As the Oklahoma Sooners get set to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders in yet another Lubbock night game, we’re joined by Albie Shore of the Air Raid Podcast (powered by SB Nation’s Viva the Matadors) to learn a bit more about the opponent.
Texas Tech’s season got off to an inauspicious start, but do you believe the win and performance against West Virginia has rejuvenated any hope that this season can be a success?
Success is a funny word. You Sooners judge success by winning a Big 12 championship or making the College Football Playoff while in the past decade, us Red Raiders judge success on whether our team is an embarrassment or not. By the latter grading scale, there is a sliver of hope that I’m not just counting down the days till basketball season, but this team still has a long way to go to even get there. What the West VIrginia game did show us, is this team does still have some fight in them. As long as the man they call Colombi is under center, Texas Tech has its best chance at achieving real success.
OU fans were obviously familiar with Alan Bowman, but Henry Columbi is now the man behind center in Lubbock. What about Colombi’s skill sets him apart, and are there some areas where he still needs to develop?
Colombi does not have the arm talent that Bowman does but he simply seems to make better decisions. What we’ve seen from Colombi in the last three games is the ability to simply keep the chains moving and move down the field. Everyone from Lubbock is awestruck by his willingness to scramble and gain yards but I’m even more impressed by his ability to slide at the perfect time, usually right after getting the first down. This is all wonderful, but I’m still unsure if he can go through his progressions as a passer. Last week against West VIrginia, he took off rather quickly after his first read was covered, and he won’t have the luxury of surprising Oklahoma this week, now that he’s QB1.
Speaking of Colombi, his receiving arsenal certainly isn’t lacking for quality weapons. Of the players in this group, who should Oklahoma fans keep an eye on this Saturday?
I’ve said it on our podcast, the Air Raid Podcast (shameless plug), that the trio of Erik Ezukanma, TJ Vasher, and Kesean Carter is the best in the conference and one of the best in the country. Our receiving core is easily the strength of the team but with the aforementioned Carter and Vasher both questionable for the upcoming game, Ezukanma is the name commentators will rave the most about — he’s a big, physical possession receiver who’s fast enough to go yard, an overall beast. If the injuries do continue to hamper Vasher and Carter, then be prepared to hear about another unknown commodity, Myles Price. The speedy freshman has been quite the surprise this season and he seems to be always good for a 10-yard gain off of a jet sweep.
Defensively, Texas Tech sits at No. 97 nationally in SP+. What have been the biggest issues for this group, and what has the group done well?
I’m not sure if I feel that this stat is misleading because the defense isn’t as bad as the ranking suggests, or if I’m a Texas Tech fan so I don’t know what non-abysmal defense looks like, but I will say that this defense has oddly enough been the more trustworthy unit in the last three games. The linebacking core is surprisingly stout with transfers Colin Schooler, Krisean Merriweather, Jacob Morgenstern along with mainstay Riko Jeffers leading the way . There’s at least two future NFL players in that group alone. The problem with linebacking is that when your secondary is worrisome, much of the play from the front seven becomes moot. They had Sam Ehlinger of all people looking like a quality passer. This is trouble going against Texas Tech grad Lincoln Riley’s potent offense.
Is there even a small part of you that wishes Kliff Kingsbury was still in Lubbock?
Kliff Kingsbury was 19-35 in the Big 12. He had a guy who could very well end up being the Michael Jordan of football on his team and lost 66-10 to IOWA STATE. So no, I do not wish he was still in Lubbock.
Speaking of which, how is the fan base feeling about Matt Wells up to this point? Are fans willing to be patient in this instance?
Well Texas Tech fans are usually a pretty patient bunch. Like I mentioned before, Kingsbury went 19-35 in Big 12 play and there were still fans saying, “he just needs more time.” With that being said, after Tech blew that 15-point lead with 3:13 left in regulation, I have never seen Tech fans so willing to fire a coach 14 games into his tenure. That loss was a gut punch and even though the team was able to win last week, it’s going to take a lot more to win the trust of Texas Tech fans now. The offense being pedestrian and not at all like the potent offense Tech fans have gotten used to watching the past 20 years has not helped Wells’ case.
Who’s your favorite Texas Tech alum outside of sports?
Bernard Harris Jr. First african-american to go into space baybeeeeeee.
Who would win in a fight – Wes Welker or Danny Amendola?
I have met Wes Welker. He is truly a cool, down to earth guy who is relaxed but seems like he’ll rough you up if it came down to it. I have not met Danny Amendola. This simply means he’s obviously avoiding me and therefore has no hands.
What’s your go-to for takeout food in Lubbock?
Can’t go wrong with a burger in Lubbock and Blue Sky on 4th street has some of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Lubbock also happens to be the home of Thai Pepper, a hole in the wall Thai food restaurant with the most delicious Pad Thai there is. Yes, I said it, the most delicious Pad Thai does not reside in Los Angeles or Washington D.C. but instead resides in Lubbock, Texas.
What’s your go-to drink for watching the Red Raiders on a Saturday?
I’m all about Blue Moon. Nice hot Saturday with an orange garnished beer to see whether or not I yell obscenities at my TV is one hell of a ride.