Red Raiders vs Sooners coverage
CCM: This game has been dubbed the, "Baker Mayfield Bowl" and we've stated our opinions on the situation pretty clearly here at CCM. That said, we also want to be fair and let you share the Texas Tech side of the story.
VTM: Tech really embraced Baker when he was forced into the starting role. It was a feel good story about a walk-on playing pretty good football within the system. Some things began to show as the season went on though. Namely, not staying within the play. He had a tendency to look at his first read and if it wasn't there, "panic" for lack of a better term and try to take off running. This lead to a lot of turnovers... especially fumbles. He played mediocre down the stretch and the play that sticks out in most Tech fans minds is a phantom tackle against K-State after throwing a pick. Ironically, it was the "Never Quit" game and that play not only embodied how Mayfield was playing, but the team in general. When Webb played, he played much better statistically than Mayfield, but Kingbury kept allowing Mayfield to start down the stretch after coming back from injury. Once bowl preparations were underway, Kingsbury opened up the QB competition for three reasons. Mayfield's play was becoming suspect with turnovers and effort, Webb was playing well and Michael Brewer (the projected starter that year) was finally healthy. So he said, lets have competition because competition brings out the best in us. Mayfield didn't like it. He thought he had "won" the starting job out of camp that fall when in actuality, if Brewer doesn't have a back issue and Webb doesn't come down with a freak illness, Mayfield doesn't see the field at all in 2013. He was forced into the role, played well at times and when it came time to compete for the job, he left. Not only did he leave, but he made it clear Tech wasn't where he wanted to be to begin with and went to ESPN to air his grievances.
When it came to light that Kingsbury held up his transfer to OU, it wasn't to be petty, and in fact that is the bylaw of the conference. Mayfield hadn't had a full academic year on campus to qualify for a transfer. It's one of those things that looks one way in passing, but another when it actually comes down to how the conference and eligibility rules work. Tech has moved on. We feel we have two better QBs in Mahomes and Webb and that Mayfield's success is coming along with playing on a really talented OU team and having Texas Tech grad and former Tech coach, Lincoln Riley, call the plays.
CCM: So, as we talk about the 2015 version of Baker Mayfield, where do you see that he's approved since his time in Lubbock?
VTM: He's done a much better job in protecting the football, especially when he runs. He's making better decisions in general and is doing well with the talent he has around him and with Lincoln putting him in position to be successful.
CM: I've hyped Patrick Mahomes as one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. Does he have a weakness in his game?
VTM: Yes he does. He tries for the homerun ball too much. He does a great job in extending the play and keeping his eyes downfield, but every time he's forced from the pocket he is looking deep. He doesn't check much. So its one of those things that can come back to haunt him if he throws it deep forces the issue into a turnover.
CCM: The Red Raiders are four in the Big 12 at running the football, with an average of nearly 200 yards per game. Is that an overlooked aspect of the offense?
VTM: It is. Where OU has prototypical running backs, ours are more of the Quentin Griffin type... but more explosive. Shifty and gets in space. That along with an Air-Raid pass-first offense, it doesn't get nearly the attention it should. DeAndre Washington had over 1,000 yards last year and is on pace to do that again this year. If Justin Stockton gets in space, very few people on the field can catch him and a credit to Kingsbury to make it a focal point for Tech's offense.
CCM: Defensively there's still a significant struggle in Lubbock. Why is it that Kliff Kingsbury can't get things going on that side of the ball?
VTM: He's on his way. Something most people don't realize is how bad we were gutted by Tuberville. It was attrition on defense every year. Ton of transfers, injuries and didn't have the academics kept a bulk of incoming players off campus and led to a major depth issue. In 2013, almost every Senior was recruited by Leach. Think about that. In 2014, Kingsbury tried to fill the gap with JUCO players which didn't work, but gave the young players time to grow up a bit and this year is the first year with somewhat decent depth. A huge defense recruiting class coming in this year, coupled with the young players we have right now and big time transfers coming in from Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan make us hopeful for the future.
CCM: Is there a fear that the struggles of the defense will counter the good that the offense will be able to produce on Saturday?
VTM: Unfortunately yes. Under Leach it didn't matter how much we were behind we always felt we could come back. Tuberville brought about a culture of, if we don't score on every possession we lose. Kingsbury has been putting it back together and is far better than where we were under the last regime, but still very much the feeling of if we don't score every time we are in trouble. It's been good to see the Defense at Arkansas and Kansas seal the win with a turnover though. Building for the future.
CCM: Prediction time, how do you see the game shaking out in Norman?
VTM: I always go with my pre-season prediction on these and I'll stick with it. I think lack of a bye is catching up to Tech. We don't get a bye until the weekend before Thanksgiving. I see it playing about a lot like 2013 with it being close and OU pulling away at the end. Mayfield doesn't beat us... OU runs the ball a lot and OU's defense gets a turnover late.
OU wins 48-31... but it seems closer than that.
To catch the other side of the Q&A, you can read my responses to Ryan's questions right here. Spoiler Alert!!!! Somehow there's the belief that Texas Tech is indirectly responsible for all of Oklahoma's offensive success this season.