Its Friday and that means its time to get the lowdown on Oklahoma's weekend opponent from one of the people who knows the team inside and out. This week we're welcoming Seth C. from SBN's Texas Tech site Viva The Matadors. Seth is one of the coolest dudes that we know and runs one of the better college sites on the SBN Network. Let's have a chat.
CCM: Kliff Kingsbury has to be neck-and-neck with Baylor's Art Briles for the Big Twelve Coach of the Year at this point. How much has he exceeded fan expectations in his first season and what area(s) would you say he still needs to grow in as a coach?
VTM: Oh gosh, I think he has a ton of room to grow as a coach. He's still learning the process, but he's just so sharp. People tend to really over-look what he does to motivate players and how he coaches, it's almost humorous at this point. I'm not at all about to say that he's as good as it gets, but it's certainly been a really fun ride thus far. As far as fan expectations, I don't know that fans really had huge expectations for him as a coach, they were really just happy to have Tuberville riding off in the sunset to Cincinnati. I think that most fans were really resigned to this being a bit of a rebuilding year, coming in and having to re-work some things. I don't think that fans were really expecting all of this to happen so quickly. Essentially, I don't really recall many fans saying, "If Kingsbury doesn't do . . . then he should be gone."
CCM: The Red Raiders have the nation's second rated passing attack with an average 416.4 yards per game. To me, the incredible thing is that they've accomplished it while having to use two different quarterbacks. What is the current health status of the Tech signal callers?
VTM: Kingsbury is like his former coach on injuries and who starts and thinks like that. From what I can tell, all of the quarterbacks are healthy because they all dressed. And yes, we've all been quite impressed with what Kingsbury has been able to do with two freshmen quarterbacks. I know it probably doesn't get as much play, but Webb has gone from confused and throwing ducks in the air to a quarterback that isn't as accurate, but can throw the deep ball as well as I've seen. Mayfield can really work over a defense on the underneath stuff and is quite adept finding open receivers. And we haven't even seen the guy that was supposed to be the starter, Michael Brewer who looked top-notching during the spring.
CCM: On the other end of the passing attack are the guys who catch the ball. Tight end Jace Amaro is a beast coming off the line but the receiving corps in general is pretty salty as well. The top two running backs even have a combined 36 catches. Obviously the tendency is to pass the ball but can the Red Raiders be balanced as well or will they live and die with the pass?
VTM: Texas Tech can be balanced, but I tend to think that Kingsbury likes to figure things out in terms of running the ball after he's had a few opportunities at the defense. I mentioned something a few weeks ago, which should be pretty neat to watch for OU fans, which is that if Texas Tech has Sadale Foster healthy (he wasn't last week), Kingsbury will run him in the slot and at the running back, essentially giving the defense two different looks from the same group of personnel. Texas Tech is able to then run play after play without substituting a running back and can go from 10 personnel to 20 personnel. Once Kingsbury maybe has the defensive personnel that he likes, he can run a handful of plays to take advantage of a particular situation.
CCM: Led by linebacker Will Smith, the Tech defense has really taken a step in a positive direction this season. If you were the Oklahoma coaching staff, how would you attack the Red Raiders?
VTM: I think Texas Tech's weakness is the secondary. Clint Trickett isn't a very reliable quarterback and he was able to complete some pretty long passes or get some pass interference calls. You can't survive on something like that, but I'd push the envelope and get Bell to throw deep even if that isn't a strength. I also think that I'd probably just run the heck out of Bell and the running backs. I still don't understand how Bell can only average 28 yards rushing a game.
CCM: From the comments posted on our site by Texas Tech fans, it seems that the preseason expectations were just to get a bowl birth to lay a foundation for the future. Now that the Red Raiders are square in the middle of the conference championship hunt, have those expectations changed or is everything from here on out just a bonus?
VTM: That's how I'm looking at it. I only had this team pegged for 8 wins for the year, so I feel like you take advantage of each and every game. I tend to think that a lot of national folks would have had Texas Tech with two losses, TCU and WVU, at the start the season and even some picked Kansas or Iowa St. the last few weeks with the rational that "it's a trap game, Texas Tech is due for a loss". So right now, I'm giddy and I think as a program and a coach, you take what you can. Kingsbury, like any other coach, preaches one game at a time and I do tend to think that they're pretty focused because for almost each game, you've had people doubt what this team can do.
CCM: We like to put our Q&A guests on the spot and ask them to give us a score prediction for the game so...
VTM: I think the crowd favors Oklahoma and I wonder if the UT game is the worst game of the year for the Sooners. That sorta scares me. OU has shown they can play really good opportunistic football, but have had problems scoring, which I really don't get. I'm pretty confident in Texas Tech's ability to score consistently. I'll go with the upset, but I'm really not all that confident about it, 28-27 for Texas Tech.
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