It's that time again, ladies and germs. This week, I had a good old-fashioned back and forth with our friend Seth C over at Viva the Matadors regarding this week's opponent. Of course, as you might expect this had a lot more to do with discussing that young whippersnapper on the sideline than anything else, but we did manage to talk about what'll happen between the lines too.
Jon: What were your expectations like at the beginning of the year? Is there any way at this point this season can turn into a failure, or -- given that you probably hadn't penciled in any of the three remaining games as sure wins back in August -- have the Red Raiders already secured a "good season" ruling even if they don't win another game?
Seth: My expectations were an 8 win season, so right now, with three games left, I'm feeling pretty good about things. I even went on with EMAWadio and they confirmed that I'm not making this up. So with a brand new coach... a coach that has never been the head coach at any level, and a really young coaching staff that is still probably learning on the job, I'm really happy with where things are at. I would hate to end the season by losing 5 in a row, but all things considered, I'm pretty good.
Jon: In 2000, a young coach showed up in Norman and immediately turned around a moribund program. I'm sure you're hoping for a similar future, but do you actually see it?
Seth: At the very least, this is a program that has some hope and as split as the fanbase was before Kingsbury arrived, we can sorta see it. Right now, we're all looking at this as Kingsbury being way ahead of schedule. We're pretty excited that Kingsbury won 7 games his first year and pretty excited that he's been able to get so much done without really any reference as to how to be a head coach. Of course he's been around head coaches, but it's probably a lot different to sit in that chair and make decisions that affect the entire program, including dealing with players and their problems. As a coordinator, you sorta get to just deal with the game day decisions. So yes, I do see long-term success because I'm positive that Kingsbury will never leave Texas Tech.
Jon: The quarterback situation in Lubbock has been a little mystifying to the casual observer from afar. What's really going on there, and do you see a long-term plan in action or is Kingsbury just sort of winging it right now?
Seth: The relatively short version is that the guy that we all thought was going to lead this program for the next few years hurt his back in August and has played all of three or four downs in a blowout to Kansas. That's Michael Brewer. Davis Webb is the scholarship quarterback that everyone thought was really pushing Brewer during the spring and summer and would be the guy to take over for Brewer due to his injury. At the tail end of summer, Baker Mayfield arrived and stole the entire show and destroyed all of those presumptions by starting up until the Kansas game where he took a pretty nasty hit to his knee. Since then Webb has started and been fairly up and down. Too many turnovers for me, but he's also a true freshman and so you have to take that into consideration. Webb will start and he can be really inconsistent.
Jon: We're all pretty aware of Kingsbury's personality at this point, but how would you describe his in-game coaching philosophy? What does he like to do, and what sort of things can we expect to see on both sides of the ball?
Seth: He's been really calm and collected on the sideline and is not slapping any rears. You see a few photos of him chest-bumping players, but for 98% of his time on the sideline, he's pretty reserved, which I think fits his personality. As far as game management, he completely leaves the defense to DC Matt Wallerstedt. He's as hands-off as a coach can get and he's talked about that prior to the start of the season. As to actual play-calling, he likes to run a much more vertical offense than the prior OC ran, which I think is a good thing. It helps prevent teams from just sitting in the middle of the field and the defensive backs have to be pretty physical. The problem with that is of course you have to give the quarterback some time to make the play and that hasn't always happened the last few weeks. From a defensive standpoint, Wallerstedt likes to be a versatile, flipping to a 3-4 to 4-3, but with some recent injuries to the two starting safeties and a linebacker and a prominent defensive end, I think Wallerstedt will be more traditional.
Jon: Obviously Jace Amaro's going to be a huge pain for the Wildcats. Who else do we need to keep an eye on?
Seth: I mentioned to Grant on EMAWadio that Jakeem Grant is the quintessential Kansas St. player because he's 5-6/160 so Wildcat fans have to love him. Wide receivers Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez have been pretty good as well, Ward has been really good as of late, while Marquez has slowed a bit. I'm also becoming a big proponent of getting the running backs more touches as they've been really effective as of late.
Jon: From what you've seen of the Wildcats thus far, what concerns you the most about this week's game?
Seth: What concerns me the most is what they did to Baylor, which is slow this game down significantly. Texas Tech's success, I think, has been predicated on having multiple opportunities and drives to score. I can't help but think that K-State tries to limit that as much as possible and if Texas Tech doesn't have a few long drives of their own, then that could be incredibly problematic for this team in trying to keep pace.
Jon: And now the biggie: what's your prediction for Saturday?
Seth: If Texas Tech loses this game, then I'm not going to be allowed to be a homer and pick them to win any more because Baylor and the Longhorns, in Austin. So, I get to be a homer one more week and say that Texas Tech squeaks by K-State, 33-31.
And there you have it. I have to admit, having a guy who knows he's being a homer only picking his team to win by two points on the road makes me feel even better about this week's prospects. Seth is one of the great guys on this network, and we really appreciate him making the time to talk with us this week. We should have a link for my answers to Seth's questions later today, or possibly tomorrow, so stay tuned.