This week gives what is likely the only chance we will have for a road win all year, and this week we are joined by Seth Jungman, site manager over at Viva The Matadors. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us today. Read my responses to his questions here.
RCT: The last few years, Tech fit right in with the rest of the Big 12, where high-flying offenses were so common that defense didn't really seem to matter. Now that the defenses seem to be getting stronger, how have Kliff Kingsbury and the TTU staff been able to keep up (or have they)?
VTM: Texas Tech has really struggled to get a handle on the defense, but it really isn't a Kliff Kingsbury issue, it's been an issue for a while. The Texas Tech defense has never been elite, sometimes pretty good, but never elite. I've always thought, and it isn't an original thought because I heard it from Barry Switzer one day, which is that the teams that have the most talent on defense are the best defenses. It ain't rocket science. Switzer acknowledged that teams could do things offensively with less talent, but when a team is chasing, on defense, it's not so simple. Texas Tech is still working on getting enough depth to be consistent.
RCT: It looks like the big personnel move of the week is Josh Outlaw moving from OL to DT. Given the defensive struggles this year, is this more of a desperation "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" type of move, or do you expect to actually expect to see him make an impact?
VTM: Outlaw won't even play this year on the defensive line most likely. This is probably a long-term offseason sort of move as Outlaw hasn't been able to crack the rotation on the offensive line and like a lot of players, just wants to get on the field. Last week, Texas Tech didn't really play two defensive linemen, Rika Levi and Marcus Smith, due to off-field things and hopefully those players have corrected those issues. Still, to the point in question #1, Texas Tech just doesn't have the depth to have a two-deep that can play with anyone. The Red Raiders have an okay first team of guys that can get things done, but when a defense is running 100 plays, then it takes a toll.
RCT: It seems like Texas Tech is once again lighting it up on offense, except for the huge glaring problem: turnovers. Does there seem to be a trend to these, such as errors by the wide receivers, bad decisions by the QB, or miscommunication between both, or have the Red Raiders just been really unlucky so far this year?
VTM: Webb isn't progressing like a lot of fans thought or hoped that he would make. I think the general idea is that if Webb had progressed, then Texas Tech might be thinking about a few more wins this year. And yes, the turnovers have been bad and head-scratching a good part of the time. Webb will just make mistakes, sometimes glaring mistakes. I don't necessarily think it a communication issue, but an issue of just making the wrong read or making a physical error, like under-throwing a receiver or not throwing to the sideline to protect the ball.
RCT: The big strength of the KU offense is the run, with 3 strong rushers in Tony Pierson, Corey Avery and De'Andre Mann. Who on the Red Raider defense is best suited to stop this three-headed monster?
VTM: Um, well, slow down, but I don't think that Texas Tech will stop those three running backs. The Texas Tech rush defense has been pretty abysmal. I think the defense is making more plays, like tackles for loss and sacks, so that is an improvement, but in terms of overall yards, it's not happening. Still, Kansas fans can expect to see quite a bit of Branden Jackson and hopefully both Levi and Smith will get some time. Demetrius Alston was in crutches earlier this week so he might not play and he is part of that defensive line rotation. Jackson Richards got the start in place of Levi last week and you can also look to Keland McElrath to make some plays. The linebackers sometimes have a real tough time making plays. Pete Robertson, an outside linebacker, can be neutralized in stopping the run and it would be to Texas Tech's benefit if they sent Cummings back to pass more than they ran. Sam Eguavoen sometimes has a tough time reading defenses and I think the best run-stopping linebacker is V.J. Fehoko, a senior and transfer from Utah.
RCT: The Jayhawks are contemplating following in the footsteps of Texas Tech in terms of their coaching search, in hiring a younger product of the program that understands the tradition and unique challenges of the program. What advice would you give KU fans as we go through the coaching search process?
VTM: Every program is a bit different. The Texas Tech basketball program was a complete dumpster fire after Pat Knight and Billy Gillispie. There were two candidates for the job, the assistant coach, Chris Walker, who took over when Gillispie was terminated, who was a terrific recruiter, but was pretty much completely unproven as a head coach. And then, there was Tubby Smith, recently fired from Minnesota. For my money, I think the administration made the right call. The basketball program needed a steady hand. Tubby isn't flashy or exciting like Kliff Kingsbury and he's not an alum or anything like that. He's just a fantastic basketball coach and Texas Tech needed some stability. With Kingsbury, I think the team needed to rally the troops and get the entire fanbase on the same page. Texas Tech fans were, and some still are, upset at the Leach termination. With the hire of Kingsbury, I think you see a group of fans that are pretty much on the same page, despite the 2-4 record.
RCT: Bonus Question - Prediction for the game? This is one of the few games on the schedule where it doesn't seem pre-ordained that the Jayhawks will lose. Does this game scare you as a TTU fan?
VTM: Yeah, this game scares me, but I'm a bit gun-shy at this point in a 2-4 season. The ability of Kansas to limit possessions isn't good for an inconsistent Texas Tech offense. Still, I think that Texas Tech gets a 10 point win on Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to Seth for joining us today. You can check out all their coverage of this weekend over at Viva The Matadors, and you can follow Seth on Twitter at @SethC_J