It’s Texas Tech week, and while I don’t want to say that I’m fraternizing with the enemy, I have a soft spot in my heart for those guys over at Viva the Matadors. So much so, that I got to have a friendly chat with not just one, but two dirt pirates about the game this weekend. Seriously, they do some of the best work of all of the SBnation blogs, so go and give them a look sometime. Anyways, please give a warm welcome to managing editor Kyle Jacobson (@_KyleJacobson), as well as a VTM legend who is over at TexasHSFootball.com these days, “Big Game” Hunter Cooke (@HunterCooke45)!
I got the chance to do answer some fun questions over on their site, so go check that out as well!
1) How is everyone over at VTM and in Lubbock feeling about this game on the road in Fort Worth?
Kyle: It’s a difficult time to peg one specific train of thought to our fan base. Many are totally dejected after three straight losses and think we should fire everyone. Others think we should have just beaten the #16 team in the country, who could very well win the Big 12. If there is a consensus, it’s that the game at TCU is winnable, but nobody is willing to predict a win with any amount of confidence.
Hunter: I can't speak for the atmosphere at VTM anymore (R.I.P. me), but everyone in Lubbock is a mixed bag, as usual. There are those calling for the head of David Gibbs, there are those who are still basking in the glow of Patrick Mahomes's ethereal presence on the football field, and there are some who even want Kliff gone. I don't know how confident we are, but I'm feeling okay about being a spoilermaker for a TCU team that's had its recent struggles.
2) Patrick Mahomes is very good (like record breaking good) and he should be known by all of the Big 12 as one of the best quarterbacks in the conference and nation. Can you sum up the play of Mahomes so far into the season? *Preferably with the addition of some sort of wild animal gif*
Kyle: In a word, his play has been majestic. There is nobody in the conference at any position more talented than Mahomes. What’s most staggering is that he is able to produce the offense he does while running for his life and when the defense has no obligation to defend against the run. He is the king of the Big 12, like the majestic lion is king of the food chain. So here’s a lion roaring.
3) Going off of that, I feel like Patty is Texas Tech's offense and defense. By that I mean, it seems that the plan on defense is that Tech is going to win this game by letting Mahomes score more points faster than the other team can on us. It's the second year under DC David Gibbs, so why do you guys think we haven't seen much of any improvement on the Tech defensive side of the ball?
Kyle: The defense this year has been a little baffling. Last year (Gibbs’ first season as defensive coordinator) we didn’t necessarily see tangible improvement in points and yards surrendered. But we saw instant improvement with our ability to force takeaways. That disappeared this season, and I don’t know why that is. We lost our two starting corners and our best linebacker to dismissals, combined with a lot of youth and inexperience among our defensive unit. Two of our starting defensive linemen are transfers who have only been in the program for one year, and we have given freshmen considerable playing time at linebacker (Jonathan Picone and Jordyn Brooks) and defensive back (Desmon Smith). I suppose the most reasonable explanation for the defensive woes is a lack of experience.
Hunter: A lack of depth and some big-time departures. A year ago, Dakota Allen, Nigel Bethel, and Tevin Madison were several names that were improved greatly. All started. All are not on the team any more. We're starting a converted wide receiver, Gary Moore, at defensive end. The interior of our defensive line is better than it has been in past years, but it still needs some work. We're starting a true freshman, Jordyn Brooks, at linebacker. We have so much youth and attrition in personnel on the defensive side of the ball that it's going to take a while to sort it out.
4) Both of our teams have followed similar paths this year. Both were expected to be in the top tier of the conference and compete for the conference title, but now there's a chance that both could barely make it to a bowl. The Frogs and the Red Raiders feature highly productive offenses and underachieving defenses (so far). So how do you think the rest of the season will turn out for these two teams?
Kyle: It all depends on how the loser of this game responds. Texas Tech and TCU have a very similar schedule. Both already have their toughest games out of the way in Oklahoma and West Virginia. They’re yet to play Oklahoma State, Texas, and Baylor (and of course, each other), all of which could perceivably wins or losses. The winner of this game appears to be in good shape to reach a bowl game, while the loser will really have to respond well to adversity and finish the season strong to get there.
Hunter: With a lot of close, disappointing losses that leave fans just enough hope for the next week that they get crushed all over again, AKA the "Roller Coaster Of Getting Your Balls Punched Every Saturday."
5) Alright, let's talk about the matchup. Who is one offensive player, other than Mahomes, and one defensive player that TCU fans should look out for in this one?
Kyle: On offense, it’s slot receiver Jonathan Giles. He’s third in the Power 5 with 131 receiving yards per game and has scored at least one touchdown in all seven games so far this season. His 11 TD’s are tied for most in the FBS, and are first among Power 5 wide receivers. On defense, it’s probably safety Jah’Shawn Johnson, but really nobody has separated themselves from the pack. Johnson was a ball hawk last year, and if we experience any sort of defensive turnaround this year, Johnson forcing turnovers will probably be a major factor in that.
Hunter: Jonathan Giles. He's been outstanding in the slot this entire year, and his athleticism helps out a lot. On defense, Breiden Fehoko. He's a sophomore DT who has improved his play so far, and is the pillar that Gibbs is looking to build this defense around.
6) Is Kenny Trill? What do you think of his play so far, especially in comparison to Mahomes?
Kyle: I think part of the Kenny Trill persona is the inevitable mistakes that coincide with his great moments. Kenny Trill wouldn’t have stuck if he didn’t become Icarus realized, soaring to the heights of Heisman frontrunner to being benched all within about a month’s time. He has put up the gaudy numbers I would expect from him this season, and also a few costly interceptions. I don’t mean this as a slight to Hill, but I’d take Pat any day. Pat does way more with way less in the way of defense supporting him.
Hunter: Kenny is not Trill, and a disgrace to Bun B and the legacy of being Trill.
On a serious note, I think he's okay. He's just not Trevone Boykin. Not many people are.
7) Who are some TCU players that you think will cause problems for the Raiders in this one?
Kyle: Any offensive player with the ball in his hands. Literally anyone. Pick which guy you want to be Big 12 offensive player of the week and give him the ball 25 times. Just be sure to write a classy hand-written letter thanking our defense, like Bill Snyder would do.
Hunter: if they have functioning legs, they are going to be a problem for us.
8) Did Dez catch it?
9) Okay, I had to mention it, but I am sure you still remember the tipped pass to Aaron Green last year. However, TCU has already had a tipped drill TD earlier in the season, so the likelihood of it happening again is minimal. What will you do if TCU pulls out a win on a tipped TD pass?
Kyle: I would laugh. It would mean there are football Gods and they conclusively hate me. If it happens again, I can give up caring about college football for the rest of my life and never be stressed on the weekend ever again.
Hunter: I will go to a smoky bar somewhere in Lubbock, put around 5 bucks into the jukebox and have it play "The Sound of Silence" on repeat, and cry into a Coors Light.
10) If you could describe Baker Mayfield as one item from Wal-Mart, what would it be?
Kyle: A baby pacifier. Not just any pacifier, but one packaged in a really flashy manner, craving all the attention it can possibly get. Also, a pacifier that constructs a manufactured narrative that somehow it has had it harder than other pacifiers despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, while using the disingenuous narrative to attract media attention. In other words, a baby pacifier that tries to be both the victim of the industry while also being insufferably arrogant about its success in the industry.
Hunter: A copy of "The Fantastic Four" on DVD in the bargain bin
11) Let me hear your verdict. How is this game going to play out, and who do you have winning?
Kyle: Texas Tech will do what they do: score a lot of points, surrender a lot of points, and find a way to lose. TCU 52, Texas Tech 42.
Hunter: I actually have Texas Tech winning this one. I think that Kenny Hill is going to make a couple crucial mistakes, and Patrick Mahomes is going to do Patrick Mahomes things. It won't be easy, and it definitely won't be a blowout, but I have much more faith than I did last year or in 2014. Also, see answer #4.
12) Do you dab during games? Why or why not?
Kyle: No. I left the dab in 2015 after dabbing on DKR following Tech’s first win in Austin since I was in kindergarten. I figured it was as good a time as any to retire it.
(Note: not opposed to bringing the dab back under appropriate circumstances [i.e. beating Baylor perhaps])
Hunter: I do not. I look stupid while celebrating without doing dances. I might have to start though, because apparently now you can just dab a bunch of times and it's ironic, which I can use to mask my terrible dance moves.
13) Favorite non-Tech, TCU game of the past 4 years?
Kyle: Are you kidding? Last year’s Alamo Bowl. First, it was Big 12/state of Texas vs. Pac-12/not state of Texas, so I give the nod to TCU. Second, the story-line about the quarterback and what Coach Patterson said to him about his mother watching at halftime was awesome. Finally, they tied a Texas Tech bowl game record with the biggest comeback. That was an exciting game to say the least, and had a lot of cool underlying stories.
Hunter: It's gotta be 61-58. It combines everything I love about TCU in one game: pick-sixes, deep passes, intrigue, and pissing off your comment section.
14) Best thing to do in Lubbock when visiting?
Kyle: Sorry, but I can’t refrain from giving you a solid top five things. And it depends on what you’re into, so I’ll break it down by category:
Music – Visit our historic Depot District, where you’ll see the legacy of hometown hero Buddy Holly plastered all over while enjoying some good live music. We’re the Texas country capitol of the world, some would say.
Scary – *insert Texas Tech defense joke here* But seriously, there is an abandoned railroad overpass called “Hell’s Gate” in east Lubbock. Allegedly, some have heard voices when hanging out there at night. I don’t believe in it, but if that’s your thing it’s worth checking out. It’s right next to the city of Lubbock cemetery where Buddy Holly is buried.
Food – Caprock Café is great, and we just opened the first Walk-Ons Bistreaux, which ESPN named the #1 sports bar in America, outside the state of Louisiana. The best steak I’ve ever had is five minutes west of town at Cagle’s.
Seasonal – Right now, our annual corn maize is open. It’s one of those things that is fun to do exactly once a year, no more, but you really feel like you missed out if you don’t go when it’s open. We also have one hell of a haunted house experience (it’s really four haunted houses) called “Nightmare on 19th Street”. If you’re here in October, check those out.
Outdoors – It wouldn’t be so pleasant in the fall, but Buffalo Springs Lake is a lot of fun in the summer. Palo Duro Canyon is a pretty short drive from Lubbock, and makes for amazing hiking and scenery.
Hunter: Go to Applebee's with everyone from VTM and watch football.
On a serious note, you could visit the Vietnam Archives in the Southwest Collection on campus. You could go to Alamo Drafthouse, or the recently opened World of Beer (big World of Beer fan here). The First Friday Art Trail is also really neat. You can go to The Roof, and check out the sights of the stadium from on top of a converted parking garage. There's lots of stuff to do, you just have to find it.