Clash in Morgantown,
The Battle for John Denver,
Musket: We’re officially through the first quarter of the season and Texas Tech has had a bit of an up an down start. What’s gone wrong in these first few games and what positives have you seen that give you confidence that Tech can still achieve those goals in front of them.
CCC: Against Wyoming, the answer was a bit of everything went wrong. But specifically, poor quarterback play combined with just god-awful work by offensive coordinator Zach Kittley made for an anemic showing. Since then, the playcalling has steadily improved. Granted, against Oregon Tahj Brooks couldn’t get the ball to save his life but slowly we are seeing Coach Kittley adjust his calls to attack the middle of the field and get his TEs involved and let his star RB eat. The issue is Tyler Shough turned the ball over 4 (one a garbage time Hail Mary) times against Oregon and had a 16 QBR against FCS Tarleton state. So, he right now plus a shaky at times offensive line is holding this team back.
The positives is you took Oregon to the brink despite those turnovers, and frankly, should’ve won that game. The defense is doing a great job, sans the pass rush that is struggling to find their way post-Tyree Wilson. And offensively, if Shough and Kittley get out of the way there is real talent to run with anyone. The losses sting, but this is a good football team that just has to act like it. The Big 12 is wide open, and I don’t see many teams I expect Tech to lose to, but you have to stop beating yourself.
Who of Tech’s two quarterbacks should we expect to see in Morgantown and what are the pros and cons of going with each one?
Shough will be your starter, that’s confirmed by the staff. Behren Morton should be your starter, he has a better arm and is overall more athletic. Type Shough’s experience is his only advantage, but he’s just not developing. The ball continues to come out late, and either float or hit the turf. He regularly makes the wrong reads or can’t make them quick enough. And frankly, while Morton is the young QB Shough looks just as unpolished. Shough has flashed ability that had him as a highly-touted prospect, but there’s been no consistency. Morton will make plenty of mistakes, but he is the heir to this offense and I and many other Tech fans are ready to see him inherit the kingdom early. The hope is after three bad weeks, Shough turns in a performance more like his best moments. If he can’t, his reign is coming to an end.
WVU is a team that is going to want to run the ball a ton, especially with a backup quarterback likely making his first start. How has Tech’s run defense stacked up in their first three games?
The run defense is frankly phenomenal. The only successful run plays for anyone facing Tech are pretty much all coming on quarterbacks breaking contain. Tech’s linebacker group is very thin, but Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford are the best interior DL in the conference no contest and they just don’t get moved. Combined with a secondary that is frankly best at coming down hill in run support, no back has really found consistent success attacking the front.
The vulnerability is that this team is extremely aggressive. Read-options, draws, and quarterback scampers can punish them for it. But you can’t run in the interior of this D and expect success. And so far no one’s had much success attacking the edge either.
What’s the overall pulse of the Texas Tech fanbase on the last summer of expansion madness?
Tech fans, like all Big 12 fans, are relieved to be positioned so well for the future. I think losing Texas sucks because Tech has always struggled to feel out a second true rival, but bringing in the caliber of schools the Big 12 did and killing the PAC12 is just a win. Nobody should love realignment, but you just want to survive it. As long as Tech keeps getting to compete at the highest levels the fanbase is happy.
Thanks again to Michael and The Cotton Club Crew, formerly Viva The Matadors here on the SB Nation network. You can follow them on Twitter/X at @CottonCC_FFSN, and listen to the Cotton Club Crew podcast where ever you get your podcasts.