All season long we've been delivering to you each week the pressure points for that week's game, the position or position group that we think will be under pressure the most in the act of delivering a win on Saturday. But this week we are breaking away from that.
Against Texas Tech, the number one scoring offense (46.2 points) in the Big 12, the number two total offense (587.1-yards per game) in the FBS of NCAA Division I, and the number one passing offense (485.8) in the FBS of NCAA Division I then everybody is involved in trying to defend that. That includes the offense as they will have the huge advantage against the worst scoring defense in the Big 12 and the worst total defense in the Big 12 and the FBS.
When you play the Texas Tech Red Raiders and that wild offense it is all hands on deck like last season in the 70-53 Oklahoma State win over Tech in Lubbock.
"That was a nightmare," linebacker Devante Averette said. "They had that highlight with Jakeem Grant catching the ball and scoring and it was played over and over and it was tough to watch. We want revenge, we want revenge and we have to get those numbers (allowed by the defense) down. We have to settle this on defense."
Averette is one of eight seniors that factor on the defense this Saturday in what will be the final game for all at Boone Pickens Stadium. Averette, star linebacker Jordan Burton, free safety Jordan Sterns, cornerback Ashton Lampkin, nickel back Lenzy Pipkins, and defensive tackle Motekiai Maile are senior starters, and then there are several prominent back-ups in defensive tackle Eric Davis and strong safety Derrick Moncrief. None of them want to finish in that stadium by giving up the kind of numbers that the Red Raiders generally roll up.
"(Patrick Mahomes) will use his feet to make a play if he has to or will throw it downfield just to get the yardage they need for a first down," said Burton, who will be involved in all kinds of plans on defense to contain the Tech quarterback and his playmakers. "He's got receivers that will go up and get the ball for him and that can make plays in space. We've got to be aware of his pocket presence. We've just got to try and contain him and lock down some of the better receivers."
Averette will be involved as well and he admits that when Texas Tech breaks down it gets worse. Let's say big Vincent Taylor breaks through and chases Patrick Mahomes out of the pocket. Now it's a scramble situation and Mahomes is really good at it. He can go crazy and as defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer pointed out to the media he is especially accurate when he throws on the dead run.
"Sometimes it's just backyard football. When (Mahomes) gets out of his first read, he moves all over the place and a receiver will make a play," Averette explained. "We've got to be able to adjust and get pressure on him to keep him in the pocket. He's a great quarterback. He's leading the NCAA in some statistics and their receivers run crisp routes and make plays so we've got to keep pressure on him."
This is the kind of matchup that really keeps coaches up at night, popping Tums antacids all week long, or both.
"I think we've given up more big plays over the top than I've wanted this year," Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy said. "If you eliminate some of those and play in the intermediate part of the field, we've been OK. In playing (Texas Tech), you have to be sound in three-man, four-man, five-man pressure, and you have to be balanced at how you attack their offense."
"In this league, you see it all," Spencer said. "This is totally different. Mahomes is an outstanding player with outstanding targets and it's kind of hard to get a grasp on them. Conceptually they have concepts, but then their biggest plays come off of when he scrambles around and creates a different play from it, so we have to be very disciplined and stay with the receivers a long time. We'll have to show him a couple of different looks, confuse the looks for him, but it's the reason he's leading the nation in all of those offensive categories. He's a great talent and he's going to be a tough task for us."
It's a tough task for anybody, although TCU and Texas have fared a little better the last two weeks using more three-man front and a spy on Mahomes. Gundy didn't really want to elaborate on that scheme so maybe it is something in the works for Saturday, quite possibly for Jordan Burton.