wondering how the team could handle being the favorites in a big time top 10 matchup. And they could not have delivered any more than they did that night. An absolute beat down over a really good Cowboy team. After that game, I was a cocky college football fan for the first time in my life. We were the second ranked team in the country and just had one more tough game to get by before we could cruise into the National Championship. Well, as we know, it all came crashing down after that. OU crushed our dreams, the next week Tech slipped past Baylor, then the season was capped off with a disappointing loss in the Cotton Bowl. It was a disappointing way to end such an amazing season, but I was still thrilled. Why? Because we had arrived. Mike Leach proved he could compete with the big boys and recruits were going to come flooding in… Then 2009 happened.

-2009-

Despite the fact that Tech needed to replace two guys that finished in the top 5 in the Heisman race, QB GrahamHarrell and WR Michael Crabtree, there was still some hype going into the season. Taylor Potts was supposed to be even better than Graham, we had a bucket full of offensive weapons, and a good offensive line returning. Defensively, they had established a nice group of guys that made a habit of making just enough plays. When you look at the record that year, 9-4 doesn’t seem that bad. But a disappointing loss to Texas A&M that year still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Against OSU that year, it was a 24-17 loss (and I believe this was the famous ‘fat little girlfriend” game for Mike Leach). Again though, OSU had a good team so it was not that big of a disappointment to lose that game. But the ending of this season is where these two programs began to go in different directions. ESPN analyst and world famous brat Craig James lead a successful witch hunt and got Mike Leach fired before the Alamo Bowl vs Michigan State. And just like that, everything was gone!

-2010 to 2017-

Both teams went 9-4 in 2009. Sense that year though, prior to this season Texas Tech had won 52 games, OSU had won 78. Texas Tech has played in Bowls like the Holiday Bowl, the Texas Bowl, and the Birmingham Bowl. While OSU has played in Bowls like the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl. Texas Tech has not had a winning record in the Big12, OSU won their first Big12 title in 2011. And worst of all the Cowboys have dominated the Red Raiders unlike anyone else in the league. The scores in each game: 2010, 34-17. 2011, 66-6. 2012, 59-21. 2013, 52-34. 2014, 45-35. 2015, 70-53. 2016, 45-44 (missed an extra point to send it to OT). 2017, 41-34.

It was almost as if stealing all of Texas Tech’s traditions wasn’t enough for the Pokes, they also stole all of the success that we had built towards under Leach. 2008 was supposed to be the foundation season for this soon to be consistent Big12 contender. Instead, it was where Tech peaked and where OSU began their consistent relevance in Big12 title races.

So that is why it felt so. freaking. good! to not only beat OSU, but dominate them IN Stillwater. It truly was incredible to see the true freshman QB Alan Bowman unfazed by the environment lead this offense so efficiently. To see this offensive line man handle the defense that was leading the country in sacks and had help Boise State to like 40 yards rushing the week before. And to see another surprise performance by an unlikely RB, this week it was Raymon Felton and SaRodrick Thompson. An unproven backfield to start the season now has 5 guys that the coaching staff can trust to carrie the ball in big games. And how about this defense! I mentioned last week that I thought they played better than the score indicated against Houston. Getting JaShawn Johnson back at safety was huge, and I expected a good performance overall, but I certainly didn’t expect to see them control the game the way they did. The Cowboys scored their 17th point with at around the 10 minute mark of the 2nd quarter, after that the Red Raider defense pitched a shut out. Simply could not ask for anything more.

The attitude on the sideline was incredible Saturday!

 

Because this blog was more about the context of how much fun that win was, expect a follow up soon going more into the details of the game as well as looking ahead to a huge top 25 matchup against West Virginia. And I hope to also get up some blogs about the rest of our Texas teams soon.

Check out our weekly UT blog here.

Guns Up!

-Josh-