Kyle Jacobson of Viva The Matadors (Texas Tech’s SB nation site) answers our questions on a number of topics.
1. Baker Mayfield is making his return to Lubbock after his departure from the squad following the 2013 season. What’s Texas Tech fan base’s general opinion of him at this point?
There are two prevailing opinions on Mayfield. A significant portion of the fan base likes the “revenge” storyline, and will use Mayfield’s return to hype up the game even more. But many, including myself, are a little tired of hearing about it. The transfer was three years ago after all. And with Mahomes turning out to be a stellar quarterback, it’s not as if Mayfield’s absence is particularly harmful. I believe a growing contingent of Tech fans are pretty much over it.
2. Sophomore receiver Jonathan Giles has been lighting up secondaries this year, with 750 receiving yards already this season. What makes him so difficult to stop.
First, he’s a great route runner. Many of his biggest plays this season have come on relatively sophisticated routes that open up deep or over the middle of the field, usually with Giles creating a boat load of separation between himself and his defender. Second, he’s dynamic after the catch. If he gets the ball on a screen pass or a shorter route, he’s tough to bring down. He’s only a true sophomore who got a little bit of playing time last season, but the coaches talked him up a lot before the season, and now we’re seeing why with his emergence.
3. Outside of Giles and Mahomes, who are two other playmakers that Oklahoma fans should keep an eye on?
On the offensive side of the ball, Derrick Willies if he is able to play. He missed the game against West Virginia last weekend, and his absence was certainly felt. He’s arguably the most gifted wide receiver in terms of raw physical ability, and has tons of playmaking ability.
On defense, safety Jah’Shawn Johnson is our biggest ball hawk. The defense hasn’t forced many turnovers this season, but last year Johnson forced/recovered a couple fumbles and also picked off a couple passes. If the defense is able to step up against Oklahoma this week, it is likely that Johnson will be the one leading the charge.
4. Texas Tech’s defense has struggled mightily this season, but have there been any bright spots? Have any particular defensive players stood out this season?
The defensive line is much bigger and better than last season. They are flat out bad at pass rushing, but they’ve been competent in stopping the run at times this season, which is more than they could say for themselves last season. Breiden Fehoko is a sophomore defensive tackle, Ondre Pipkins is a senior transfer from Michigan, and Kolin Hill is a sophomore transfer from Notre Dame. Those three seem to make a fair trio up front, and they’ve helped to improve the unit significantly since 2015.
5. What did the average Texas Tech fan hope for during the recent expansion saga? Also, once this conference eventual self-destructs, in which conference do you see the Red Raiders competing?
There didn’t seem to be much of a consensus among the fan base, which is perhaps a microcosm of the entire expansion saga. We joked that we wanted Cincinnati to join so we could have the chance to play a Tommy Tuberville squad, but I don’t think anyone has very hard feelings about expansion one way or the other. There was also a contingent of fans adamantly against Houston, since that would prop up another in-state school and give them more revenue and more recruits.
6. How do Texas Tech fans feel about the Oklahoma program in general, and what do your fans think of Oklahoma fans?
Texans as a whole like to tease people from the state of Oklahoma, so you see a lot of those jokes each year when we play the Sooners or the Cowboys. I can’t speak for our fan base’s feelings toward Oklahoma’s specifically, but I’ve never heard anything bad. I went to Norman for the 2013 game and Sooners were excellent hosts and very polite to me and my friends. There was one guy who was a jerk, but every fan base has its bad apples.
7. What does Texas Tech need to do on Saturday to come away with a victory, and do you think it happens? What’s your final score prediction?
Texas Tech needs to start hot on offense and jump out to an early lead. We have shown almost no ability to respond to adversity this season, so even if we’re just down by a touchdown early on, it could swing the momentum towards Oklahoma in a big way. If Texas Tech can go into the half up by 10 or 14, forcing Oklahoma to be more one dimensional on offense, they might have a shot.
Ultimately I think Oklahoma is just too talented. I think the Sooners will win 49 to 31.
Bonus Question: Which type of tortilla is the best for throwing – flour or corn?
There is a way too serious debate about this among our fan base. In my experience, corn tortillas are denser and less flimsy than flour tortillas. If you’re going for maximum height or distance with a tortilla toss, stick with corn.