Friday, September 13, 2013

What Now?

Upstairs being the Coordinators Box

I had my suspicious that by the end of the night Baker Mayfield might turn back into a true freshman walkon pumpkin.  With a final line of 21/40 for 216 yards, 1 TD and 3 picks, I think it's safe to say that's exactly what happened.  Having Davis Webb come in to save the day probably didn't help his case for starting next weekend, either.

However, what I didn't expect, and what most of you guys probably didn't either, was for Trevone Boykin to look equally as bad, if not worse;  Had I not known beforehand, I would have been confused which one was the true freshman and which one had 7 starts under his belt, including that Thanksgiving night whipping in Austin.  For the night he was 23/36 for 194 yards and 2 picks, including a MISERABLE momentum killing throw deep in Tech territory that could've changed the outcome had he been a bit more careful.  He did rush 20 times for 101 yards, but most of those were instances where he took off a bit too early, or was running for his life behind our shoddy offensive line.  And I won't even talk about the slide on 3rd and short.  The fact is, Boykin looked like a deer in the headlights all evening, completely skipping his checkdowns in order to take off to try and gain yardage with his feet.  He's not the most gifted passer in the world, but if he's not even going to be willing to try, you may as well line up Brandon Carter in the Wild Frog all night.

But was it all really his fault?  I'm not so sure.

The biggest thing TCU fans will be talking about today was how the refs from the Buffalo Wild Wings commercials showed up in Lubbock last night.  Seriously, there were times when all that was missing were sprinkler heads popping up in the middle of the field.  And yes, there were some MISERABLE calls both ways, but the most untimely seemed to effect us. Four stick out for me, and I'll quickly run thru them before I get to the real point of why I'm up late writing this.  1) The called back punt return TD (Weird, weird call, but TECHNICALLY within the rules.  I say this one worked in our favor in a roundabout way, considering we still scored on the play and wore down the Tech defense in the process.  Carter has been at this long enough to know that he can't move his arms on a catch, but we saw what he's capable of - minus the 1 fumble - so I guess you have to keep him back there), 2) The dropped goal line fumble for Tech (The refs got it right, but our team got it wrong by not jumping on the ball.  The only reason I'm blaming the officials here is because the side judge signaled TD when it was clear there was a discrepancy, so there could've been confusion.  Still, a lot of that is coaching because, if there's anything you should be teach on defense it's to swarm the ball, no matter the circumstances), 3) The muffed punt/interference (The most egregious of the night as Kindred was nowhere near the return man.  In fact, the return man ran into his OWN defender who was in the process of blasting Kindred out of the way.  The ball clearly bounced off of him and TCU recovered, but the refs threw that phantom flag.  From what I understand, this is not a reviewable play, but who really knows after everything else last night.  If you want to miss the forest for the trees and solely blame the officials for the loss, this is the play that ultimately did us in),  and 4) The fumble that wasn't (Bad call, and TCU should've been given possession, but this one was one of those gray area "sufficient video evidence" situations where WE all could tell the ball was out, but it's possible the refs didn't).

One could make the argument that, had any of those calls swung our way, TCU could've won the game.  But, while getting a W would've obviously been nice, it would've just been a bandaid on the bullet hole that is our offensive "strategy."  Emphasis on the OFFENSIVE part of that, because I'm not sure I've ever been more offended by being associated with TCU Football in my life, at least from a strictly on the field standpoint.

Let's talk a little more about Boykin.  So, obviously, a big advantage he gives our offense is that he can scramble to make plays.  This is what kept us in the LSU game and how he won us games last year.  But, he's perfectly capable of throwing the ball.  In fact, everything you read in the newspaper and everything that came out of camp this summer was how much he's "improved his throwing motion."  Yet, of his 20 runs last night, I'd have to wager at least 15 of those weren't by design and were simply situations where he made one read, and tucked and ran.  So this tells me one of four things:  either everything written about TB over the past few months was a complete lie, that the coaching staff  tried to reel him in and have him at least attempt to pass the ball and he ignored them, that TB would love to have been more two-dimensional but poor line play didn't allow him to be, or that the staff did nothing and that this was all part of some "masterplan."  If you ask me, I think it was a lot of #3 and a little of #4.  Our offensive line play was, in a word, nauseating.  There is no excuse for false starts in the quantity that they came in last night.  Zero.  Tech's stadium wasn't even full.  There were 58,000 people there.  Sure, they were fired up and excited, but you know who else is fired up and excited?  EVERY SINGLE FANBASE IN THE BIG 12 NOT CALLED KANSAS.  Ames, IA will be loud. Stillwater, OK will be loud.  Austin had 100,000+ last year, and while DKR isn't a stadium known for being loud, being in a confined area with 100,000 having normal, pleasant conversations is as loud as what they had last night just due to sheer numbers.  It was PATHETIC.  And it's not like we're running out a bunch of gumshoes - Three of the five started last year and Dunbar is a Senior.  Joey Hunt is the only fresh face out there, and he was arguably the most impressive.  Aviante Collins was noticeably rattled.  Stupid, bonehead penalties come down to coaching, plain and simple, and we were let down last night.

I don't want this to seem like I'm completely discounting the fact that maybe Tech's defense is actually kinda sorta good, because they are.  At times it was like they were in the huddle with us.  (Haverty?).  They played a VERY big part in this loss and, despite a not-set-in-stone QB situation, they should feel extremely optimistic going forward because Kingsbury will find a starter under center.  But when on seemingly every drive outside of one you're either telegraphing your plays, taking dumb penalties or turning the ball over, you'd make the Tri Delt powder puff scout team defense look good.  When it boils down to it, the problem is this:  We have to upgrade our offensive coordinator situation, because if you're going to have two of them and one of them isn't named Justin Fuente, it's apparently not going to work.  God Bless the concept of AnBurnsOn, but it needs to go away.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they lost Pachall 5 days before the game and they had to completely retool the offense.  But... REALLY?!?!  Ignoring the fact that Boykin played 2/3 of a season - AMPLE time to understand his strengths and weaknesses - after Casey's off field struggles, if the staff didn't at least have a Cliffs Note offense for Boykin thrown together just in case Pachall didn't make it the entire season, they should be fired.  You MUST have a fallback option (pun intended, because, seriously, did we run the read option more than 5 times?  Isn't that one of the things you do with a running QB that was either not passing the ball or having little success when he did pass it?)

I'm probably higher on Deuce Boogie than a lot of folks here.  With the way our offensive line played last year and has been playing this year, you'd never be able to maximize Pachall's talent because he'd never have the time.  We KNOW Boykin has the presence to go out and win games, and win them in hostile environments.  That's why I'm hesitant to pin too much of the blame on him for last night. I mean, is LaDarius Brown even alive?  Why weren't more balls thrown Cam White's way?  Why did we wait until the 4th quarter to really start pounding the ball?  Is anybody listening to me?

So where does it all go from here?  Who among you can reasonably forsee bowl eligibility for this team unless there's a massive overhaul?  Think about it - to become eligible, TCU would need to beat 5 of the following 6 teams:  SMU, @KSU, KU, @ISU, TX, WVU.  You SHOULD beat SMU, Kansas and WVU, but as Boykin has yet to win a home game, none of those are gimmes.  You can possibly beat ISU, although Ames is a tough road venue.  So that leaves splitting at Kansas State and home against Texas.  The Wildcats obviously fell on their faces a bit in their opener against North Dakota State, but recovered to beat La-Laf last weekend.  They aren't good, but it's a road game and never underestimte the power of the crypt keeper on the sidelines.  And Texas... well, we all know what's going on at Texas.  But, that's going to be a team with a Coach fighting for his job in what will wind up being at best a 50/50 crowd at Amon G once our fans jump ship after last night and start wholesaling their tickets to away fans.  Do you feel good about either of those?  Because I sure don't.  5-7 looks reasonable, but 4-8 is definitely in play.

BUT...maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe last night will be a wakeup call.  Maybe the guys took the loss of Pachall a lot harder than I would've anticipated and a letdown game was inevitable.  And Poor Trevone once again only had minimal time to readjust to being a QB after beginning the season as a RB/WR hybrid that would randomly be thrust into action under center as the coaching staff saw fit.  On the plus side, outside of tackling on the edges of the field, our defense was stout and, if I'm Texas Tech, I'm putting down the Kingsbury Kool Aid for a minute and considering my QB situation going forward because, once TCU took Amaro away, Mayfield folded and the run game only managed 43 yards total;  at one point in the second half, Tech had 17 total post-halftime yards.  Sure, Fields looked average, but he was being chipped by a RB on most plays, and Kevin White continues to be the ultimate boom or bust player, both winning the game with that fantastic pick and losing it by getting burned in the end zone, but if our offense can do ANYTHING at all, the D will keep us in a lot of the aforementioned games.  Are they good enough to let us hang around Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State?  I'm not getting my hopes up because, per the rules, you have to score more points than the other team to win, but sure, why not?  Think of last year - just when we'd given up hope after Iowa State, Boykin comes out and blasts Baylor to pieces.  I wouldn't put my hard earned on cash on a full scale recovery, but stranger things have happened in college football.

I hate the early season off week as much as anyone, especially after a performance like last night, but if there was ever a good time for this team to be able to regroup, it's right now.  TCU is significantly better than SMU, but as we all know that game comes with certain undefinable aspects that can swing the outcome any which way.  Like many of you, I probably said, "I'M DONE, WHO WANTS MY SEASON TICKETS ON THE CHEAP?" about a dozen times last night while watching our offense move the ball -5 yards at a time, but I wasn't serious.  What is serious?  The SMU game.  For what it means for this season going forward, this is the biggest TCU/SMU game in recent memory.  We all need to show up.  Hopefully our offense will too...or it's gonna be a LONG season.


ATX Houston said...

Totally agree. The other question is for the fans... with the season already on the line and a number of difficult home games ahead will people even show up? My season tickets are firmly in my hand, but I don't know if I can take another season of home losses every weekend.

LezzGetFroggy said...

Excellent assessment of both the game and our upcoming season, although I do not see us going 4-8.

Rotten Arsenal said...

Awwwwwww.... fluffy.