I don't write these to try to change the narrative or dictate emotions, but only
to serve as a reconciliation of what really happened on the field. It's not
something you can capture in live action, which is why I believe coaches rely on
film before answering many questions about what specifically happened in games.
It stinks losing to your biggest rival no matter how I slice and the
opportunities to win were there. I thought Texas Tech played their guts out, but
in the end, one too many self-inflicted wounds cost them the game.
I'm mildly amused as the criticism of Neal Brown's play-calling because
the Red Raiders didn't score nine touchdowns, when Texas' plan was to burn Tech
early with big pass plays then shorten the game with the ground attack while
forcing Seth Doege and Co. to drive the length of the field on offense.
Of those nine drives -- excluding the shortened right before half series -- the
Red Raiders scored points on five of them and had a blocked field goal. I'm not
even going to be critical of Brown's red zone play-calling as player execution
was the primary aspect of the offense bogging down. I've noted the three
playcalls that were suspect:
- Second Quarter, 3rd and 10 from UT 16 - Run to Eric Stephens. This
seems like a head coach call to play for a field goal. Tough to say if that's
- Second Quarter, 3rd and 2 from UT 47 - Run to Kenny Williams. Don't
get the point of calling a timeout before that to try and get points on the
board, then calling a run. Plus, that was a bizarro waste of timeout to ice the
kicker if Tech was going to try and score. Then, Tech goes for it on fourth
down, Doege makes a great throw and Ward drops the ball.
- Third Quarter, two-point attempt - Try a low percentage fade route to a backup
player against the Longhorns' No. 1 cornerback.
So, really we're down to one play in which the Red Raiders' clock management had
made the call irrelevant anyway. On the other 69 plays, Tech managed 437 total
yards for an average of 6.33 yards per play, which would rank 25th in the
country. The Red Raiders' biggest issue was that Mack Brown fired
Manny Diaz at halftime of the Kansas game and they didn't get the same
junk unit Texas has been rolling out the rest of the season.
This was an offense that consistently drove the ball up and down the field,
continually burned the blitz and suffered three three-and-outs due to a dropped
pass, a sack and a lucky tipped pass by a linebacker on a would-be big play to a
wide open receiver. Washington State would beg for this offense right now.
Now, if you want to criticize the head coach for not rolling the dice a couple
of times in the red zone of a big rival game, I completely understand.
Tech also had four touchdowns (or likely) taken away by a phantom chop block
call and a non-reviewed completion, and then a dropped pass by the team's best
receiver and a holding call on a senior lineman. Like you, I would have felt a
little better about 42 points, but sometimes you don't get all the breaks.
Complain about Brown all you want, I guess, but if you're not considering the
factors above into your rationale, then you're largely suffering from
group-think. Maybe dock him for gaining a little too much confidence in some of
the zone running plays the Red Raiders burned them with, but also give him
credit for how many incredible passing calls he had on blitzes.
I thought Seth Doege played great live, but he played even better than
I remembered on film. He hung in the pocket in the face of blitzes and fired
strikes to the correct read for four quarters. And, on top of that, protected
the football. Great game by Seth and I just wish the scoreboard would have
worked out for him.
Kennimack Williams did everything he could, while Eric Stephens and
SaDale Foster chipped in with some key plays. I warned last week that the UT
defensive front still had talent and, when playing base fronts, are actually a
formidable unit. The Red Raiders weren't always setting them up with the best
blocking, but they left it all out there.
The game wouldn't have been as close as it was without Eric Ward on the
field, but when your quarterback lays a perfect ball up for you in a big time
game, you've got to make that play in this league if you've got the
responsibility of go-to guy. I know Carrington Byndom did a good job on
defense, but Ward has made much tougher plays than that in his career.
Otherwise, another good outing.
Darrin Moore was solid as well in the passing game, but less than
willing in blocking duties on a couple of the team's stalled run plays in the
red zone. Tyson Williams caught three balls and knocked someone into
the Iowa State game the remaining time. Love the way this guy plays football.
As far as pass protection goes, this was the best Tech has played against a
Texas team since I can remember. The Longhorns threw the kitchen sink at them
and there's no shame in
Terry McDaniel getting beat for one sack by
Alex Okafor. The run blocking continues to be an inconsistent endeavor
that prevents the team from beating a conference opponent with it. They had some
highlights in spots, but nothing reliable.
Le'Raven Clark is the exception and he has developed into the best
underclassman guard in the conference. I am somewhat excited for the
Jared Kaster Era to begin and I hope Tech gives him an opportunity for more reps.
It's amazing for a true freshman center to step in and look like he belongs. His
quickness and technique will provide us with an element
Deveric Gallington hasn't ever quite delivered. That's probably the number one
piece of the puzzle to improving the run game.
I've actually got a few more issues with the play-calling on this side of the
ball. Here is an excerpt from a preview I wrote for a Texas site:
"I suspect the power sweeps to Gray with Espinosa and a guard pulling should be
the bread and butter this week, if the UT staff has been watching the same film
I have. The key will be Barrett Matthews' ability to secure a hook block on the
Tech ends. A good gameplan would call for a minimum 10-15 reps of this play and
a solid play action/rollout package off it to take advantage of the run biased
defense Tech will most likely be playing on early downs. A heavy dose of jet
sweeps should also be in the cards to continually test the perimeter pursuit."
In summary, that is exactly how the Red Raiders got burned. The first play from
scrimmage and Johnathan Gray burns Tech with a sweep play for 26 yards.
Texas botches an end-around and the Red Raiders end up with a nice chance to get
them off the field in a 3rd and 14. The Longhorns are going to run one of two
plays: draw or screen. My neighbor agrees with me. It's a screen.
Art Kaufman calls a two linebacker blitz to bail UT out in what was arguably as
critical as any play the home team didn't make in the game.
I recognize that Tech doesn't have the option of stopping everything, but you
would think they could spare one safety to protect the team's depleted corners.
If you take out Gray's first run, the Red Raiders did a respectable job in run
defense until the last two drives holding him to 11 carries for 27 yards over
that stretch. The Longhorns had the same amount of punts as touchdowns, which
should still serve as recognition for the strides he has made with this unit.
Tech just looked worn down in the fourth quarter, but as a whole, I was pleased
with the physicality they showed.
Kerry Hyder and
Delvon Simmons have done their part throughout
the season and taking away the middle and this game was no different. The
Longhorns got to the Red Raiders a little on the last drive, but they were still
disruptive forces that limited offensive options.
The linebackers were either really good or really bad this week and there didn't
seem to be much in between. I thought Will Smith and
Terrance Bullitt both had some stretches of good football, but pulling linemen got
to their legs or blocked them out of UT's sweep play for the most part. I noted
Sam Eguavoen and
Zach Winbush each on one good play, but
didn't see much past that.