V.F. Castro provides national perspective on Texas Tech, Big 12


Wreck ‘Em Red interviewed V.F. Castro of Fansided’s Saturdayblitz.com to get a national perspective on Texas Tech, the Big 12 and the rest of college football.

This week, Castro discusses how she sees Texas Tech faring in the second half of the season, Pat Mahomes national profile, how the Texas upset of Oklahoma changes the Big 12 and why so many power five conference schools have fired or lost their coach in the middle of the season.

WER: Texas Tech stands at 4-2 through six games with an almost certain victory against Kansas coming up this week.  That leaves the Red Raiders one win shy of earning a bowl birth.  Which of the remaining games on the schedule (after Kansas) do you see Tech winning and why?

Castro: I honestly believe the rest of Texas Tech’s schedule is open for interpretation. Several of the Big 12’s teams outside Baylor and TCU have had moments where they’ve demonstrated brute strength and complete exposure. I honestly think a lot of luck has also played into the records, but aside from Kansas, the game I think Texas Tech has the best shot of outright winning for a bowl berth is against West Virginia. Texas Tech’s offense is destructive, and I just don’t think the Mountaineers have the manpower to defend Texas Tech. Combine that with West Virginia committing nine turnovers against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and this reconditioned Tech defense could great problems for the Mountaineers’ offense. Texas is looking to keep the Red Raiders irrelevant, but on paper Tech has the advantage, and could emerge in Austin as the silent killer it was billed to be when this season started. 

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WER:  Is Pat Mahomes receiving as much credit nationally for his great play as he is around the Big 12?  What does he need to do the remainder of the season to be considered a Heisman candidate heading into next season?

Castro: I think he is, but to an extent. Texas Tech hasn’t been as available as in the past, and with Mahomes’ injury, Tech’s been even more careful with its media exposure. Mahomes has the strength to hang 500+ yards on opponents every game, it’s going to be up to the receivers and lineman to stay healthy and disruptive to make sure Mahomes keeps his numbers up. That’s not going to be a short order, however, and if Mahomes is going to emerge in 2016 as a Heisman contender, Tech’s going to have to keep improving to look good to recruits to offer Mahomes additional weapons. Additionally, if he wants bolster his attractiveness to NFL scouts and general managers in about two years, he’ll need depth in the trenches to prove he’s not going to be a mobile liability, as so many dual threat quarterbacks have appeared.

WER: Looking at the rest of the Big 12, the big news was the Texas upset over Oklahoma.  How do you explain that outcome?  Is Charlie Strong’s team turning the corner or was Oklahoma too full of fried Snickers from the state fair?

Castro: Texas is a powerhouse program, and despite its rise and fall, its continued to set the financial standards for college football — at least according to Forbes. This is why its fall has been so unsettling because it’s happened unencumbered of any sanctions or serious scandals that have marred the program, unlike say, the USC Trojans. I believe that Charlie Strong is Texas’s head coach, but for a program that’s been used to a certain environment, it’s been hard for fans to adjust to the new culture Strong’s established. He’s rebuilding, and Texas fans have to understand it won’t happen over night. If Texas is still facing similar ups and downs after Strong’s 4th or 5th year (after he’s had time with a full senior recruiting class), then it’s time to consider hitting the panic button. Oklahoma’s a good team, but even good teams have bad days. Baker Mayfield has the ability to turn the throttle on when he has to, but Oklahoma can’t sustain this season (or any) on one person’s ability to extend plays in the clutch. Bob Stoops has to find an answer on all fronts, or Texas won’t just be its only loss this season. Teams know Oklahoma’s weaknesses now, and they’re mounting up.

WER: Nationally, there are four head coaching jobs at “Power 5” conference schools open (USC, South Carolina, Illinois and Maryland).  Do you think this is odd for college football and what does this tell us about what the world of college football has become?

Castro: College Football is a business, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to seek therapy. It’s a system: you win, you produce NFL talent, recruits flock, you continue building a machine, and hopefully add hardware to the trophy room in the process. This process makes boosters happy and when boosters are happy, the financial wells are brimming. So to answer the question, it’s not odd when production and consistency isn’t there. Sometimes its a coaches’ time to retire for the betterment of a program, sometimes retirement or resignation is forced, and sometimes a program decides a coach needs to focus on his or her own health first.

V.F. Castro is a sports journalist, and author of The Moder Girls’ Guide to the Gridiron. She is a writer for Fansided’s SaturdayBlitz.com (former Editor-In-Chief for WreckeEmRed.com), and a freelance publishing consultant. In her free time, she’s a student at Harvard.

Follow V.F. on twitter at @VFdoesFootball

Next: Texas Tech Football: Week 7 Roadmap