The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Tech Red Raiders are set to kick off their Big 12 seasons, and here to help us preview the action is Jeramey Gillilan of Viva The Matadors — SB Nation’s Texas Tech site. We talk about their offense sans Alan Bowman, what we can expect from their two QBs, their improved defense, tortilla preferences and more.
Also, make sure to check out this week’s episode of the Oklahoma Breakdown Podcast, as Jack & Kamiar talk Texas Tech, Trejan Bridges, and defensive recruiting amongst other things. Fair warning — it contains a bit of NSFW language.
Texas Tech is still spreading the ball out with Matt Wells at the helm, but what differences in offensive scheme have you noticed with the new regime in Lubbock?
The most obvious change that Matt Wells brought to Texas Tech is an honest relationship with the run game. At his inauguration dinner, Wells made it clear that in order to win games in November you have to A) run the ball and B) stop the run. While other coaches alluded to a running game, it’s been a long time since Tech fans have seen a near-balanced playbook like the one Wells has shown us through three games. The passing game, alternatively, seems like it has shortened a bit. We aren’t seeing a familiar air-raid scheme but instead a heavier reliance on the short to medium routes; which isn’t bad but certainly hasn’t utilized Alan Bowman’s strengths as a passer.
Disclaimer! With Bowman’s injury sidelining him, we’re going to see this offense run with two quarterbacks that have not had significant time at the helm. It could either be a brilliant substitution or, more likely, all go to hell. Plenty of intrigue at 11am on a Saturday.
Defensively, Texas Tech appears to be as strong as it’s been in years. What is it about Keith Patterson’s scheme and/or style that has helped yield such positive results?
It truly is the best defense we’ve had in a long time. It’s not amazing, but I will confidently say we’re average. The bane of Texas Tech’s defense in the past was applying simple concepts that relied on strength/talent to win the day when we had neither of those, really. In contrast, Patterson built a style around high-IQ that applies pressure at different spots throughout the game. With or without talent it’s the effective disruption that gives Tech success - similar to how Oklahoma has been running, actually. While Patterson was at Utah State he was able to curate a consistent top-50 defense throughout his tenure without high profile players. I imagine he wants to replicate that at Texas Tech, but this time with a better litter to pick from.
With Alan Bowman out, Oklahoma will likely be facing two different QBs in Jett Duffey and Jackson Tyner. What should OU expect when each of these guys are on the field?
Okay, Jackson Tyner is a transfer from Rice. He’s a pocket passer through and through, but he is depressingly inaccurate. So inaccurate that the quarterback he lost the job to has a negative quarterback passer rating. A negative rating.
Then on the flip side we have Jett Duffey. Duffey is a dual-threat quarterback that makes you feel like your playing a weird version of Russian roulette where there’s five bullets instead of one. He has shown Texas Tech the very best of his abilities, both hitting a dime from deep (https://twitter.com/ftbeard_17/status/1061470654233423874?s=20) and weaving past tacklers with ease on the run (https://youtu.be/y7pHV3l4-Zo?t=133). I mean the guy won Mr. Texas Football in high school for a reason…but boy, oh boy does he know how to shoot himself in the foot. Duffey’s biggest weakness was his decision making in key moments of the game. Too often would he elect to throw into double-coverage and miss the wide open receiver, or he would scramble with the ball in the loosest of grips that led to multiple fumbles.
I’ve heard multiple Sooner sites report that Duffey will be the starter on Saturday, but I’m convinced Wells is running the offense through Tyner first. Also if Xavier Martin comes onto the field that’s our uber-back-up-quarterback plan. He’s fast and used to play quarterback so possibly a better option than both tbfh.
As far as the skill positions are concerned, which players should Oklahoma fans keep an eye on this Saturday?
I can list off a number of receivers to you, but if our quarterbacks aren’t getting a good sling on it then it wouldn’t matter. I think that Oklahoma fans can look towards our running back core: Armand Shyne, Tazhawn Henry, and SaRoderick “Sweet Feet” Thompson. With the inevitable demise of the passing game it will come down to running the ball through the gauntlet of these three athletes. I have, along with many Red Raider fans, enjoyed the implementation of the run game this season so expect a significant amount of them Saturday.
Linebacker Jordyn Brooks leads the team with 35 tackles through three games. What makes him such a special player?
Jordyn Brooks is big, fast, fearless, and smart. It’s the best/worst combination of skills behind the defensive line. Last year he was, if memory serves, statistically better than Dakota Allen but because of Allen’s story Brooks was understandably shadowed. This year it’s all him and he, rightfully, is making the most of it. Since Hurts, like Khalil Tate, can run the ball well you guys can expect Brooks to play some QB spy. The Hurts - Brooks match up is something I’m excited to see.
When taking the Bowman situation into consideration, how have the expectations for this season changed?
Oh absolute plummet into despair and depression, for sure. Our QB2 Maverick McIvor was going to be a solid back-up if anything happened to Bowman, but McIvor ended up having a necessary surgery prior to the season and is on recovery. With the two QB options we have outside of them - you can see why fans aren’t holding their breath for a breakout season. Get me two, maybe three wins in conference, and we’ll build up for next season.
Do you prefer corn tortillas or flour tortillas? Which is better for throwing?
Look, both have their place. Corn tortillas — small and flavorful — are built for the street taco while flour tortillas — large and reliable — are built for the burritos and stuffed-full-of-shit fajitas. If you try to take them out of their roles you’ll just be disappointed. That being said I’ve always gravitated towards the flour tortilla because, when made fresh, they’re just so warm and inviting. I used to live near the Mrs. Baird’s bread plant in Houston and you can’t beat the fresh baked flour smell. Plus they don’t let me down like corn tortillas.
It should be obvious which is best for throwing. It’s the big boy flour tortilla. The trick to increasing distance as well as stability of the tortilla is by making a hole directly in the center. It’s legitimately engineering at its most rudimentary form and I love it.
Who is your all-time favorite Texas Tech alum?
Right now it’s a toss-up between Patrick Mahomes and Jarrett Culver. Mahomes has really put Lubbock on the map with the way he’s burst onto the stage in the NFL. Sure, we’ve had great players in the NFL over the years but none of them have had the same hype and attention that Mahomes has. Equally, Mahomes has been a huge ambassador for Texas Tech. His connection with Lubbock as well as the University have not gone unnoticed, and he’s always trying his best to make Tech games whenever he has the time. Jarret Culver, likewise, has been an excellent ambassador for Texas Tech and especially for Lubbock. This is somebody who grew up in Lubbock, graduated from a Lubbock high school, and then took one of the Lubbock universities to a national title game. It’s gotta be every Lubbock athlete’s dream now to replicate that fairy tale, and I think that’s fantastic for the city as well as the University.
It’s great to have stand-up athletes represent your university at the highest level.
Texas Tech is obviously a big road underdog this week, with Oklahoma being favored by 27. Do you think Texas Tech beats the spread?
I do not. If we do beat the spread, you guys have walked off the field and we were granted five more minutes of play time by ourselves.
What would have to happen for Texas Tech to pull off the unthinkable?
First and foremost we would all have to be dramatically wrong about the quarterback situation. If, and only if, that pillar stands up straight then we could exasperate ourselves by talking strategy. The offensive line needs to improve from last game’s debacle, the defense - who I imagine would play better if they weren’t so damn tired - needs to stay mentally and physically engaged the whole game, and our offensive coordinator has GOT to draw up some better plays than screens.
I’m tired of that screen shit, Jack, I’m tired of it.