Photo By Steven Chapman

Choice Cuts: Oklahoma State Week

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive end Talor Nunez and safety Keenon Ward (pictured above) met with local media following practice on Tuesday. Senior writer Joe Yeager, who was on-hand, breaks down what was discussed.

Kingsbury

Practice has been good this week. Good energy, and the cooler temperatures help with that. The upcoming game presents a good opportunity to get a road win over a ranked team, a team Tech hasn’t beaten for a long time.

Oklahoma State’s starting defensive tackles are “a load.” They play hard every single down, and are a threat even on special teams where they have been involved in blocked kicks. Figuring out how to move those guys has been a real challenge.

D’Vonta Hinton didn’t practice today and probably will not play this week. Kingsbury “hopes” that Hinton will play sometime this season, but it’s a week-to-week situation.

Breiden Fehoko has “come a long way.” When he first arrived at Tech he was trying to win his battles with raw power, but now is playing better with his hands, doing a better job understanding “gap integrity,” and is more of a complete player. Kingsbury believes next season Fehoko will be a “dominant force.”

My Take: I agree. Fehoko is improving and may live up to his billing next season.

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The scout team has a “really good group” of players who could help next season. Eli Howard, Ivory Jackson, Noah Jones, Houston Miller and Kaleb Hill all drew praise from Kingsbury. Coach Patrick is excited to get those players some reps in spring to see what they can do.

Ivory Jackson is at defensive tackle and his proving difficult to block. Jackson’s weight is up to the 275-280 range.

My Take: Obviously we’ll have to see what Jackson and those other players can do, but outside of Ondre Pipkins the defensive line doesn’t lose much and should be an improved unit next season.

Pat Mahomes has been practicing “by far the best he has since the injury [against Kansas],” although he’s still not 100 percent, firing everything he’s got on a regular basis. Kingsbury hopes that translates against Oklahoma State.

Mahomes is working to “take what the defense gives,” but he hasn’t had a lot of help on offense, and this may be causing Mahomes to think he has to “do everything himself.” The lack of explosive plays in the run game and the passing game are hurting the offense. When defenses drop and cover against Tech, the offense needs to make them pay in the form of runs of 15 to 20 yards. Instead, most of Tech’s runs have been in the two- to six-yard range. The offensive line is not “moving guys,” like it should, and the young backs are still trying to “figure things out.” Last year’s line and DeAndre Washington would have been able to punish defenses for dropping. Hopefully, it all gels this week against Oklahoma State.

My Take: With Oklahoma State’s strength at defensive tackle, this will be a difficult week for the line and backs to gel.

On special teams units that have not improved, the solution will to bring in better players at “the end of this deal.”

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Kingsbury has seen some “development” in Justin Stockton over the last couple of games that he likes. Last year the presence of DeAndre Washington in two-back sets helped Stockton, but this season teams are keying on him in passing situations.

Derrick Willies shows some great things at times, but has got to protect the ball better. He plays fast, and blocks hard. Kingsbury believes Willies could make a jump next season similar to Dede Westbrook at Oklahoma.

My Take: I agree. Willies’ season has really been short circuited by injury problems, but if he can stay healthy next season he will be a star in the Big 12.

The status of Devin Lauderdale and Gary Moore is unchanged.

Keenon Ward

The defense played hard and energetically against Texas but didn’t execute at a high enough level. Ward was pleased with concluding the game getting four straight stops and giving the offense the chance to win the game.

Ward believes Oklahoma State is a good team but that they are “overlooking” Tech.

Ward and Oklahoma State’s James Washington are from the same part of Texas but never came into contact with one another.

Mason Rudolph is one of the best quarterbacks Tech will see all year. He’s an “NFL quarterback” in that he will throw the deep ball, but will also check down to intermediate and short routes. He’s “a smart kid.”

My Take: It sounds like Rudolph is doing the things many folks would like to see Pat Mahomes do.

James Washington is “the best deep threat in the Big 12.” Tech will bracket him on the deep stuff.

Talor Nunez

The entire defense, from D-line to linebackers to defensive backs all did their job against Texas in the fourth quarter. They fought hard even though the scoreboard was against them.

Coach Kingsbury has been praising the defense’s mental toughness, their ability to get on the field, do their job and get off the field lately. Coach Gibbs has done a great job of keeping the defense focused.

David Gibbs told the defense that all they need to do is replicate the final four series against Texas throughout the game. That is the ideal, obviously recognizing that “bad things” inevitably do happen in games.  


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