It's the long awaited Tech week here at Frogs O' War, and as a result I have cause to get in touch with my buddy Seth, lead blogger at SBNation's excellent Texas Tech blog Viva the Matadors (formerly Double T Nation- A good change in my opinion, the Nation thing is overdone). We exchanged Q&As for the purpose of better understanding each other now that the west Texas championship is upon us, my side will be going up at VTM tomorrow.
HawkeyedFrog: So much has happened since we last spoke, wins, losses, personnel changes and even (in your case) blog names. What has been the biggest surprise about your Tech team this season?
Seth: The wins. Quite simply, I wasn't expecting the wins. Wasn't sure about the win against Iowa St. and was darn sure that Texas Tech wasn't going to be West Virginia. And the defense. Yes, Texas Tech has played some weak competition in non-conference play, but the defense is better, significantly better, and that is a total surprise. It may not last all year, but it's been a nice surprise.
HawkeyedFrog: Last year Tech upended a very highly ranked Oklahoma team but promptly nosedived for the rest of the season. How does Tuberville keep the team from get carried away with themselves after a huge win like the thumping of West Virginia last week?
Seth: Put up last year's record after beating OU and the average margin of loss, which was 20 to 51. The last half of the season was an absolute whipping, and if they need any reminders after that, then they can't be helped.
HawkeyedFrog: Sethe Doege... good quarterback, or average quarterback picking on a bad defense? He outplayed Geno Smith last week but did not look good against Oklahoma the week before. Does playing on the road make any difference for him?
Seth: He's right on the edge of a good to average quarterback. Doege had not beat a conference opponent at home until West Virginia, so he's had his struggles as well. If you look at his numbers in conference vs. non-conference or even look at his numbers as the year progressed (September through NOvember) they got progressively worse ( http://www.cfbstats.com/2011/player/700/1018631/passing/split.html ). He has to be better this year if Texas Tech wants to get a few more wins and be bowl eligible.
HawkeyedFrog: Somehow Chad Glasgow leaving Tech to come back to TCU has made both defenses better. I really didn't see that coming. What is the biggest factor in the turnaround for Tech's defense so far this year?
Seth: From the first day that Kaufman arrived, he's preached simplicity and technique. I was watching some video about Kaufman and he also tries to teach the players and if the players can't teach or explain it to the rest of the group, then he starts over. As a former teacher, that's probably a concept that not a lot of coaches employ. I don't know what Glasgow did or didn't do, but the result weren't evident on the field. I think that Glasgow also had a very young defense and they were learning their third system in three years (4-3 to 3-4 to 4-2-5) so he was probably automatically behind the eight ball. Kaufman went back to the 4-3, which most players have a pretty good understanding of what that is. Kaufman doesn't do a lot of exotic or crazy things. He hasn't blitzed a lot, he's played press coverage against West Virginia, but I doubt he does that against TCU, they would be ready for it. He's just had the team ready to play fundamental defense.
HawkeyedFrog: The Tech games were always my favorite when I was little (late eighties, early nineties) as even though we didn't win particularly often the games were really exciting. How excited are you to renew the rivalry with TCU, and are you guys doing anything special the last week of the season for the next fifty years?
Seth: I'm very much looking forward to letting that rivalry grow and start playing again. I am very happy that TCU is part of the conference and for two programs that are probably struggling to find a rivalry game, this makes a ton of sense (at least in football, although we can eventually argue about who has the worst basketball program) to let the two most Western teams in the Big 12 really dig into these games. I think it's great for both programs.
HawkeyedFrog: This will be Tech's first trip to TCU since the ugly beauty of a game that was 12-3. Now you have a coach who would love to be in a 12-3 game (as long as he was on the winning side). What's your score prediction this Saturday and how do you think the rest of Tech's season plays out record wise?
Seth: I see this game flipping on a field goal. I think both teams are pretty even in terms of statistics. When either quarterback doesn't turn the ball over too much, both teams win. I could see a 24-27 game and I'll pick Texas Tech for no other reason than I'm a fan, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if TCU won this game too. As far as the rest of the season (which is @ K-State, Texas, Kansas, @ Oklahoma St. and Baylor), I think Texas Tech can win at least 3 of those games. UT isn't as bad as they showed last Saturday and the'll be back and I don't know what to make of Oklahoma St. just yet. I was at a 7.5 over/under for the year and I think I was under, so I may be pleasantly surprised.
HawkeyedFrog: And there you have it Frog fans, both sides are anticipating this game being tight and exciting, so if you're in Fort Worth get there early and be loud- this is one we'll be talking about for a long time to come. Our thanks to Seth and check out Viva the Matadors for all things Texas Tech.