Football

Ten Things: West Virginia 31, Texas Tech 26

Texas Tech loses on the road to West Virginia. We’ve got 2,000 words on the loss and where I am with Kliff Kingsbury and the program (if it matters to you at all).

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Ten Things

1. You’ve Heard This One Before. There’s really just no other way to explain this situation. It’s terrible and I’ve run out of ways to explain how or why or what. The one thing that I did notice, was that when Texas Tech had a tackle or end playing the b-gap, with no one outside, West Virginia just waltzed their asses on over to that side where there was no defensive end and just ran the ball and ran the ball. If someone smarter than me can explain why Texas Tech was doing this, I’d love to hear, because I simply don’t get that. And I’m not blaming the players for not lining up right, from everything that I could tell, it was intentional. Eventually, Gibbs figured that out and covered up the c-gap, but it was almost one of those comically sad moments where you knew exactly what was going to happen, it did happen, and Texas Tech couldn’t stop it. Of course, covering up the c-gap really didn’t matter because West Virginia just tore the defense to shreds. Literally tore the defense up. There were some occasional bright points, but son of a gun, it was like watching the Arkansas game last year.

If there is any reason to be hopeful, it’s the fact that this team plays much different at home vs. the road. I don’t mean in terms of stopping the run, but this team just plays better at home..

2. Jackson’s Penalty. Branden Jackson has been the model student athlete for most, if not all of his career. He’s never been in trouble, he’s always been a good spokesman for the team and I can’t think of a time where he’s been in trouble for much of anything. On the last West Virginia drive, Jackson pushes the running back after the play is dead. It was one heated moment in a career of unheated moments. I don’t know how to explain that gaffe by Jackson, something that’s totally outside of his character. But sometimes, those moments cost the team a game. West Virginia was looking at 3rd and 7 at their own 40 and the possibility (as slight as it may have seemed) of getting the ball back for the offense and making a game out of it. What happened next was excruciating because West Virginia drove the ball down the field and then, when Micah Awe ripped off the facemask of the opposing running back, it allowed West Virginia to just kneel the ball and watch Texas Tech die a very slow and painful death. Two terrible penalties by two of your senior leaders.

3. That Offensive Line. Watching the offensive line struggled so much this game. Typically, this line doesn’t allow negative yards running the ball, but it seemed that there were numerous examples of Washington losing yards on various runs. the line was passable last week, but this week, it seemed like QB Patrick Mahomes had very little time to do much of anything productive. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t perfect, but it seemed that he was running for his life pretty much the entire game. I’d also maybe think that the fact that Washington actually gained 102 yards is more a testament to Washington than anything else. I tend to hate writing things like this, because they’re so black and white and it is almost assuredly never just one thing, but if the quarterback doesn’t have time, then he’s never going to complete the big pass because he’s got no time to set up and throw.

4. There’s Nothing Deep, But Even If There Was, It Wouldn’t Matter. The announcers said at one point in the 4th quarter, when Cameron Batson dropped a sure first down, the play-by-play guy said that it was the 6th of the day. It felt like it was a heck of a lot more dropped passes than just 6.

Before the game, Kingsbury decided it was time to change things up and started Keke Coutee and Tony Brown on the outside, over Reginald Davis and Devin Lauderdale. That really didn’t matter because no receiver really did much of anything. This doesn’t credit West Virginia enough, who dropped all but three players for the better part of the game, just flooded the linebackers and secondary and it was all but over for anything being completed deep or really, even on an intermediate basis. This is the problem when you don’t have a dominant #1 receiver on the outside.

And I don’t know if we noticed this much (I’m writing this right after the game) but Jakeem Grant went down on the last return that he had, where he only went to the 19. He was gimpy and walking gingerly and really unable to do much of anything. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t play the rest of the game.

Regardless of whether or not there’s a dominant outside receiver, it is clear that this team’s margin for error is so slim and those dropped passes mean the difference in this team scoring 26 points or 53. The receivers have to make plays and the outside receivers only had 3 catches for 29 yards. That’s embarrassing.

6. Whiffing on a Linebacker Class. The late recruiting efforts for the linebackers in the 2013 class haven’t helped the cause at all. Since we get so many comments, I can’t remember who made it, but the fact that this team is playing a redshirt freshman in Dakota Allen and a true freshman in D’Vonta Hinton means that pretty much the entire 2013 class of linebackers, including Jacarthy Mack, Kahlee Woods, Zach Barnes and Malik Jenkins have all been passed over. This team was having trouble stopping the run before Allen went out (and I don’t think he returned, but if he did, he wasn’t at full speed) but it was darn near automatic for West Virginia running the ball and being successful once he did go down. There was no one to fill the gaps on so many of those plays and you have Jah’Shawn Johnson or Keenan Allen trying to clean up the play 9 or 10 yards down the field. This isn’t some sort of proclamation that these guys should be playing, but it does seem clear that Gibbs is playing the best linebackers.

And if you have to ask why Mike Mitchell isn’t playing, then this is your answer. I do believe, despite the results, that Gibbs is playing the best players.

7. Red Zone Failures.

A. In the second quarter, down 14-7, Texas Tech drives down to the West Virginia 24 to come up empty (getting to the 24 was actually the 3rd down play and I think this was the tunnel screen overthrow by Mahomes).

B. The very next drive, West Virginia misses a field goal and Mahomes throws an interception at the West Virginia 18 yard line, a terrible read by Mahomes.

C. This technically isn’t a red zone opportunity, but the first drive in the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech is down to WVU’s 31 yard line and it is 3rd and 4. Mahomes is sacked, forcing Texas Tech to punt and pin West Virginia deep, which is what happened. West Virginia has the ball at their own 1 yard line.

D. Picking up where item 7.C. leaves off, West Virginia has the ball and their QB throws the interception to Justis Nelson. Texas Tech drives the ball to the West Virginia 16 and settles for a field goal. I think the missed 3rd down opportunity was a Tony Brown dropped pass.

E. The drive late in the third quarter, with 2:29 remaining, Texas Tech drives the ball to the West Virginia 5 yard line, Mahomes is sacked and has to settle for a field goal.

That’s an overthrow, an interception, a sack, a dropped pass and another sack.

8. Stopped Short. Don Williams reported that Kliff Kingsbury’s press conference was cut short. Something about having to catch the plane. It was short. Only 3 minutes long. Kingsbury said that he was most frustrated for his quarterback, said that West Virginia walked on their face and the outside receivers have to be better (I think the term “walked on their face” is in reference to West Virginia playing tight man-to-man). Said that Branden Jackson’s play was a selfish play from a senior leader. It wasn’t lengthy, for sure.

Before I was a parent, I was the judgmental person who said that I would be the parent that isn’t afraid to punish my kid in public, even if I’m making a scene. Once I became a parent, I realized that yes, I certainly could do that, but parenting my child in public was embarrassing for me and everyone involved. If I had to guess and make a wild speculation, the reason why the press conference was cut short was because Kingsbury laid into his team, told them to get their gear, get on the bus and get their tails out of here. Personally, I’ve got no problem with Kingsbury disciplining, or expressing his disappointment, behind closed doors. I’m wired that way so maybe that’s the reason why this doesn’t bother than me that he’s not yelling in Jackson’s earhole at the time that this happens. At that time, you’re still trying to win the game and it does you no good to discipline a player right then. Especially because I’m sure that Jackson has a conscience and understands the gravity of the situation.

9. Failure on Third Downs. There’s not a lot to add to this, but in the third quarter, Texas Tech only converted 1 of 6 3rd downs and was 0 for 2 in the 4th quarter. Even though the defense gifted you two interceptions, the failure to convert on 3rd down was the game. On the other side of the ball, West Virginia converted 5 of 6 third downs in the 4th quarter.

Game over.

10.a. Tough to Stay Positive. This Ten Things was probably the toughest one for me to write this year. Usually, these things write themselves and it’s pretty easy for me, even in a loss.

The thing that I’m avoiding in the back of my brain, it’s there, but I’m totally avoiding it, is the idea of if Kingsbury is the right coach. Everything about the hired absolutely made sense for me. I love Kingsbury as this team’s coach and I have always had faith in Kingsbury and I still do. I still think this team is better than last year and for me to continue to write that, Kingsbury needs to get at least one win over the next two games. I’m avoiding the negativity because I simply want to avoid the reality of the situation because it is ugly. It’s ugly down the stretch and it just stinks. I really don’t know what I would do with myself psychologically if it turns out Kingsbury isn’t “the guy” and I’m completely avoiding this thought process. I feel guilty about even typing it out. Maybe more than anything, is that I’m putting it out there that I’m not just a complete ostrich with my head in the sand. I get your frustration, but I’m intentionally not going to face that reality until after Kingsbury’s 4th year.

Yeah, I know, this is a long ways away, but I’m just letting you all know my timeframe. I get your frustration and I get that it stinks. Trust me I do. I’m as invested as anyone on how this team performs. You can ask my wife, that on any given Saturday after a game, she can tell if Texas Tech won or lost based on my mood for the rest of the day.

The reason I’m avoiding the reality until after 2016 is because I think that’s the fair time frame. Any talk of firing anyone now, or anything like that doesn’t move the needle for me and I want to give Kingsbury the longest leash possible because I want him to succeed. Like I said, I really don’t know what I would do if he didn’t. Oh yeah, the sun would rise and I’d continue to write and it would be okay, but it’s something that I just don’t like to consider, not at this point.

10.b. Congrats Washington. Congrats to RB DeAndre Washington, who became the first Red Raider since Byron Hanspard to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

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