Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: Oklahoma Week

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, safety Jah'Shawn Johnson (pictured above), defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko and linebacker Malik Jenkins met with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.


Practices this week have been physical. The players are embarrassed by the West Virginia beat-up. The OU game is an opportunity turn things around.

My Take: Kingsbury is certainly right in saying that an upset of OU would cure a lot of ills. But is that even possible? That is the question.

Monday practices are typically “run-throughs,” light on contact, but on this Monday there were some physical periods. The coaches felt the team needed to get back to a “training camp” type of atmosphere.

My Take: I’m not sure this will do any good—hopefully it doesn’t backfire by wearing the team out before OU shows up—but the coaching staff obviously had to try something different. The status quo was not an option.

The OU offense protects the football well. They have a good screen game, great running backs, a great tight end and dynamic receivers. Lincoln Riley has done a good job of using play action, bootlegs and screens.

Samaje Perine being out with an injury is cold comfort when the Sooners have so many good running backs. Joe Mixon is as good as any back in the country.

Tech is fortunate to have experienced backups on the O-line so hopefully the loss of Justin Murphy for the first half of the OU game won’t be too traumatic.

The chief area for improvement in offensive line play is for players to stick with their training and with the fundamentals when the going gets tough. Offensive linemen have a tendency to “go rogue” in difficult circumstances.

The starting lineup of the offensive line against OU will likely be finalized tomorrow. Baylen Brown can play all positions well, and after that it’s a matter of finding the “next best guy.”

Pat Mahomes is practicing more this week than he did the last two. Kingsbury believes part of Mahomes’ problem against West Virginia was a lack of practice time.

Dylan Cantrell and Derrick Willies are both working out and will be “game-time decisions” for OU.

Keenon Ward is working out some, but Kingsbury sounded doubtful that he will be ready for the Sooners. Kisean Allen should be good to go though.

Da’Leon Ward is a player whose positive attitude makes it likely that he will improve. Kingsbury hopes to get Ward more touches against Oklahoma.

My Take: If you want to get the ground game going I think you almost have to give Ward extended reps. Felton and Stockton really haven’t shown too much against the better opponents.

Jah’Shawn Johnson

The team’s mentality right now is about “bouncing back” and “showing what they’re really about.” The team hasn’t played its best football yet.

Except for a couple of plays—one a deep post, and the other, featuring poor tackling—the defense did well against West Virginia’s deep passing attack.

Taylor Nunez

This week’s practices have been “pretty intense.”

The D-line was “good and bad” against West Virginia, but pretty much did its job. But the inconsistency is inexcusable. There shouldn’t be any busted gap assignments. There is a focus on keeping everybody’s morale up and staying positive.

My Take: It’s refreshing to hear Nunez mention that morale could be an issue. The vast majority of players—and coaches—I’ve dealt with over the years like to pretend that there’s never any problem with morale when logic says that cannot be true. That type of rhetoric is either a cover-up or it bespeaks a flight from reality.

Malik Jenkins

Last week was “rough.” Oklahoma represents an opportunity.

Tech didn’t “fight back” against West Virginia, and didn’t bring the usual energy to the game.

Either Tech can “man up and win the rest of the games,” or they can “not fight back and get the same result as last week.” Some players are determined to win the rest of the games and he hopes everybody feels that way.

My Take: The OU game is perilous, and comes at the crucial moment in Tech’s season. The Sooners are capable of beating Tech by 50-plus points, which would finish off this team. On the other hand, a heroic Red Raider effort resulting in a huge upset could be salvation. I would hope every player, not just Malik Jenkins, recognizes what’s at stake and comes to the field with a take-no-prisoners mindset.

We knew what West Virginia was going to do and still didn’t still didn’t execute. Likewise, Tech will know what Oklahoma is going to do and it will come down to execution.

My Take: Jenkins made this statement with a great deal of conviction, so I tend to believe him. When you know what’s coming and don’t stop it, it could be failure to execute or it could be the inability to execute, which is determined largely by talent or its lack. Was West Virginia 31 points more talented than Tech, though? That’s difficult for me to swallow.

Breiden Fehoko

This week there has been major improvement in players’ attitudes, “want-to,” and “buying in,” and that’s due to Kingsbury and his staff getting after everybody.

My Take: Breiden Fehoko, like all the Fehokos, is a loyal soldier. He always rides for the brand, and that’s an admirable thing. Graham Harrell was the same.

These last six games are all about team character. It’s time to “buckle down and play their best football.”

In an 11 o’clock game where it’s 90 degrees guys are not going to “be there mentally.” From now on, the players need to “be there” regardless of all circumstances.

My Take: I’ll leave this one to the subs and posters.

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