Kiss of Death: Wickline; 82 TTU?; TCU-WVU

KISS OF DEATH: Who's got Wickline's back?; Wrecked Tech; TCU-WVU.

WHO'S GOT WICKLINE'S BACK?

The lawsuits filed by Oklahoma State against Joe Wickline and by Wickline against the Oklahoma State regents and athletic director Mike Holder over whether Wickline has play-calling duties at Texas are no laughing matter any longer.

And it appears Wickline is on his own in this fight.

When I asked Charlie Strong about the matter Monday, Strong said, “At the end of the day that's why he (Wickline) has a lawyer. I'm concerned because he's on our staff and I know who he is. He's my guy."

When I asked athletic director Steve Patterson on Monday if UT was aware of the buyout in Wickline’s contract at OSU at the time of his hire, Patterson said, “We understood the issue, and we’ll leave it up to the attorneys. Joe’s former employer and Joe are both represented by competent folks, and we’ll let it sort out where it sorts out.”

When I asked Patterson if he was confident in Wickline’s case or about the possibility of Texas simply settling the lawsuit on Wickline’s behalf, Patterson responded, “We’re not a party to the claim. So I’m not concerned with it.”

KOD’S TAKE:

Are you kidding? Texas pays $4.375 million to buy out Charlie Strong’s contract at Louisville, and Patterson is “not concerned” about Wickline potentially having to pay Oklahoma State a contract buyout that is more ($593,478) than his salary this season at Texas ($575,000)?

If I’m Joe Wickline or even Charlie Strong and hear that, I’m ready to throw Patterson in the Pit with Pat Moorer.

(By the way, Shawn Watson makes $650,000 annually. DC Vance Bedford is the highest-paid assistant, making $800,000 annually.)

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WHO'S ON FIRST?

Is the autonomy Charlie Strong gives his assistant coaches causing a breakdown in communication that leads to mistakes and breakdowns on the field?

Strong said Monday his position coaches are the ones who determine when players from their position groups go in and out of games.

The subject came up when Strong was asked why RB D’Onta Foreman, a seldom-used, true freshman running back, was on the field for a reverse that resulted in a lost fumble in Kansas State territory when Foreman and WR Jaxon Shipley couldn’t execute the exchange.

Strong said he doesn’t overrule his assistants in that regard.

“That’s why they are coaching here,” Strong said.

KOD’S TAKE:

Well, Foreman’s pitch was late, and Shipley had to reach back toward his hip for the ball. It turned into a critical turnover for Texas at the Kansas State 43, on first down, on UT’s first offensive possession of the second half.

Might have wanted to have senior RB Malcolm Brown or junior Johnathan Gray in the game, handling an exchange they’ve handled before – when you’re offense has NO margin for error. Just leaves the coaching staff open to more second-guessing and the appearance of being disorganized and not paying attention to details.

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IF HE DOESN'T KNOW ...

Taylor Doyle said the two false start penalties on UT’s first offensive possession of the game were probably because “it’s hard to hear the snap count in loud environments.”

When I asked him if Texas was on an audible count or silent count (UT was on an audible count), Doyle said, “I couldn’t tell ya.”

KOD’S TAKE:

Huh? Doyle’s the center. He better know. Either that, or he considers that G14 Classified.

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DEPTH? WHAT DEPTH?

With WR/KR Rodrick Bernard tearing his ACL, he becomes the 16th player to be put on the sidelines this season. Here’s a list of players who have fallen by the wayside since last season:

FB Chet Moss (dismissed)

S Leroy Scott (dismissed)

S Chevoski Collins (dismissed)

LB Kendall Thompson (medical retirement)

OT Kennedy Estelle (dismissed)

LB Deoundrei Davis (dismissed)

WR Montrel Meander (dismissed)

WR Kendall Sanders (dismissed)

RB Joe Bergeron (dismissed)

RB Jalen Overstreet (dismissed)

QB David Ash (head injury)

C Dom Espinosa (broken ankle)

CB Sheroid Evans (knee)

DT Desmond Jackson (lis franc foot injury)

OT Desmond Harrison (suspended/redshirting)

KOD'S TAKE:

Depth? What depth? It’s been a long year.

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10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT Texas Tech

#1 … Starting QB Davis Webb left with 10:42 left in the third quarter of an 82-27 loss at TCU with a left ankle injury. His status for Saturday’s game against the Longhorns hasn’t been made clear by Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. Charlie Strong said Texas will prepare for Webb.

#2 … Webb was replaced last week against TCU by true freshman QB Patrick Mahomes of Whitehouse, who went 5 of 11 passing for 45 yards with a TD pass and INT. He added seven carries for 18 yards.

For the season, Mahomes is 12 of 23 passing (52.2 percent), for 119 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs and has run 16 times for 35 yards (2.2 ypc).

#3 … Mahomes became the fourth QB to take the field for Tech in the past 16 games (Webb, Michael Brewer and Baker Mayfield are the others).

#4 … Junior DE Pete Robertson has 8 sacks - tied for the Big 12 lead with Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah.

#5 … After suffering an 82-27 pummeling by TCU in Fort Worth last weekend, Texas Tech is giving up 42.5 points per game, dead last in the Big 12 in scoring defense and 123rd of 125 teams in Division I. Only Georgia State (43.6) and SMU (48.0) are giving up more points per game.

#6 … Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury won’t be able to fire his defensive coordinator at the end of the season – because he’s already fired him.

DC Matt Wallerstedt was fired in September – after a 49- loss to Arkansas in which the Razorbacks ran for 438 yards - but Wallerstedt wasn’t even fired for that performance. He was forced to resign after it was reported that Wallerstedt showed up to work under the influence of an unknown substance.

#7 … Wallerstedt was replaced by co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Smith, giving Tech its sixth defensive coordinator in the last six years.

#8 … Texas Tech is dead last in the Big 12 in the following categories:

Scoring defense (42.5 ppg)

Rushing defense (247.2 ypg)

Total defense (507.4 ypg)

Punt returns (2.3 ypr)

Turnover margin (minus-12)

Pass efficiency defense (149.4)

Opponent first downs (215)

Time of possession (25:27).

#9 … Needless to say the 82 points given up by Texas Tech last week vs TCU is a school and Big 12 record.

#10 … Don’t look for Kliff Kingsbury to be on any hot seats in Lubbock.

The Tech faithful are going to be patient with Kliff, and, before the season, Tech officials extended Kingsbury’s contract from 2017 through 2020. It’s a deal that totals $24.2 million and pays Kingsbury an average of $3.5 million per year.

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THREE SECOND-GUESSES ABOUT TEXAS …

#1 … NEED MORE VARIETY IN QB RUN GAME

Texas waited too long to incorporate Tyrone Swoopes into the running game (not a carry until the 2Q). And after Kansas State started handling Texas’ zone read by giving Swoopes a bunch of give reads, Texas didn’t adjust and use other plays in the QB run game.

Where is the quarterback counter (pulling a lineman or move TE to lead Swoopes through a hole)? The quarterback power/isolation (having a FB lead Swoopes)? Or an occasional QB draw?

Swoopes is not a strong perimeter runner, because he lacks speed. He’s best right up between the tackles. These plays have to be incorporated.

#2 … WHERE IS THE SPEED HANDOFF GAME?

Why hasn’t Texas used more of the speed-handoff game or speed sweep game? You look at how Auburn uses the speed handoff and threat of it - probably 9 to 12 times per game, and it pays huge dividends for them.

The defense has to respect it if you have any guys with speed at all. They have to hold a backside defender every time they bring a receiver or back across for a potential handoff.

I have to think Texas could run that stuff with a guy like Marcus Johnson or Armanti Foreman or Jacorey Warrick - even Jaxon Shipley.

Plus, there’s a lot you can add to the speed-handoff series. You can fake it, reverse it - you can even throw out of it. Plus, Texas has run that stuff under Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite. These players already know that stuff in their sleep.

#3 … WHAT’S UP WITH THE THREE AND FOUR-MAN RUSH?

When you have guys in the middle of your defensive line like Malcom Brown and Hassan Ridgeway, you have to win outside. And I’m not seeing urgency from Cedric Reed.

It’s almost as if he thinks Brown and Ridgeway will get home every time or something, and he just end up playing contain. I don’t get it.

I’d start giving some of Reed’s reps to Caleb Bluiett or Shiro Davis (especially if Naashon Hughes is going to keep getting snaps at the Fox end position – and Hughes did not play well vs K-State).

Ced Reed is a great guy. But he’s overthinking everything and not just firing off the ball and getting those long arms of his into offensive linemen. He better pick it up, or he’s going to cost himself a ton of money.

Texas should be able to control most games with its three- and four-man rush thanks to Brown and Ridgeway. And Kansas State ate ‘em up on third-down, because that rush wasn’t getting home.

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THREE THINGS ABOUT THE BIG 12 …

#1 … TCU’S OFFENSE: WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

You want to know if new TCU co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie are having an impact on the success the No. 10 Horned Frogs (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) are having this season?

Under Meacham and Cumbie, TCU has the nation’s MOST IMPROVED offense in terms of total yards and points per game.

* In 2013, TCU averaged 344.8 yards and 25.1 points per game.

* In 2014, TCU is averaging 573 yards and 50.4 points per game.

That is an increase of 228.2 yards and 25.3 points per game. (Yes, TCU has more than doubled its point production from last year so far).

Give the offensive structure credit to Meacham, who was with Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State as tight ends and wide receivers coach from 2005-12 before going to Houston as offensive coordinator in 2013 under Tony Levine.

Many believe Meacham was upset he wasn’t picked by Mike Gundy as offensive coordinator when Gundy picked Mike Yurcich from Division II Shippensburg after discovering Yurcich online while looking at stats.

Give Cumbie credit for the dramatic improvement of QB Trevone Boykin, who has gone from posting 7 TD passes and 7 INTs in 2013 to throwing for 21 TDs and just 3 INTs so far this season.

Boykin is averaging 329.4 yards passing per game after averaging 99.8 yards through the air in 2013 and 171.2 yards through the air in 2012.

Boykin is also averaging 53.4 yards rushing per game. Since 2009, the only QBs to average more than 300 yards passing and at least 50 yards rushing per game are Heisman Trophy winners Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel.

Big-time game this week at West Virginia. If Boykin can lead the Horned Frogs to a win Saturday, TCU will come home for another colossal, Big 12 showdown against Kansas State.

KOD'S Prediction: TCU 44, West Virginia 41

#2 … THE MOUNTAINEERS’ PLAY DEFENSE?

Everyone is focusing on West Virginia QB Clint Trickett and WR Kevin White as the biggest reasons for the Mountaineers’ turnaround this season after going 4-8 (including back-to-back losses to Kansas and Iowa State to end WVU’s 2013 season).

And while Trickett (17 TDs, 5 INTs, 68.3 percent completion) and White (72 catches for 1,047 yards, 8 TDs) have been as good as any QB-WR combo in the country, the WVU defense is stepping up lately.

In a 41-27 victory over Baylor two weeks ago, WVU held the Bears to 95 yards rushing on 42 attempts (2.3 ypc).

In a 34-10 win at Oklahoma State last week, the WVU defense shut out OSU in the second half, including a 52-yard INT return for a TD with 4:44 left by freshman safety Dravon Henry.

Henry also had an INT in the 1Q that stopped an OSU drive in WVU territory.

WVU’s defensive totals vs OSU: 2 INTs, 2 sacks and 2-of-15 third-down conversions by OSU (both coming late in the game).

#3 … TCU IN SEARCH OF FIREWORKS

In an 82-27 victory over Texas Tech, TCU ran out of pyrotechnics that school officials shoot off after the Horned Frogs score. No joke.

Big 12 games this week:

TCU (-5.5) at WVU … The two best defenders in this game will be TCU LB Paul Dawson and WVU S Karl Joseph.

Texas (NL) at Texas Tech … Red Raiders have hit rock-bottom on defense after giving up 82 last week.

Oklahoma State at Kansas State (-14.5) … Bill Snyder’s team is locked in. Give me the Wildcats.

Oklahoma (-16.5) at Iowa State … Cyclones’ offense under Mark Mangino is getting better (as Texas knows)

Kansas at Baylor (-36) … Art Briles has had two weeks to exorcise the loss at WVU

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MY TOP FOUR TEAMS RIGHT NOW

#1 … Mississippi State

Bulldogs have taken down all comers, winning at LSU and beating A&M and Auburn (both by double-digits, when both were ranked).

#2 … Florida State

Road trip to Louisville looks like last challenge of the season for defending national champs (other than legal matters off the field).

#3 … Auburn

Only loss is to No. 1 team (Miss St) with wins over LSU and at K-State. Can validate Top 4 with a win at Ole Miss this week.

#4 … Oregon

Ducks beat Michigan State, then lost LT Jake Fisher for three games to a knee injury, including a loss to Arizona. But Fisher’s back and Ducks are rolling with Stanford up next.

FYI …

Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Michigan State and TCU are bunched up right outside my Top Four and will have chances to move up with big games coming up:

Ole Miss plays Auburn this week.

TCU plays at WVU Saturday.

Notre Dame plays at Arizona State on Nov. 8

Ohio State plays at Michigan State Nov. 8

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WHO I’D INVITE TO NEW YORK RIGHT NOW …

Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss

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GAMES THAT HAVE MY INTEREST THIS WEEK …

Florida State (-3.5) at Louisville (Thursday) … Charlie Strong left Bobby Petrino a defense. Will it be stout enough to derail the Noles?

Stanford at Oregon (-7.5) … The Cardinal have won two in a row. Can Stanford make it three?

Auburn at Ole Miss (-2.5) … That loss by the Rebels at LSU last weekend is the kind that can beat you twice. Big test for Bo Wallace to bounce back.

Arkansas at Mississippi State (-10) … The Razorbacks test everyone’s run defense. I think the Bulldogs will be ready.

Georgia (-13) v Florida … Will Muschamp has never won the Cocktail Party vs his alma mater. Does he go 0-for on his way out of The Swamp?

Utah at Arizona State (-5.5) … This could decide the Pac-12 South. HUGE game. Love Utah QB Travis Wilson and RB Devonte Booker. Could be the Utes’ year after narrow wins over UCLA and USC.

Arizona at UCLA (-6.5) … The Bruins better stand up now or the season goes down as a disaster.

Notre Dame (-14) at Navy … Midshipmen are 4-4. I thought they’d be better and in a position to put Irish on upset alert.

TCU at West Virginia … Might be the best game of the week in college football.

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Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights

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