One of the best (and worst) things about Tech week is the interaction between the two fanbases- I commented a bit on the dynamic here, and I think the dynamic holds up pretty well. If you've lived in Fort Worth for any length of time, you know Tech people (and if you're a tech guy, you know TCU people) and as you go about your business around town in your TCU/Tech colors you've doubtlessly run into the segments of the other fanbase that make you cringe. This is what makes the rivalry intense, but I've been very happy with the level of discourse that we've had with the folks from VTM so far this week, and I hope it keeps up. As I also mentioned in the other thread, Seth C., high overlord of all matters at Viva the Matadors, is the opposing team blogger I probably get along best with, so it's always great to get together with him for a Q&A session. Be sure to pop over to Viva the Matadors tomorrow when my answers to his questions go up!
Hawk: To say that Texas Tech didn't get off to a good start this year seems like an understatement at this point, and even in the non-conference season there were signs against Central Arkansas and UTEP that things weren't quite right in Lubbock this year. What was the preseason expectation that you guys had for the Raiders?
Seth: Oh, the thought was a 7 or 8 win team and now, that looks like a near impossibility. A lot of Texas Tech fans were hoping for a similar season to last year as Kingsbury gets his legs under him from a coaching perspective and that just didn't happen. A huge part of problem was a lack of defensive linemen and the need to recruit four JUCO defensive linemen and you can see where the signs of a team that would have trouble stopping just about any opponent would be problematic.
Hawk: A lot of the general perception about the struggles of Tech's offense this year have fallen on the shoulders of quarterback Davis Webb, who took over the starting position after a great performance against Arizona State- which may have led to the departure of Tech's other starting quarterbacks from last year to Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. How has Webb performed this year from your perspective, compared to his expectations? Do many Tech-sperts think that you kept the wrong quarterback?
Seth: Oh, he's definitely under performed. Or maybe it is correct to say that he hasn't progressed like I thought he would. And he's had just awful games, 4 interception sort of games, and that's really exasperated the problem. There's the other part of the equation in that these sorts of things take time. Boykin is really good this year, but he had two solid years where he was okay, figuring out interceptions and turnovers and not holding onto the ball. That is something that takes a bit of time and it's really hard to be patient for fans. There hasn't been a huge contingent that long for Baker Mayfield to still be around and I really liked Michael Brewer, but he's just been okay statistically, 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio and about 6 yards an attempt. He has more wins at Va. Tech, but has 4 wins (I'm sure that Va. Tech defense gets credit there).
Hawk: It seems like every time we have one of these Q&As I'm asking you about Tech's new defensive coordinator. This was going to be the season that broke the streak, but Matt Wallerstedt resigned for personal reasons, so... Tell me about Texas Tech's new defensive coordinator, and what has he done to improve the unit that got run ragged against Arkansas?
Seth: Mike Smith is the new defensive coordinator and he was the co-defensive coordinator. Smith played linebacker for Texas Tech and was drafted by the Ravens and spent a bit of time in the NFL before retiring and started coaching linebackers and learning under Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine. This is Smith's second year and if something happens to him I'll flip my lid. It's really been some small things, although I think if Teas Tech were to play Arkansas again, maybe the same thing would happen. That was a real bad matchup for Texas Tech especially with a quarterback that was struggling with consistency. The biggest thing is that the team has been more productive in those negative play areas, sacks, tackles for loss and actually getting some turnovers.
Hawk: A surprisingly bright spot for Tech this year appears to have been its running game, as even through Webb's struggles with ball security, Tech is putting together consistent games of good YPC- which hasn't been a regularity out in Lubbock since the days before the Pirate. Who's toting the rock for the Raiders this year, and why are they having so much success?
Seth: DeAndre Washington is having a ton of success for Texas Tech. He's a compact running back that has really terrific vision and he's really explosive as well. He's been just terrific. You can give a lot of credit to the offensive line, which is more veteran than in previous years, or at leas there is more experience. They've gone from being a unit that just worried about protecting two true freshmen quarterbacks last year to protecting the quarterbacks and guiding a more productive running game.
Hawk: The matchup I'm most interested in seeing on Saturday is the TCU offense, which hasn't really been slowed down this year, against the Texas Tech defense that has been getting consistently better after a very rough start. What areas of the Tech defense do you like against their counterparts on the TCU offense?
Seth: Eh, I'm not crazy confident other than Texas Tech having a recent ability to really get to the passer as of late. Pete Robertson and Branden Jackson have led a much better effort recently. That's the best I have. I think the TCU offense is not going to be slowed down all that much, especially with the bigger receivers on the outside.
Hawk: Finally we move to prediction time- Who do you like on Saturday, and what's the score? And what do you think Tech's record will be at the end of the season?
Seth: I'm not feeling real confident about this game. I think TCU poses some real match-up problems for Texas Tech and I don't think that Texas Tech can really keep pace offensively, especially on the road. I think 21 is maybe too much for the spread, but that's going to be pretty close, at least 2 touchdowns, but less than 3.
Hawk: An opposing blogger (not from Kansas) actually picked us to win, I think that says it all about the respect TCU is starting to get this season. My thanks as always go to Seth for answering my questions, and for the Raider take on the game be sure to stop by Viva the Matadors (but be nice).