So we have given the game some time to breath. Did Tech really play as poorly as the game first looked? I decided to watch the game again with an open mind knowing the outcome. If you are a Texas Tech fan, I do not suggest this, as it was just as embarrassing the second time.
Opening your BIG 12 coaching career against the Oklahoma Sooners is a tall task to be sure, but Matt Wells’ team looked like they knew they were going to lose as soon as they stepped on the field.
Let’s look at a few things this team showed us this last Saturday, and stick around to the end for some optimism. Or skip there if you are tired of thinking about this game.
Texas Tech’s Defense Looks Like Its Old Self
So I wrote an article after Texas Tech’s win against Montana state and raved about this groups tackling. I was excited to see how it would transfer against a Power 5 opponent and if they could keep it going. Tech played well enough against Arizona to fuel the optimism, but against Oklahoma they bounced off ball carriers and whiffed on tackles at an incredible rate.
One play summed it up best. If you watched the game you probably already have it in mind. There was 3:37 left in the half and Oklahoma was at the Texas Tech 41 yard line facing fourth down and 11. Lincoln Riley decided to go for it as the Sooner offense was averaging a whopping 13 yards per play at the time. The whole flow of the game hinged on that play. Hurts dumped it off to full back Jeremiah Hall, who then promptly breaks three arm tackles and picks up 15 yards after the catch to make the first down. It was brutal, and a representation of the whole game. The defense ended up giving up 644 yards total and Oklahoma let up early in the 4th quarter.
The Offense Does Not Look Like Its Old Self
But one thing Texas Tech could always hang their hat on was offense. Yet its performance was equally abysmal. Why on earth Matt Wells and OC David Yost decided to give grad transfer Jackson Tyner the start over Jett Duffey is beyond me and most Red Raider fans. I would like to give the coaches the benefit of the doubt as they are at the practices, team meetings, and have a better seat then most to evaluate their players.
This decision however caused Texas Tech to be down 14-0 before our offense was able to pick up a first down. That will doom you against most teams, but against OU? That was pretty much the end of it. Once Duffy came in the offense looks competent but not the high powered machine Texas Tech fans are used to. In total the Red Raiders threw the ball 26 times for an average of 4.7 yards per pass attempt. 4.7 yards. Additionally they were just awful when it mattered most going 1-14 on third down. and 1-3 on fourth down. This offense has had just 4 passes of over 20 yards in the last two weeks. That is mind blowing considering the defenses Tech has faced in those two games. The game plan was conservative, and frankly looked like the white flag from the start of the game.
Undisciplined As Ever
Matt Well’s preached all off-season that this years team was going to be a disciplined one and after the first two games I was drinking the Kool-aid. It was refreshing to see the team ranked in the top 25 in penalties per game.
Tech fans should probably tamper their expectations for the rest of the season as this trend is moving the wrong way. The Red Raiders were flagged 8 times for 65 yards against Oklahoma but the negative yardage hardly tells the story.
Whether it was due to a chop block or being illegally lined up, Texas Tech was constantly starting their possessions with a long field . One penalty in particular felt very Kingsbury-like where the team received a delay of game coming off the sideline prior to the team’s first snap of its final second-quarter possession.
Unfortunately, the most memorable play of the game probably came from defensive end Eli Howard as he threw a low block against Oklahoma’s running back Kennedy Brooks on an interception return. The play seemed to be dirty, but it appears Eli Howard just made a bad bang-bang type decision; for which he apologized on twitter. However, it is another example of the lack of control and decision making. Hopefully the team and coaches can fulfill their promises of eliminating these preventable and frustrating penalties. For now though, it looks like the process is going to take a while.
Just Breathe And Be Positive
Alright its time to bring some better vibes to help lead us into our next tough game against OSU.
First off, this season is young. Texas Tech is on game four and I have seen plenty of fans already giving up on Wells and this team. Did anyone expect Tech to win in Norman? I certainly did not. The loss was uglier then I had hoped but it is just one loss. It just takes one good win to turn the season around and there are so many more opportunities to win ballgames this year. This OU team is special and very well may have seen Texas Tech’s floor in the first game of BIG 12 play.
Second, the Tyner experiment is over. Duffy is the quarterback of this team until Bowman is back and it is time to build an offense around him. He has shown he can be a big time player more then once in his career. If he can just stop giving the ball to the other team, he could be a real positive as he adds a completely different rushing threat as an athlete.
Speaking of Texas Techs run game, it was by no means impressive but the Red Raider backs averaged 5.2 yards per carry. That is not too bad and any explosive plays seemed to come from our our rushing attack. Hopefully this carries into the rest of the season when the games are more competitive.
Lastly, the Red Raider kickers really showed out in this game. McNamara averaged over 48 yards per punt on six punts and had one that traveled a season high 66 yards. While Trey Wolff nailed all 3 of the kicks he attempted. Again, this had little impact on the game but hopefully will carry into the games where Tech is more competitive and these type of plays can decide a game.
Final thoughts before we agree to never think about this game again.
It takes time to build a program and Texas Tech is off to a predictable start. A win at home this Saturday against OSU will go a long way to forgetting the awful performance Matt Well’s team put on against his first BIG12 opponent. I still think this defense can be serviceable to good and I hope they prove this game was an outlier and not the norm.
Everything about this game was super conservative on Texas Techs part, from starting Tyner, to the playcalling, and the field goals late in the game. I hope the outcome perhaps discourages the staff from playing it so safely in the future.
In the end, offensive lineman Travis Bruffy,
“We felt like we embarrassed the Double T, we embarrassed the university and people were ashamed…I can’t speak for Oklahoma State or any of their players but after what they saw, watching the same film we watched, honestly I would have us circled right now. I would not expect much out of us. I’m the softest left tackle in the BIG 12 right now… So if that is what they are expecting I can’t wait for this Saturday to show them who we actually are. ”– Travis Bruffy to KAMC Sports Eric Kelly