Grateful for the win.
And for the McCoy/Shipley/Cosby One Brain.
Make no mistake, we brought our A game. The notion that we did not implies that we'd look different if we played them again or that effort was lacking. We wouldn't. It wasn't. They'd expose us in the same exact ways; just as we'd expose them. A team that converts 11 of 14 on third down isn't in B game mode. OSU is a very good team with top flight skill personnel and a physical mindset. They are the team you'd design in a lab to give us fits. They're just two vials of badass short on defense. This is who we are against that team. Period. There's a difference between playing badly and being made to look bad.
We have limitations in our back seven that we can hide against a pass-happy spread offense with packages and narrow assignments. Chykie's absence magnified them. OSU isn't the team where you line a guy up and say,"Go Get QB Now!" or "Just don't let anyone deeper than you!" They're way too versatile for that. A football team that can run and throw with equal facility demands complete football players at your hinge positions (S, LB) to shut them down.
Defensively, this game was about the limitations of specialization. We're a team of packages. It's a shrewd way to deal with our deficiencies. Muschamp's ability to recognize strengths and play to them is why he's one of the best around. However, packages, by their nature, are specific. They don't work against versatile offenses. Sergio Kindle is a pass rushing LB and first rate hero blitzer who operates at a major deficit in a game where he must honor containment on Robinson, play a dangerous running game, look for screens, worry about the option, diagnose in space, and generally operate like a complete and totally well-rounded OLB.
Rashad Bobino and Jared Norton can be hidden - even useful - on a blitz against a Jurassic Missouri OL, but we were reminded that 4.9 40s are not ideal when paired with bad habits like running behind blocks and run blitzing the wrong gap. Blake Gideon learned that doubling Dez Bryant while also watching for shovels, slip screens, Pettigrew, and run support is slightly more difficult than watching a repetitious spread offense unfold in front of him from 15 yards deep. Oklahoma State's gameplan robbed Muschamp of the ability to simplify. He took our crib sheet.
Why can't I just chase a QB?
We gave up 6.5 yards per play - identical to their D's performance against our O. Ouch. The difference in total yardage was because we ran 13 more plays. To add insult to injury, Kendall Hunter went 18-161 - a 8.9 yard per carry clip. His longest run was only 24 yards. That's being consistently and methodically worked over in the running game.
Curtis Brown and Henry Melton played very well. I've long held that Curtis is a gamer and that the only way he'd improve was to get him into the mix. He's a unique athlete. I fully appreciate that guys need to show it in practice every day, but some need the light turned on in a game so that they can have the confidence and incentive to show it in practice from there on. Now that we've busted his cherry at corner, let's get him returning some kicks. Or am I getting ahead of myself? Melton did a nice job of contain on Robinson and was solid against the run. He had a career high 2 sacks.
The OSU OL was good. We had to play honest fronts because of the necessity of doubling Dez Bryant and Pettigrew and they took advantange of us. They showed our linebackers absolute disrespect, doubling our playside linemen to get a push and then counting on our MLB or Kindle to be incapable of making a play in space - Kindle paralyzed by assignment uncertainty, both MLBs by terrible instincts and limited athletic ability.
Okung played Orakpo as well as any LT to date. No guy as quick and strong as Brian minds attacking 350 pounders wearing concrete galoshes who sweat Pizza Hut. What he doesn't like are 295 pound guys with a motor and good technique backed by a running game that must be respected. Brian made a number of excellent plays, but never dominated. Fortunately, OSU's other OT was weak and that thwarted their offense on some key downs.
The good news is that even though Tech has its best run blocking OL in the Leach era and some very dangerous RB personnel, we'll be playing a much simpler game in Lubbock. Specialization will return in force and we will be made better for it.
McCoy was beyond superlatives again. We only ask him to be perfect to have any chance of winning. Fan fretting over his throwing a pick and losing a fumble has me shaking my head. No one in the country is being asked to make the throws in the windows that we ask. He was our entire offense against a hard-hitting defense and was responsible for 57 plays from scrimmage. Colt was 38 of 45 for 391 yards and 2 TDs with another 2 TDs running. He's likely to throw/run for 30+/10+ TDs his year while completing >80% of his passes. Amazing.
It takes a nation of millions to hold Shipley back
Shipley has now officially humiliated more African American males than Flavor Flav at the Source Awards. His fluidity isn't just attributable to the predictable honky core competency of good route running and sleeping in a bunk bed with Colt - the guy has elite NFL level quickness. Jordan Shipley is a pasty Torry Holt. The Quan is still ol' reliable and I love his heart and his mini-me Hines Ward tool kit. Dude does nothing for me (or the Longhorns) in the return game, but no one is perfect. The Quan will still graduate as one of my favorite Longhorn players of all time.
Ulatoski is playing at an All-Big 12 level.
The young WRs took two steps forward last week.....and one step back this one. We need them to take another two steps in Lubbock. Some team is going to wise up and demand that other players beat them and they'll even place them in favorable matchups to do so.
Vondrell McGee played a nice ballgame in limited action and Ogbonnaya was good out of the backfield though he made some uncharacteristic errors in blitz pick up. Seeing he and Ogbonnaya try to make lemonade out of running game lemons was difficult. We basically have two running plays now: the counter that is not one and a simple zone play. Oh, and a QB draw that Colt gets drilled on. Teams watch film. Time to add another wrinkle. No better time to diversify a running than Texas Tech.
No improvement on kick coverage or kick returns from last year. Our goal here is clearly to hold serve and it's failing. We have at least two guys on the kickoff coverage squad that are contact shy and I have no idea how they're surviving the scrutiny of the eye in the sky. I hope Mack gives this some special attention because Akina isn't getting it done and it could have easily cost us the football game. Teams are also preferentially kicking to Cosby. There's a reason for that. I have a bright idea - move Shipley there before the kick. Or try Fozzy, Curtis, Vondrell. I'm not sure why Quan needs the pounding.
Expectations are odd. They rise with the tide of success; then we pretend that the water was that depth all along. We're 8-0 and overachieving. OSU was damn good and designed to give us fits. Be happy for the win. Lubbock will be another hard test. This is the most important football game in Texas Tech's history. There will be a mania surrounding it like nothing West Texas has ever seen. It will be our fourth game in a murderer's row and Oklahoma State was the most physical test of the season: we're banged up, tired, and the fuel tank is running a little low.
And there's no team in the country I'd rather send in there than this one. Should be fun.
Do your part by performing a Santeria ritual to heal Chykie Brown's ankle...
And yes! HenryJames has EVEN more great thoughts on the big win.