Looking back on week 1

To say it was a bad week 1 for of college football in the state of Texas would be a strong understatement. The only wins came against teams that are not at the level that allows much to be taken away from the game. We talked about A&M’s win over NW State here. TCU blew out Southern, Baylor smashed ACU, Houston beat Rice, and perhaps the most impressive performance came from North Texas beating SMU. Side note: UNT Head Coach Seth Litrell will be a household name very soon.

For insight on the UT loss to Maryland, click here.

Now for the debacle we witnessed at NRG Stadium… The supposedly defensive minded Texas Tech allowed 47 points and 200+ rushing yards in their 20 point loss to Ole Miss. To make things worse, McLane Carter left the game after what looked like a pretty bad ankle sprain early in the first quarter. So let’s break this game down, then we’ll talk about what it means.

First lets look at the offense. As soon as McLane Carter went down, I couldn’t help but just feel queasy about the situation. For starters, the kid earned the starting job in fall camp and you just hate to see his season take this turn so quickly. Not even to mention the fact that he was starting to find a pretty nice rhythm and the offense was moving along nicely. Once he went down, true freshman Alan Bowman was the next man up. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was a little disappointed to see Bowman get the opportunity over Jett Duffey. But all things considered, Bowman played about as well as could be expected. It’s important to remember that Bowman, as talented as he is/could be, was not a blue chip 5 star recruit ready to step in and lead a Big12 offense right out of High School. This was clear on Saturday. Kliff simplified the offense quite a bit for Bowman. Most pass plays consisted of screens and check downs. Obviously, the confidence in Bowman’s ability to test a defense down field is not yet there. But Bowman does deserve credit for taking care of the football, which will be a huge key to this offense all year. On a more positive note, I thought the running game looked great. It’s just unfortunate that Tech fell behind so quickly, forcing them to have to go to the air more often. The offensive line was getting a consistent push up front, and Da’leon Ward looked like a premier Big12 running back.

Defensively, week 1 was a gut punch for Tech fans. All off season we have heard about how good this experienced group will be. However, the inability to stop the big plays of Ole Miss, and the infuriatingly stupid targeting penalties forced Tech fans to go full cynic. A couple things here… 1. Obviously Ole Miss is extremely talented offensively, so fans shouldn’t have expected a shut out. But 47 points and countless big plays simply isn’t going to cut it. 2. I understand that playing DB in modern college (or pro) football is likely one of the more frustrating positions in sports right now due to the targeting rules. And I thought the call against Des Smith was a drastic example of over officiating. The targeting rule was not implemented to take plays like that out of the game and I’m not sure what they expect Des to do in that situation. Having said that, the call against Vaughnte Dorsey was 100% the correct call, and showed yet again that Tech often plays undisciplined football. Now, there’s only so many ways I can say that the defense allowed too many big plays and made too many mental mistakes… So lets talk about some positives. For starters I think Ole Miss was not only underrated going into this game, but I think they are likely more talented, offensively, than anyone else on Techs schedule outside of OU. In addition, I thought the defensive line showed glimpses of a potentially consistent pass rush. Broderick Washington and Tony Jones got to the QB a couple of times, resulting in either a sack or a hurry. The defense also stood their ground in the red zone on a couple of occasions. To summarize, the defense shot themselves in the foot too much too soon in order to have a good showing in week 1. It didn’t matter how improved they are, they were playing behind the 8-ball and could never fully recover.

So moving forward, what should we expect from Texas Tech this season?

Well first of all, I think it’s important to take a step back and contextualize what happened. Texas Tech was only a 2 point favorite, and they lost to a team that was clearly more talented than them. This honestly should not change expectations THAT much. This is and always was an average team at best. Tech fans can still hope for a couple of surprise wins this year that could lead to a 7 or 8 win season. I’m not predicting that, but this was just one game folks. Now is not the time to panic. Going forward, it will be interesting to see what decisions Kliff makes for this offense until McLane Carter is healthy. With a seemingly cupcake matchup in week 2 (Lamar), I would love to see both Bowman and Duffey get an opportunity at QB. Again, Bowman did as well as you could hope for against Ole Miss. But I think with Duffey, there’s a little more to hope for. I obviously could be wrong, and I don’t have the privilege of seeing how each guy practices. But I see no harm in seeing what he can do in game situations against a far inferior opponent. Defensively, just cut down on the mental mistakes. There are still playmakers up and down the 2-deep. They just need to stop targeting offensive players and getting kicked out of games. I expect the defense to be much better than what we saw last week. However, I am concerned with the offenses ability to test secondary’s down field. My fear is that they rely too heavily on Ward and the run game, and any time they have to play from behind the offense will be stagnate. We’ll hope that’s not the case. But assuming it is, I would advise Tech fans to keep tabs on North Texas this season. I have a feeling Seth Litrell is someone we will want to get to know.

 

Stay tuned for week 2 predictions…

 

-Josh

 

 

Texas is (not quite) back…

*deep breath*

Now to process what happened last Saturday.

My immediate thoughts that crossed my mind when communicating with my father and my best friend were filled with lots of anger and words that can’t be written on here. LOL

But with that being said, it has been roughly 72 hours for me to digest all that occurred.
Am I still upset? Very much so.
Should we have won that game? Without a doubt.
Did we have plenty of opportunities to win that game? Yes we did.

I’m not going to spend too much time venting on here because I could write my thoughts for days. I will however comment on some key things that should be cleaned up to achieve the goal/prediction I had for us this season. (I had Texas going 9-3, which now has shifted to 8-4)
So I’m sure people are going to call me crazy for predicting Texas going 9-3. But before last Saturday I honestly think that it was extremely possible. With most (outside of OU, which is neutral) if not all of our key games this year being at home, I thought we had a very solid chance to finish 9-3. Now obviously that still isn’t out of sight. But there’s plenty of things that need to change in order for that to happen.

First: I believe that play calling and personnel have to find a rhythm. The one drive that comes to mind is Maryland being up 24-7 and Texas responding after a Maryland TD by the best drive of the day. It had all the fluidity, pace and execution you would want in a drive. Personnel wise, I believe that Tre Watson and Keontay Ingram should both be touching the football out of the backfield at least 10-12 times a game. They are hands down the best two RB’s we have on our roster. Why not use them? Ingram didn’t have a carry, or even touch the field after that drive I spoke about. Which was with 6 min left in the 2ndquarter….This is UNACCEPTABLE. In a game that you need big plays to be made, you need your big time playmakers out there. I don’t care what age/grade/classification the kid is. The BEST talent and BEST players need to be on the field.

Second: Trust the Sam Ehlinger process. Obviously, the kid earned the job over the offseason and fall camp. If the coaching staff believe that he is our best option to win at QB then I trust them. They are the ones that get paid millions of dollars to make those decisions. There’s plenty more that goes on behind the scenes than just what we see on Saturdays.  Ehlinger is a proven winner. He has the ability to gather the troops around him and battle. I’m not saying Buechele doesn’t have those capabilities, but I personally love watching Ehlinger. If the play calling can find some consistency and fluidity, then I believe he is the right guy.

Third: The defense has to clean it up in order to get back into the high-quality defense we know and love. Too many mental mistakes. There were still some physical mistakes, but I saw more mental mistakes than physically outmatched. Whether that be blowing a coverage for a wide-open touchdown or a roughing the passer/pass interference penalty. I can say we won’t see another offense like Maryland’s the rest of the season. I believe our defense (personnel wise) is built more to stop a Big 12 offense (spread style). In due time we will hopefully see the athletes that we’ve been drooling over seeing. We saw glimpses of those guys on Saturday. Caden Sterns and Brandon Jones roaming the secondary at the safety position for years to come will be fun to watch. If Omenihu and Hager can exert their presence on the edge and let Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler fly around to the football, then this defense can be really good. It takes all 11 guys doing their respective jobs to be successful.

Lastly: This is for the fans. I know we all crave and want that 10+ wins and National Championship contender Texas Longhorns to be back. But here’s a news flash, it indeed does take time to get back there. We are still dealing with the ending of the Charlie Strong era recruits and just now beginning to see Tom Herman’s first full recruiting class. I am guilty of this to the extreme. I am sick and tired of seeing 6-6 or 7-6 at the end of every year. But I know that it will change. Changing a program’s culture and feel takes plenty of time. Let Tom Herman and the staff do their jobs and just sit back and please enjoy watching a program that was once at the top of the mountain fight their way back from the ashes.

 

*exhale*

 

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” Plato

 

 

Hook ‘Em

 

-Ozzie

 

Story Time: Something must be done!

Take a break from football while you wait for the UT vs Maryland game to restart after this rain delay. I’ve got a story for you.

Alright, I realize I just started this blog and hardly anyone outside of my immediate family and a couple of friends even care about it. I know of a handful of folks outside of my circle that have checked it out, told me they liked it and committed to keeping tabs on us. So I understand it may not be smart to start blogging about anything outside of sports when the only reason anyone has viewed the page is because they want to read about sports. But at the end of the day, I am a normal American doing my best to contribute to this society, and when I experience something as absurd as what I experienced today… I will not #sticktosports! So here’s the story…

As some know, in addition to being a full time student I coach football part time at a small private school. Yesterday’s practice was especially hot. There was little to no shade and I forgot to wear a towel under my hat to protect the gross white skin on my neck from that jerk we call the sun. So after about 4 hours of coaching both the Jr High and High School teams, I decided go take a dip in my parents small swimming pool. I get there, cool off in the pool for about 20 minutes then head inside to chat with my mom. Soon after, my dad walks in and asks me to go turn off the water hose outside. Because I respect my father, I ignored the fact that he very easily could have done this himself, and did what he asked. What I saw during my short journey to the side of the house was nothing short of preposterous. I step on the front porch, look up and see about 6 or 7 wasps hovered around the porch light. I think to myself “wow, thats a lot of wasps!” For those who do not know, I HATE wasps, bees, hornets, really anything that can fly and sting (or bite or whatever those evil pests do). So I quickly made my way past them. I then walk past the two bedroom windows, and I kid you not, I saw 1 million wasps! Many of which have made their way inside my poor little brothers window and are hiding like little stealth masters behind his blinds. So what did I do? Well first I turned off the water hose because, again, I respect my father. But then I went inside and prepared for war! I put a hoodie on (bugs like fair skin, gotta protect the arms), I grab a fly swatter and a can of some spray thats about to rock these little demons world. I yell to Pop and instruct him to do the same. We walk outside and give these bugs history lesson. Topic: August 6, 1945, Hiroshima! Long story short, we displayed team work the likes of which could only be matched by the greatest sports duos in history. We were Jordan and Pippen, LeBron and Wade. At one point one was coming at Dads face, he gave it a spray and slowed it down, I reared back, gave an Altuve-like leg kick, and buddy let me tell you that bug would have left any stadium in the majors! We must have set some sort of record for wasps killed in 20 minutes. Also, we killed about 15 more that were hiding in my brothers window sill. Obviously, we had to dispose of those bodies. So I scooped them up on the fly swatter, dropped them in the toilet and peed on them. Why? Because screw wasps!

So that’s the story of how I learned that east Texas has a wasp problem. And also how I came to the decision that I will be moving to another region of Gods chosen state as soon as I graduate college. Of course no matter where I go, it will be inside these state lines. I don’t care how many demon bugs I have to kill, #TexasForever!

Season Previews: Texas A&M, TCU, and Baylor

Obviously I am a little late on Texas A&M here as they started their season Thursday night in blowout fashion over Northwestern State. But thankfully nobody will be surprised by that outcome and there is still much to be learned about the Aggies in 2018. So let’s get into it. In addition to A&M, we’ll preview TCU and Baylor. Stay tuned for UT coverage later this weekend.

Texas A&M-

The Aggies are coming off of a disappointing 7-6 season that lead to the firing of Kevin Sumlin. Although it was a tough season, Aggie fans are hopeful that the new coaching staff will end the streak of underachievement in College Station. Jumbo Fisher takes over and has as good of a resume as Aggie fans could have hoped for. It’s rare that coaches who have achieved what Jimbo has achieved make lateral moves, so Aggie fans should be thrilled with the hire.

Thursday we found out that Kellon Mond beat out Nick Starkel to win the starting QB job. Mond had a nice outing, but the standout player on the offensive side was returning stud RB Trayveon Williams. TW tallied 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. A fun development was the emerging TE usage that A&M fans haven’t seen in years. TE Jace Sternberger pulled in 5 catches and 2 touchdowns. Defensively, it’s tough to really gauge what we saw on Thursday due to the far inferior opponent. But they do return 8 starters and I expect them to be improved this season. With a tough schedule, I think an 8-4 record is the most likely scenario in Jombo Fishers first season in College Station.

TCU-

For some reason, I think it’s easy to forget that TCU won 11 games last season. Offensively, TCU fans should trust that Sonny Cumbie will get the job done to some degree or another. This season, Shawn Robinson returns and should provide the best QB play in Fort Worth since Treyvone Boykin. They have a nice group of skilled players lead by Kevonte Turpin at receiver. As long as their offensive line holds up, this offense should be solid. Defensively, if you don’t trust Gary Paterson at this point thats on you. Without even really studying the roster I can tell you with confidence that they will have one of the 3 best defenses in the Big12. Having said all that, they do have a tough non-conference matchup with Ohio State, and I think the middle of the Big12 has all improved. Although the Horned Frogs may be a better football team in 2018 than they were in 2017, I think an 8 or 9 win regular season is the most likely scenario here.

Baylor-

Baylor is going into their 3rd season in the post-Art era. Looking back on it, I don’t know if there has been a quicker fall from grace both on and off the football field than what fans in Waco have experienced the past few years. Although fans in Austin, Lubbock, Fort Worth, and College Station will tell you Baylor is right where they belong, Baylor fans have grown to expect good football. In Matt Rhules 1st season, that is not what they got. This season they return talented QB Charlie Brewer to lead what should be a pretty good offense. Former Tennessee RB has transitioned to WR at Baylor and folks have been raving about him during fall camp. They return 8 starters from a 2017 defense that really struggled. But that experience should lead to a slight improvement. Overall, I like Matt Rhule but the fit still seems strange to me. Like I mentioned above, I think the Big12 will be tough this year and the only conference game they should be favored in will once again be Kansas. I think they avoid the bad non-conference losses this year and win 3 or 4 games.

TRADE ALERT: Rockets trade Ryan Anderson to Phoenix for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight

 

Chalk this up as news I did NOT expect to see… The Rockets have been shopping Anderson since last offseason in hopes of shedding his massive 18mil per year salary that does not expire for another two seasons. We knew that in order to move him the Rockets would have to sweeten the deal, likely with a 1st round pick. However, Daryl Morey worked his magic once again and in stead sent recent 2nd round draft pick De’Anthony Melton along with Anderson. The return is interesting to say the least. The Suns are sending back combo Guard Brandon Knight (and the two year/30mil left on his contract) and athletic forward Marquese Chriss. Initially, it’s hard to see where either guy fits in the rotation. Brandon Knight could be a solid backup to Chris Paul and will likely be used primarily to decrease the load on Paul in the regular season. However, it’s difficult to see him taking meaningful back court minutes away from Eric Gordon, Paul, or (obviously) James Harden. Chriss on the other hand could very well play a large role under Mike D’Antoni, but I wonder where and how he will be used. He’s not a shooter, so on the surface he seems like a perfect fit as Clint Capela’s backup. Nene is old and was not particular good last season, so there could be a need there. However, the Rockets did sign 2017 draft pick Isiaih Hartenstein earlier in the offseason. Hartenstein is a skilled big man that can stretch the floor pretty well. The other option would be starting Chriss at the 4 and sliding PJ Tucker back to Small Forward. This would obviously mean Melo comes off the bench, and it’s still unclear whether or not he’s okay with that role. But the defensive potential with Chriss and Tucker at the forward spots is pretty enticing.

Whether or not either new addition plays a major role in the upcoming season, Daryl Morey was able to shed salary and add two potential rotation players without giving up a draft pick. That’s impressive. Big picture though, the Rockets were already title contenders. While this move does improve the roster, I don’t think it moves the needle much for them. When you have a roster that’s good enough to win a championship, the next step is becoming prohibitive favorites. I do not see this move making the Rockets that. What it does is add balance to an already championship quality roster.

Season Preview: Texas Tech

kingsbury

It’s hard to believe that Kliff Kingsbury is now 39 years old and entering his 6th season as the Head Coach at Texas Tech. He accepted the Head Coaching job at his alma mater with tons of momentum, but the combination of bad hires, awful defense, and bad luck both on the field and the recruiting trail has Kliff firmly on the hot seat entering the 2018 season. For Tech fans, you could say Kliffs entire tenure has been a big “what if.” What if Kliff had hired David Gibbs as his Defensive Coordinator in stead of Matt Wallerstadt when he took the job in 2013? Would Tech have fielded a defense competent enough to do the Pat Mahomes era justice? What if Jerrett Stidham never de-comitted? Assuming he stayed at Tech as Mahomes’ backup, he’d be entering his second year as the starter in Lubbock. While these are factors, the fact remains that through his first five seasons in Lubbock, Kliff simply hasn’t gotten the job done. At least not yet.

Texas Tech entered the 2018 fall camp with a QB competition between junior McLane Carter, sophomore Jett Duffey, and true freshman Alan Bowman. While a starter has yet to be announced (don’t expect an announcement from Kliff), most expect McLane Carter to be the guy leading the Red Raider offense Saturday morning against Ole Miss. Carter made his first and only start last season in Austin. He struggled for 2.5 quarters and was replaced by Nic Shimonek, who started every other of the season. Carter doesn’t have the raw talent of the other QBs competing for the job. Jett Duffey is a dual threat playmaker with tons of speed and athleticism. Alan Bowman is prototypical Texas Tech QB. He’s a big kid with a strong arm, he’s primarily a pocket passer, but has enough athleticism to scramble if he has to. However, Carter is a plus athlete and throws an accurate ball. And while his arm strength looked below average against Texas last year, I don’t think it’s fair to judge him off of just one game. If McLane has won the job as expected, its safe to assume its for one main reason, decision making. In the Big12 conference, a team that can take care of the ball has the advantage. In such high scoring games, one lost possession can cost you a game. Its rare that Texas Tech starts a game manager at QB, but thats likely what McLane Carter is. And although Kliff is firmly on the hot seat, I think he has earned the benefit of the doubt as far as the QB position is concerned. As far as the rest of the offense goes… The offensive line returns all of its starters and should be solid. Deleon Ward is back at RB after a disciplinary redshirt season in 2017. He’ll likely split carries with Tre King, who proved formidable last season. At WR, expect to hear a lot of new names. Led by TJ Vasher (shout out Wichita Falls), I expect enough guys to step up and make plays. Some other names to look for at WR are Zack Austin, Seth Collins, Ja’deion High, Antione Wesley, Dequan Bowman, Kesean Carter, and Dante Thompson (TE).

The main reason that it just might make sense to go the game manager rout at QB is something that fans in Lubbock aren’t used to… For the first time since before the Air Raid era, the strength of this team might just be its defense. David Gibbs has proved to be one of the best DC’s in the conference and this is the first season since he arrived in Lubbock that he has a fair amount of depth at every level of the defense. Tech has 11 returning starters and even more returning contributors. The defensive line looks solid at every position. Inside, Broderick Washington and Preston Gordon are expected to start, with big Joe Wallace, who had a nice freshman season in 2016 and redshirted in 2017, getting significant playing time as well. Wallace may be the most talented of the group and I would be surprised if he’s not one of the main contributors on the line this year. On the ends, the combination of Eli Howard, Kolin Hill (OLB), Tony Jones (OLB), Lonzell Gilmore, and Nelson Mbanasor will hope to get a consistent pass rush. Whether or not they can do that is probably the biggest question mark on this defense. Tech plays the majority of their defensive snaps in Nickel, which means they typically only have two true Line Backers on the field together. That group is the strength of this defense though. Jordyn Brooks is coming into his 3rd year starting at Tech. Rico Jeffers played really well as a freshman last year and will get plenty of playing time this year as well, either as the 3rd true LB on the field in the base defense, or rotating in as Brooks’ backup in the Nickel package. The other starting Line Backer is, in my opinion, the key to this Tech defense. Dakota Allen is in the conversation for best LB in the Big12 and is a real candidate for Big12 DPOY in 2018. These three Line Backers are the most talented group I’ve seen in my 15 years following Texas Tech football. In the secondary, Gibbs has a handful of guys that will rotate in and out. Jah’Shawn Johnson is back for the last season of what has seemed like never ending career, he’s a 5th year senior that has been a consistent playmaker for this defense for the past 4 seasons. Also getting playing time at Safety will be Vaughnte Dorsey, Thomas Leggett, and recent UT transfer John Bonney. At the Corners, expect to see 5, maybe 6 different guys out there. Names to watch are Demarcus Fields, Des Smith, Douglas Coleman, John Davis, Adrian Frye, and Quincey Addison. The last piece of this defense came out of nowhere last season. Justus Parker walked on and eventually earned playing time as a Nickel Back. Parker was one of the best defensive playmakers in the conference by the end of the 2017. Expect to see him all over the field this year.

It goes without saying, this is a crucial season for Kliff Kingsbury. He finally has a defense talented enough to compete in the Big12. All he has to do is make sure this offense even sniffs Texas Tech standards. They don’t necessarily need to score 45 points a game, but this is still Texas Tech! This is still a Kliff Kingsbury offense. In order to return to Texas Tech for a 7th season, I believe Kliff needs to lead this team to an 8-4 regular season. I think thats an attainable goal. But with a tough non-conference schedule (Ole Miss, Houston) it’s no guarantee. A lot depends on QB play. If McLane Carter (or whoever starts) can lead this offense to reach the standards at Texas Tech, I think they reach 8 wins. However, if the QB cannot take care of the ball consistently, or if the defense hasn’t taken that step that I believe they have… It could be another 6 win season.

 

BONUS- In case you need a reason to root for Kliff…

CFB Playoff Prediction.

I have tried to predict these every year since the beginning of the playoff system. Some years have been decent for me, I think I have gotten 3 out 4 right once or twice. Last year though… Yikes! I did correctly predict Clemson and Alabama would return to the playoff once again. However I did not predict either would make it back to the Title game. See, this is an absolute crap shoot. Nobody knows whats going to happen outside of a couple cases (those cases are typically Clemson and Alabama). Because of this fact, I always pick one team to come out of nowhere, shock the CFB world and reach the playoff. Last year, that team was Penn State. I actually didn’t think that would be much of a surprise, but friends of mine laughed at me when I told them that Penn State would not only make the playoff, but win the Title. We were SO close to having the last laugh in this one. But it’s hard to have bragging rights when the team I predicted would lose to Penn State in the Title barely made a bowl game and had one of their worst seasons in my lifetime. That team was Florida State… So last year wasn’t great for me, but I’ve regrouped and I’m ready this year. So here it is, the 2019 College Football Playoffs will be….

1. Georgia vs 4. West Virginia

Yeah, I told you I like to pick one surprise team. WVU is that team for me this season. Will Grier will be a Heisman finalist, David Sills is probably the best WR in the country. There are some real questions on defense, but thats true for many teams on their schedule and I think they can win enough shootouts to go 12-1 and win the Big12 Championship. UGA is a much safer pick here. I think they will run the table, defeat Alabama in a de facto play-in game in the SEC Championship, and ride into the Playoff as the National Title Favorites.

2. Clemson vs 3. Penn State

Maybe I’m a sucker, but I still love this Penn State team. Trace McSorley will prove that they were more than just Saquan Barkley last year, I believe he will win the Heisman and lead Penn State to a 12-1 record after they defeat Wisconsin in what should be another de facto play-in game. Clemson seems to be a no brainer again this year. The ACC looks to be down a little bit, Miami will give them a tougher game in the ACC Title game than they did last year, but it won’t be enough. A 13-0 record will send them to their 4th trip to the playoff.

National Championship-

1. Georgia vs 3. Penn State

Georgia will need the break that comes between the conference championship and the playoff. Rested up and ready to go, they should not struggle with WVU in the semi-final. Call me stubborn, but I’ve got Penn State edging out Clemson in a classic, back and fourth shootout. So we will have an old-school matchup duking it out for the title, and I didn’t come this far to give up on Penn State here. Trace McSorley has drawn some Baker Mayfield comparisons this off-season, I think thats a fair comp, but Trace will do what Baker couldn’t and finish the job… I think! But honestly, I have no idea what will happen. Nobody does! That’s what makes College Football so special!