The most comprehensive Texas Tech preview on the game between the Red Raiders and the Longhorns.
I was having an email conversation with SARR about the status of Michael Brewer and what to think about his situation, especially getting snaps in practice and in the game. So I asked Michael Felder (@inthebleachers) via Twitter what the snap ratio is in a given week to prepare for a game and how that works. Felder essentially said that it depends on the level of experience of the starting quarterback will determine the number of snaps that a back-up quarterback receives. A veteran starting QB will allow a back-up QB to get more time, but a young starting QB will require almost all of the snaps during a given week to get ready for a game. Felder noted that with a true freshman starting, he couldn’t imagine that the back-up quarterbacks receiving much significant time during a week.
I know the prevailing thought has been that if Brewer isn’t playing then he must be hurt or Kingsbury must be mad at him and that this means that Brewer is going to transfer. Kingsbury has said for a while that Brewer is healthy, but he just hasn’t had the snaps available to him.
So I started to think, if Brewer was injured early in the fall practices then Mayfield and Webb were essentially splitting repetitions to get one or the other ready for all of those fall practices and then we know that Brewer didn’t see any time until the Kansas game, which was 5 weeks into the season. Thus, Mayfield probably saw the majority of snaps, or maybe it would be safer to say, the super-majority of snaps (over 67%) went to the starter, which means that Webb as the back-up ended up maybe getting what’s left, again, to get him ready in case Mayfield got hurt.
When Kingsbury said that he just didn’t have the reps for Brewer, I think he was telling the truth. Think of all of the time he had to invest in Mayfield and Webb because of Brewer’s injury. If Kingsbury didn’t do that, then he’d have marginally prepared quarterbacks that might not be ready for a game. Then, if you add in the idea that college programs don’t get to spend all day practicing, but the reality is that during the year, there’s not just a ton of time that the team gets to practice and you don’t get to monkey around and get a quarterback who has been the third quarterback for the better part of the season ready to start.
However, with 12 days to get ready for a game, I could certainly imagine a scenario where Kingsbury made a decision right after the Baylor game to get Brewer ready for the game against Texas and give him the majority of the snaps and let it roll. I know I’ve been winking about this for the better part of the week and I might have an indication about that, but we’ll see on Thursday night.
THROW THE FLAG
After having a good year to think about it, I’ve been trying to figure out what I dislike about the new "targeting rule" and my problem with it is the definition of what this rule means. Here’s the definition:
"no player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet" and that "no player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder."
I suppose that my problem with the rule is that it maybe doesn’t go far enough. The Ahmad Dixon hit against Jace Amaro was technically, a clean hit I supposed, but a technical interpretation would maybe mean that Dixon’s hit was in the head or neck area. Maybe my thought is that the thing that’s killing this game, more than anything, is that I’m afraid that this type of hit, although it wasn’t called, but Dixon’s helmet hit Amaro’s chin and caused a cut, which means that it hit his head. Hits to the head are going to ruin this game, and when I think that maybe the rule doesn’t go far enough, maybe any time that a defender’s helmet hits an offensive player’s head. I know that this makes me less of a football fan and this is something that I’ve been harping on for a good part of the year, which is that hits to the head going to ruin the game. The problem with interpreting a rule is that there’s a lot of grey/gray. My thought is that a helmet is used for protection, or at least, that was the original intent. Protecting the head on a tackle of another player. If all hits to the head are prohibited, then it would stand to reason, that these players would figure out that they just can’t do that and they’d adjust their game.
More than anything else, I think I worry about the brains inside of these helmets and these kids. Having a son, who is tougher than hell, I tend to think about these things more than I used to. He’s a smart kid too, remembers everything, remembers stuff from over a year ago, and I don’t ever want him to lose that other than a result of old age. So I’m trying to think of a way to save these brains inside of these helmets so we can still keep the game that we love so much as intact as possible. My suggestion is probably too extreme and I do understand it. Maybe we’ll never be able to keep hits to the head completely out of the sport.
QUESTION FOR THE CROWD
So what about you? Do you think the game needs to be changed to protect players from head injuries and if you do, how would you change it?
How about playing some freshmen. I don’t even know if I can really do this off the top of my head, but how many freshmen have seen time this year and this team still has won 7 games? I joke about this a bit below, but there’s only so many times that I get to write about "two true freshmen quarterbacks" and I think we all feel like Texas Tech has won despite that and it wasn’t too long ago that we marveled at Kingsbury to get Webb and Mayfield ready when they never really should have seen the field.
Baylen Brown, Davis Webb, Baker Mayfield, Justis Nelson, Dylan Cantrell, and Tanner Jacobson are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. And five of them are guys that I just didn’t see making significant contributions, but they are making significant contributions. I shudder to think about our projections and who we "thought" would see playing time and who actually is seeing playing time. I think I would have gone one for six, with Cantrell being the only guy that would have seen significant time and of the six listed above, that’s seen the least amount of time.
Mack Brown held his press conference on Monday, much like Kingsbury and he talked about the game.
On if he watched Texas Tech QB Baker Mayfield much and has he been impressed by what he's been able to do: I did. He's very, very good. I think everybody underestimated his ability because he just won games. I think too much was given to the system, credit to the system at Lake Travis with Michael Brewer and Baker both, because they do such a great job out there. It's difficult sometimes to separate just the next quarterback is going to be a good one at Lake Travis because they've played so well. You have to give Lake Travis credit. Give Michael and Baker credit. They've done a good job from Lake Travis to where they are now.
Brown also talks about how difficult it is playing in the Big 12.
On what the difference is in Texas Tech's first seven wins and their last four losses: Played better teams. When you start looking at it, you look at Baylor and Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Oklahoma. They had a real tough game with Oklahoma. After that, I'm sure got banged up some, discouraged. Quarterback issues where one has got hurt, have to move them back and forth. I think we're all learning that playing everybody in your league is difficult. A lot of people play easy teams out of conference, you can get four easy teams, beat them, and play some guys in your league and not have to play them all. Then you may catch one team down or one team that's just not any good, then all of a sudden you have six or seven wins on your schedule, and you're playing five times. That's not the way it is in the Big 12. You've got to play every week.
Brown talks about the change in offense.
On how the Tech offense has changed: It looks like the same offense. I go back to 2002 when Kliff beat us 42-38 right in the end. All those teams where Mike has, they come in and throw it, they throw it. You learn you better have some fresh legs rushing the passer at the end of the game. They may throw it 75 times. They don't care. Mike went for 14 fourth downs one night. One of them was on his own 30. It was a fourth-and-5. I thought nah. He made it. That's who they are. They're risk-takers. They're gun-slingers. What Kliff is doing is what we've come to know at Texas Tech. He's a perfect fit for them. He's got a great young staff. Those guys will do a great job.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat discusses slowing down Amaro.
On what the defense is going to do to slow down Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro: As far as schematics, we haven't really got into it. I mean, I can't get into that. We're going to make sure we got a guy on him (laughter). We'll make sure he's covered up. I mean, he's an incredible athlete. He's very fast. Tall guy. Same height as me. He can run. Basically a mismatch for any of the guys you want to put on him. You put a linebacker on him, he can run by them. Safety or a cornerback, he's big, he's hard to cover. We are just going to make sure we have somebody on him and tackle him as fast as we can.
QB Case McCoy talks about if Colt has given him any advice as a player.
On if Colt has given him any advice and what is the biggest piece of advice he's given: Yeah, I mean, Colt gives me a lot of advice. We talk often. In this area, in this game, he's wise. He understands it. He's played a lot of ball here. The main thing he says, just to keep your head on straight, keep playing ball. That's the crazy thing, is he understands where we are. He understands the opportunities still ahead of us. He understands its Tech and Baylor, two teams he's not fond of. He understands the way our coaches perceive these teams, the way our fans perceive them, how we feel about playing them. They've become two teams in our league that are way better than they were when he was here really.
This will be pretty interesting. Statistically, Texas has a pretty good pass defense, top 25. At least in terms of yards allowed. Of course, I’m starting to tend that this really doesn’t matter all that much because the Big 12 is becoming a rushing conference, less know for the passing exploits. And the teams that do pass traditionally, like Texas Tech and maybe West Virginia, have put up some really good yards, but haven’t been as high scoring offenses as we maybe hoped. At least that’s how I feel about the Texas Tech passing offense. Texas Tech is 22nd in scoring offense, but maybe my expectations would be that Texas Tech should be even better than this with a year with a quarterback that is a bit more seasoned.
Texas’ downfall defensively is the one thing that I don’t think Texas Tech does all that effectively. At least, I tend to think that Texas Tech is more effective rushing the ball if Beau Carpenter starts and plays heavy minutes rather than James Polk or Baylen Brown. Carpenter’s presence makes a significant difference. I’d love to see Texas Tech exploit what appears to be a relatively poor rush defense. The Longhorns have had terrific games and abysmal games, most recently against Oklahoma St. where they gave up over 180 yards and only giving up 109 against West Virginia. The last time that Texas Tech averaged 5 yards a carry was against Iowa St., where the run game was incredibly effective, but since then, it’s been an uneven performance. The running backs haven’t been a huge part of the offense and the quarterbacks have had their fair share of sacks to make this look even worse (except for Mayfield, he just can’t hang onto the ball).
Offensively for the Longhorns, I’d say that there’s no doubt what I think that they should do, which is just run the ball each and every play and do so until Texas Tech forced them out of the rushing situations. Even without Johnathan Gray, I’d expect the Longhorns to make the Texas Tech defense step up their play and do something about it. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are still plenty talented enough, they’re just thin at this position now, with Gray’s injury and Daje Johnson’s suspension.
From a coaching standpoint, I’m not sure what to do. Even some of the most hardcore Longhorn fans are disillusioned with Mack Brown’s coaching ability or run a program. So much of Brown’s success happened over 8 years ago with a national championship, and when Brown got back to the brink, he hasn’t gotten this program to the success that it once enjoyed. There’s a sterling conference record, but an embarrassing loss at the start of the year that no one, college football voters in particular, haven’t forgotten. It’s almost as if the public, voters and fans of the program, still holds that against the Longhorns. That’s probably unfair, but that’s life in Austin.
TTU Pass Offense vs. UT Pass Defense
TTU Rush Offense vs. UT Rush Defense
TTU Pass Defense vs. UT Pass Offense
TTU Rush Defense vs. UT Rush Offense
TTU Special Teams vs. UT Special Teams
TTU Coaching vs. UT Coaching
DIAL IT UP
Against Iowa St. and West Virginia, Texas Tech had 7 tackles for a loss and prior to that, other than the TCU game, Texas Tech was very much behind the line of scrimmage. Since then, Texas Tech has only averaged about 4 tackles for a loss. Against Iowa St. and West Virginia, this team had 4 sacks, 2 in each game, while over the last 4 games, this team has only managed 3 sacks. It doesn’t seem like all that much, but there is a significant difference between 7 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks a game versus 4 and 1. Texas Tech just hasn’t had the negative plays over the course of this 4 game losing streak and it has a lot to do with the fact that the teams are better, but I think to move the needle in this game, the defense has to put the Texas offense into bad situations.
Justis Nelson pretty much appeared out of no where, right? He wasn’t on my radar as a guy that could potentially even play or even so much start. And it’s not even so much as start, because that’s great and all, but how about starting at two different positions, safety and cornerback. That’s not too much to ask of a relatively un-recruited player. Nelson had two offers, Air Force and Texas Tech. That’s it. The book isn’t even close to being finished on Nelson, but if his game against Baylor is any indication of where he eventually lands, then that’s the definition of an unsung star who has put himself in a position to succeed.
I’ll keep this up through the rest of the year, but with one more 15+ yard pass and catch, the 2013 version of Texas Tech will pass the 2012 version with really two entire games to go. Doing this most of the year was an exercise of wanting to know if the offense was going to be more explosive in the vertical passing game than what we were used to and the numbers keep playing that out week after week. I think the 2013 version of the Texas Tech offense is more big-play oriented and that’s with two freshmen quarterbacks leading the way. This reminds me that I’m a bit sad as I won’t be able to write, "two freshmen quarterbacks," much longer.
Week 5: 25 of 15+ and 11 of 25+
Week 6: 43 of 15+ and 18 of 25+
Week 7: 53 of 15+ and 21 of 25+
Week 8: 64 of 15+ and 27 of 25+
Week 9: 74 of 15+ and 29 of 25+
Week 10: 82 of 15+ and 33 of 25+
Week 11: 86 of 15+ and 34 of 25+
Week 12: 95 of 15+ and 38 of 25+
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Make McCoy Win the Game: There are games where Case McCoy doesn't look all that pretty doing it, but he gets the job done. For almost the entire season, with wins coming against five Big 12 foes, including Oklahoma, McCoy was good enough. Again, he's not lighting the world on fire, but he's getting the job done. For the year, McCoy is averaging 60% completion rate and 6.5 yards per attempt with a less than stellar touchdown to interception ratio of 8 to 9. In fact, over his last 5 games, McCoy has had thrown an interception each game, has thrown all 9 of his interceptions and 6 of his touchdowns. Maybe the biggest difference between Texas and Texas Tech is that despite McCoy's turnover issues, the Longhorns still have only been on the negative side of the turnover ledger twice all year, against Kansas and Oklahoma St.
2. Neutralize the Malcolm Browns: All that DT Malcolm Brown has done is register 49 tackles from the tackle spot, with 8 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 4 broke-up passes and 2 quarterback hurries. If you're looking for a comparison, Texas Tech's Kerry Hyder has had 52 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass broken up and 5 quarterback hurries. Brown is the heart of the defense and he's really been quite outstanding for the year. Texas has had a rough go at it in terms of stopping the run and I think teams are very much paying attention to where Brown lines up and neutralizing him. Life hasn't gotten better as Chris Whaley was inured after the West Virginia game. RB Malcolm Brown has had to be the feature back since Johnathan Gray tore his Achilles tendon, again, during the WVU game, but he hasn't done all that much. Brown averaged about 3 yards a carry against WVU and Oklahoma St. and he's really only had two break-out games, against Kansas and Oklahoma, where he ran for about 120 yards. Other than that, Browns's been pretty quiet. Brown will have to get the majority of the carries, it's either him of Joe Bergeron, and that would be out of character for Texas.
3. Run Williams and Washington: The running game has to be an effective part of the offense and I don’t mean the quarterbacks really just running the ball, I mean forcing the Texas defense to make bad decisions about what the offense is going to is incredibly important. Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington didn’t feel like they were all that involved in the past handful of games. Yeah, they got touches and yards, but it just hasn’t been the same. Again, I go back to Iowa St. and West Virginia, where Williams had 120 all-purpose yards in each of those game, and while on the 4 game slide, it looks like about 60 all-purpose yards a game.
4. Utilize All Weapons: It seems like it’s been a while since every piece of the puzzle has been a weapon on offense. This goes to item #3 above, but really, it’s about the entire offense. And maybe this goes to what Kingsbury has said, that this team hasn’t played it’s best game and I do think that’s absolutely true on offense. Maybe this is just a product of having freshmen quarterbacks not be as varied as I’d like, but a guy like Bradley Marquez hasn’t been able to make a huge play in during this 4 game stretch. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I hope that all of the puzzle pieces get properly fit in this game.
5. Put All Nine Up Front: I keep thinking about how Texas can burn Texas Tech defensively and other than WR Mike Davis, is there a receiver that scares you defensively? I know that WR Jaxon Shipley is a threat, but averages just over 10 yards a catch, not world-beater. WR Marcus Johnson hasn’t done very much this year other than have an outstanding game against TCU. So, the question is which cornerback do you put on Davis, I’m thinking Nelson because Jones is pretty good support against the run and give that cornerback safety help and put everyone else at or near the line of scrimmage and you lose this game based on the premise that Case McCoy will have to beat you.
FINDING YOUR WAY
Again, another disappointing box score, especially when you consider how quickly Baylor climbed in this game. Baylor scored 3 touchdowns in about 3 minutes of game time. The turnovers, the penalties, the field position and the swing points continue to make a difference. As a reminder, the swing points are points off of special teams touchdowns and getting the ball with awesome field position. Baylor capitalized significantly and quickly.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
If there was a national trophy for trolling Texas Tech, the Mackey Award would be a runaway winner.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 25, 2013
#WRU RT @davidubben: The Big 12's top three leaders in receptions all play for Texas Tech. (Amaro, Ward, Grant)
— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) November 18, 2013
Fall Practice: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year.
Week 1 vs. SMU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - day to day; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - day to day.
Week 2 vs. SFA: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - out for game; OLB Andre Ross (leg?) - day to day.
Week 3 vs. TCU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - out for game; OLB Andre Ross (leg?) - out for game.
Week 4 vs. TXST: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game.
Week 5 vs. BYE:
Week 6 vs. KU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; OG Alfredo Morales (knee/ankle) - out for game.
Week 7 vs. ISU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; OG Alfredo Morales (knee/ankle) - out for game; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out during game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out during game.
Week 8 vs. WVU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Jakeem Grant (head) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; IR Sadale Foster (hip) - out for game.
Week 9 vs. OU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game.
Week 10 vs. OSU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; S Tre Porter (undisclosed) - out for game; OLB Terrance Bullitt (broken hand) - out for game; OG Beau Carpenter (head) - out for game; .
Week 11 vs. KSU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; OG Beau Carpenter (head) - out for game; RB DeAndre Washington (undisclosed) - out for game.
Week 12 vs. BU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; OG Beau Carpenter (head) - out for game.
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