This week, all eyes -- well, at least all our eyes -- will be on Manhattan for the latest visit from those desperadoes from West Texas. Jon had a chat with Seth C, manager of the wonderful SB Nation Texas Tech site Viva the Matadors, about the game and other interesting topics. Onward!
Jon: We're going to start with the most vitally important stuff first here: how did you feel about Berry Tramel comparing Kliff Kingsbury to Anna Kournikova?
Seth: Oh, it's a little tired. I suppose I'm more tired than most, but I get to hear it a lot. I really let it roll off my back for the most part. I'm not a huge fan of trying to define what a coach is or is not just a season or so into his coaching career and he's had one season where he won 8 games with two true freshmen starting quarterbacks. That's not exactly easy. If anything, it was a cheap headline grab for Tramel.
(Ed. note: our own wildcat00 addressed this issue as well, noting that comparing Kingsbury to Kournikova isn't exactly the insult Berry Tramel might have thought it was.)
Jon: Sticking with Kingsbury, and being more serious now... I'm in no way implying that Kingsbury is an abject failure with this question, but it's still got some relevance. How do you feel about his lengthy extension, especially when you look down the road from us at the situation the fake birds have gotten themselves into (again)?
Seth: I suppose you can look at it in two different ways. The first is, what if Hocutt (the AD) and Kingsbury saw what the season might entail. Hocutt knows what it is like to build a program and to give a coach time to make things right, he learned from Snyder. So, rather than let Kingsbury flail in the wind, there's plenty of Big 12 television money to make that happen. Not only that, an extension is only a problem if the school can't afford to cover that mistake and make another move. Kingsbury's appeal has helped sell out the season tickets this year, not to mention bring together a program that was falling apart at the seams. Kingsbury has already made Texas Tech their money. The other scenario is that Hocutt is going all in on Kingsbury. It's for recruiting as much as anything, he can show these guys that he's here at Texas Tech as long as they'll let him around. I'm honestly fine with it.
Jon: How do you feel about Kingsbury after a full year, compared to Tommy Tuberville and Mike Leach?
Seth: In context, Leach and Tuberville had entire careers to compare to, while Kingsbury has a short stint as offensive coordinator at a couple of stops and one year as a head coach. For me, Kingsbury has really exceeded expectations. That's not to say that it hasn't been a bit of a bumpy ride for Kingsbury. He's still figuring out a lot of things, like penalties and turnovers, etc, but I'm betting that he figures it out.
Jon: You have any insight on what really went down with Baker Mayfield? Was it really just as simple as a kid being mad that he wasn't going to be the starter, or was there more going on that pushed him away?
Seth: It's funny. I was emailed by a "friend of Mayfield" right after the news broke and they said he would end up at Oklahoma. Honestly, I think that anything I say about Mayfield probably looks like sour grapes. From everything I've heard, he essentially went to Kingsbury and told him that he needed to be the starter heading into the bowl game. It's not a surprise that Kingsbury didn't take to an ultimatum and told Mayfield that he would have to earn it. Mayfield then transferred. Mayfield blamed it on a lack of communication, so I guess not hearing what you want is a lack of communication. I don't think that Kingsbury wants quarterbacks to leave. He has to make a choice and if the quarterbacks don't like that choice, then they can transfer. That's okay.
Jon: After K-State went through a somewhat similar situation in the spring with Leti Romero, we're wondering: do you feel that maybe Tech is being heavy-handed with their treatment of Mayfield now, or do you think the refusal to free him up is justified?
Seth: I think it's the manner that it happened and the fact that Mayfield wanted to go to Oklahoma, which he said was his dream school, but he walked on at Texas Tech. Something doesn't compute. With that being said, I get that Mayfield was a walk-on and all of that. From what I could tell, the only restriction was that Kingsbury and Texas Tech didn't want it to be a Big 12 school. That's not uncommon, and the Mayfields have the ability to fight this on some level, but I didn't have a problem with Kingsbury sticking to the NCAA and conference rules regarding transfers.
Jon: It appears Tech may be without the services of Davis Webb Saturday. What do you think we're going to see as a result, and do you think there will be changes offensively even if he does take the field?
Seth: Well, there's only one other option, Patrick Mahomes. He's not the passer that Webb is, but he's mobile. He's the son of a former MLB pitcher, Pat Mahomes, and a terrific three-sport athlete. I've seen as much as anyone, just about a quarter of play. He's a true freshman and so you'll probably see more mistakes and maybe a better running game.
Jon: Tech's lost what we saw as their main weapon last year in Jace Amaro. What should be be looking for this weekend offensively, and what are you worried about most from the Wildcat defense?
Seth: It all depends on who starts at quarterback. The other thing that I forgot to mention is that Dylan Cantrell is a high school teammate of Mahomes. They connected on a ton of passes in East Texas, so if Mahomes does start, you could look to a lot of that connection. Also, the running game has been much improved and if Webb is out, that would be a pretty easy way to take pressure off of Mahomes. As far as what I'm concerned with the K-State defense, I think that defense that's one of the best in the country in terms of stopping the run is a good place to start.
Jon: The Red Raiders have, to put this kindly, had some issues stopping the run. Coaching or talent?
Seth: Probably both. Texas Tech had 4 JUCO defensive line recruits this past recruiting class to help replenish some of the deficiencies on the line, and there were a ton of them. Texas Tech had to do that. As far as Wallerstedt, who was responsible for the better part of that run defense, Arkansas was a horrible match-up for Texas Tech and UTEP was just a really tough game to watch because there wasn't any sufficient tackling. It's a young defense or inexperienced and it's going to take time. I hate the fact that I have to keep typing that.
Jon: What will we see on defense, and just how concerned are you about the K-State offense?
Seth: You'll see a pretty standard 3-4 and the hope that has lots of holes, as you are well aware. More than anything, I'm scared about the balance that K-State presents, right down the middle in terms of passing and rushing in terms of national averages.
Jon: Finally, prediction time!
Seth: I like K-State here and I'd even take the spread, especially if Mahomes starts. I'm feeling much better after Texas Tech's outing last week against OSU (as strange as that is) but going into Manhattan as a true freshman can't be easy for Mahomes. That's a lot of cards stacked against Texas Tech. If Webb starts, I'll still take K-State, but within the spread.
Our thanks to Seth, who as always was a pleasure to work with. As per custom, Jon also answered questions for Seth, and we'll have a link to those as soon as possible. Also, in just an hour you can look for this week's Bring on the Podcast, where Luke talks with Seth's colleague MikeTTU.