I almost couldn't bring myself to write this. None of the three losses this season has been fun to write about, but at least in all of them -- save maybe the ULL game -- there were things we could point to and say "that might be a glimmer of hope."
I got nothing for you from this one.
K-State just got dominated in every phase of the game, and the 66-14 final score doesn't even come close to showing how thoroughly Texas Tech dominated this game. When a school like Tech sets new records for offensive proficiency against you, it's a clear sign that you played really, really poorly.
Despite my overall dejection, there are a couple talking points from last night's game that should probably be discussed. First, what the hell were we doing in a 3-4 defense? I know Bill Snyder said earlier in the week that we might rush one and drop 10; was this his version of that? Apparently, the theory was that, with four linebackers who may blitz on any given play, we might be able to create confusion on the offensive line and get some pressure. Unfortunately, all that happened was we'd have four or five guys run headlong into one of Tech's 6'6", 320-pound monsters while Sticks Sheffield got a manicure before delivering a strike to one of his 10 or 11 receivers who would then break six tackles on their way to a 50+ yard score. While we haven't got any pressure with our four-man front in the games prior to last night, I don't think the week of the Texas Tech game is the week to try and introduce a new scheme. Stick with what you do and try to execute it well, and work on some tackling fundamentals.
While it probably wouldn't have changed much given the result of the game, Tech had a big turning point on its first drive. Against any sane coach, K-State would have forced a punt, forcing the Red Raiders into a fourth and one in their own territory. Of course, Mike Leach is not any sane coach, and his 180-pound quarterback picked up that yard easily on a sneak. Had we forced a punt there, things might have been different. As in, the final may have been 59-14.
Offensively, it was clear that we were trying to go with the grind it out approach to control the clock and keep Tech off the field. Of course, it didn't work, because to run the clock you have to pick up first downs, which was something we didn't do last night. There's not much to analyze here, because exactly nothing worked last night. I won't even discuss the fact that Grant Gregory was pulled in favor of Carson Coffman. It didn't matter. We can only hope that last night was one of those games that has a tendency to happen when you play at night in Lubbock, and not an indication of things to come.
That's enough about that game. Hit the jump for what it means, where we're going, a look at our previous opponents, and the Big 12 roundup.
What it means and where we're going...
Like I said, we can hope it just means that we were the next in a long line of blowout victims in night games in Lubbock. Probably not, but that's all we have right now. More likely, it shows us that, while our defensive schemes and tackling may be improved over last year, they're not improved to the point where they can contain elite athletes in a superior scheme. Unlike last year, we were actually in position to make some tackles against Tech. However, in all-too-familiar fashion, we didn't actually make those tackles when the opportunity presented itself.
Next week is an important home game against Texas A&M. While the Aggies are a lot better team than they were last season, this still ranks second only to Colorado as our best chance for a victory the rest of the season. As we all know all too well, we're not going to a bowl game this season, so our only hope is to see some week-to-week improvement. This week was obviously about 10 steps in the wrong direction, so next week is the time to start making that up.
Massachusetts dropped its first game to an FCS opponent yesterday when it lost, 43-27, to Delaware. The Minutemen are now 3-2, and 1-1 in the Colonial Athletic Conference. They were ranked No. 12 in FCS last week.
UCLA dropped its second straight game since beating K-State when it lost to Oregon, 24-10, yesterday. The loss was even more painful because Oregon's starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, didn't play. The Bruins are now 3-2, and winless through two Pac-10 conference games.
Louisiana snapped out of its offensive funk to drop North Texas, 38-24, in Lafayette, La. The Ragin' Cajuns scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally for the win, which moves them to 3-2, and 1-0 in Sun Belt action (actually, 1-1, considering that Nebraska is now an unofficial member of the Sun Belt).
Tennessee Tech...who cares. The only question is how badly they would lose to Texas Tech.
Iowa State: See below.
Big 12 Roundup
Nebraska 27, Missouri 12
Rarely do games swing as wildly as this one did, but looks can be deceiving. While one may surmise that Missouri was dominating this game through three quarters, they had been simply benefitting from Nebraska mistakes as much as anything. The Tigers scored two points on a safety after a bad snap on a punt, then had two other scoring drives that totalled 49 yards for 10 points. A good part of Missouri's offensive struggles were due to Blaine Gabbert's obvious gimpiness after Ndamukong Suh landed on his right leg. Call me crazy, but he was almost a non-factor running after that, and his throws looked labored as he planted and pushed off that leg.
Overall, I'm not sure what this game says about both teams. It would be a stretch to read too much into a game played in terrible weather conditions, so I'd urge caution on assessing both teams. Missouri probably isn't as bad as it looked in the fourth quarter, and Nebraska was truly awful for three-fourths of this game, so I'd hold off on anointing Nebraska as back and Missouri as finished.
Up next: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State (Stillwater, Okla., Sat. 10/17); Nebraska vs. Texas Tech (Lincoln, Neb., Sat. 10/17)
KU 41, Iowa State 36
Yet another game of almost for Iowa State. The Cyclones shredded KU's defense for 512 total yards, and had they been able to kick a ball worth a damn, would have forced overtime in this game (ceteris paribus, obviously, but they missed two PATs and had a FG try fail on a bad hold). Austen Arnaud looked nothing like he did last week at Farmageddon, throwing for 295 yards and two scores. It wasn't enough, though, because the Cyclone defense didn't have an answer for Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Dez Briscoe. The beaks are clearly going to score some points this year, which will be a requirement considering their defense is playing very poorly right now.
Up next: Iowa State vs. Baylor (Ames, Iowa, Sat. 10/17); KU vs. Colorado (Boulder, Colo., Sat. 10/17)
Oklahoma 33, Baylor 7
While the score indicates from watching this one that OU beat Baylor easily, the action on the field wasn't quite so clear. The Sooners led only 14-7 at halftime, and the restlessness throughout the day at Owen Field was palpable. Oklahoma fans are not happy with offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, but it's the inexperienced offensive line that is at the root of the problem as much as anything. Sam Bradford reappeared for the Sooners and threw for 389 yards. For the Bears' part, Nick Florence played fairly well at QB, leading Art Briles' offense down the field on a few drives, but coming up empty when it mattered. Briles is turning the tide in Baylor, but it's a big tide to turn.
Up next: Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas, Texas, Sat. 10/17); Baylor vs. Iowa State (Ames, Iowa, Sat. 10/17)
For more: Crimson and Cream Machine
Oklahoma State 36, Texas A&M 31
Playing without standout wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys eked out a win in College Station against the improving Aggies. Oklahoma State put up 448 total yards against A&M, and limited the high-powered TAMU offense to 382, its lowest output of the season. Zac Robinson played well even without Bryant as a target, averagine 11.2 yards per attempt. On the ground, Keith Toston clipped of five yards per carry for the Pokes.
Up next: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri (Stillwater, Okla., Sat. 10/17); Texas A&M vs. K-State (Manhattan, Kan., Sat. 10/17)
For more: I Am The 12th Man
Texas 38, Colorado 14
The Longhorns were in full survive-and-advance mode, not waking up until the second half after Colorado had built a stunning 14-3 lead. Still, for a team looking to win a national title, the Horns did exactly what they needed to do by getting the win. Jordan Shipley was the spark for Texas, scoring on a 39-yard reception and a 74-yard punt return. Interestingly, Dan Hawkins took a page out of Ron Prince's playbook and burned backup QB Tyler Hanson's redshirt in the second half. It was an exceedingly odd move, given that Texas had clearly turned the momentum and it was pretty clear Colorado would not be making a comeback. Will Hanson be the Buffs' QB for the rest of the season, or will we be back to Cody "Dying Duck for an INT" Hawkins next week?
Up next: Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas, Texas, Sat. 10/17); Colorado vs. KU (Boulder, Colo., Sat. 10/17)
Thought of the Week
I wish referees would use a little discretion in deciding whether to call pass rushers for personal fouls based on a blow to the head. Watch most quarterbacks after a touchdown. Often, they'll celebrate it by running up to someone and butting their helmet together. Just as an illustration, I saw Colt McCoy do it last night. If the pass rusher makes incidental contact with the helmet that is no more forceful than a celebratory head-butt, the ref should keep his flag in his pants. Just my $0.02. I bring this up because Baylor's Joe Pawelek got called for helmet-to-helmet contact with Bradford yesterday on a play where I'm not sure Bradford even realized he got hit.