You don’t need to read a post to know that this game sucked. I mean it wasn’t just kind of bad, it was brutal. But, it was also a tale of multiple halves. Unfortunately, the whole team played like trash in the first half. Then, only half of the team played like trash in the third quarter, and another half of the team played like trash when it counted! So Tech wasn’t all bad at the same time ALL day! How’s that for some sunshine? Who am I kidding, that sucked.
These awards are going to be a little bit different. After the Ole Miss game I did my best to convey my true feelings that this team was better than they performed. They found themselves in a snowball, had an unexpected quarterback change, made big mistakes and never adjusted. Today, however, I can’t think of a single position group that deserves an award that didn’t do some big things to negate that award at another point in the game. So pretty much every award will have its opposite following it. There was no excuse for that performance, in fact, Kliff put it best in the post-game press conference when asked about fans leaving.
“I would have left too, ya know if it was that poor of a performance
and effort in the first half. I don’t blame anybody for leaving.”
Picard Approves Award
Kliff Kingsbury, HC
Something Patrick Stewart did a great job of in portraying Captain Picard was seeing through individuals’ actions to their heart and soul, as a way to assess their intentions and believe in their potential. Well, I’m not congratulating Kliff for this game, I have some serious questions about play calling down the stretch. But I am giving Kliff the respect he deserves for his post-game press conference. I’ve embedded it below and I do suggest you watch it. Some growth I’ve seen in Kliff is his willingness to shoot straighter with the fan base and the media about his own shortcomings and the shortcomings of the team. Kliff did not mince words Saturday.
Kliff Kingsbury, HC
I honestly don’t understand some of the play calling throughout the game. I mean I’m all about establishing the run, it can be a valuable part of any offense, and Tech’s running game has been relatively strong this season. But when you’re driving for a chance to tie late in the game, why put yourself in an all but guaranteed 3rd and long situation by handing off up the middle? I’m certainly not a football genius nor do I claim to have any idea how to call a game. But it seems to me that if there was a situation to abandon the run and spread the field with the creativity and speed we’ve seen this season that this may have been it. I realize Tech also had its third-string quarterback in, so pass execution was an issue too, but there were some questionable run calls throughout the day as well. Hindsight is 20/20 and I know the run game brings multiple positives to the offense, however, after going down 28-7 in the first quarter it seems there was probably a little more aggressive play-calling needed. Five Tech running backs finished the day with 26 carries for 80 yards. Jett Duffey added another 15 carries for 86 yards, watching his playing time there were a few designed quarterback runs, but he gained the majority of his yardage pulling the ball down and scrambling. In Kliff’s defense, he wasn’t happy with that, mentioning in the press conference he needs Duffey to hang in there and execute plays how they are designed.
The running game isn’t the only place play calls can be questioned. I’ll give Kliff kudos for finally learning to defer to the second half and for figuring out the red zone woes that plagued Tech last season. I wrote about those in my first Inside the Numbers before the season began. Tech was 5-5 on the day in the red zone, unfortunately, two of those were field goals, which in my opinion are not a win but a capitulation to take something rather than chance nothing. I was surprised to see Kliff go for Tech’s second field goal on the day. It made the score 35-20 with 12:31 left in the game. I remember sitting back in frustration saying “geez, play to win the game.” I know, we could argue this one back and forth, even with the touchdown it would have been an eleven point game, but with a two-point conversion, Tech’s in a position to tie with a field goal in the waning minutes rather than placing a necessary touchdown drive on Duffey’s back. I guess my real question is, what happened to “fortune favors the bold?”
Dang Bro! Award
Antoine Wesley, WR
Antoine Wesley was a highlight reel once again making some great grabs throughout the day at or near the goal line. he finished the day with 8 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. His longest snag was for 40 yards and he had an average of 13.8 yards per catch. Even with the absence of the injured T.J. Vasher, allowing the defense the ability to shade to Wesley’s side of the field, he still made some great open-field and contested catches.
You Dropped it! Award
Red Raider fans were already frustrated with the team’s abysmal performance in the first half and the offense’s inconsistencies throughout the entire game. But nothing will get a stadium “full” of fans more frustrated than watching receivers drop balls. You don’t have to understand zone vs. man defense, the run pass option, blocking schemes, or much of anything else about football to know that when the quarterback throws the ball the goal is for the wide receiver to CATCH IT! I don’t recall seeing this many drops in several years, and it boils down to nothing more than focus and discipline. Whether they were just not motivated to perform early in the game or trying to do too much later, it was unacceptable for Texas Tech wide receivers to drop as many balls as they did.
What hurts the most is that Texas Tech lost this game by 8 points. Yes, the Red Raiders spotted West Virginia 21 points off of turnovers, but those 8 points could have been made up by finishing drives rather than kicking two field goals. Maybe those drives would have been extended without dropped balls. According to the broadcast team West Virginia uses the tennis ball method, but they take it another step by requiring receivers to use only their fingertips to catch them. I’ve included some stats below, a missed target isn’t automatically a dropped ball, but for as many as we saw it’s probably pretty close.
Entire Texas Tech Defense
For the third time this season and the second week in a row, the Texas Tech defense pitched a shutout in the second half of a game. They also only allowed a single touchdown in the second quarter, although considering West Virginia’s 28-7 lead after the first it would have been nice to avoid that lead-increasing touchdown. Once again the linebacking corps led the way (as they should) with Dakota Allen, Jordyn Brooks, Tony Jones, Kolin Hill, and Riko Jeffers earning five of the top eight tackler spots on the day. They combined for 31 of the team’s 63 tackles, 17 of the 37 solo tackles, 2.5 of 5 tackles for loss, 2 of 3 quarterback hurries, and 1 of 2 sacks.
The defense also combined for 5 passes defended on the day, forced 5 punts (including 2 three-and-outs) and forced a turnover on downs in the second quarter.
You’re Better Than This Award
I meeeaaaaannnnnn, seriously guys? Allowing 35 points in the first half is a death-knell for almost any team. As Coach Kingsbury said, you simply can’t expect to compete if your defense is allowing teams uncontested passes and the ability to move the ball at will, especially early in the game. Tech’s offense was obviously struggling early and the defense was put in in a difficult position. Tech was held to all 5 of its punts in the first half, as well as throwing its first interception. So these were not ideal situations for the defense to be but in. But life isn’t always perfect or fair, Alan Bowman was struggling, wide receivers were dropping balls, the running game couldn’t get going, so the team needed the defense to step up against a good offense. They needed them to help stem the tide until Tech’s offense could get rolling, but they didn’t make it happen. There’s plenty to learn from here, plenty to fire them up, but it was still a failure. They stepped up in the second half giving the team a chance to win, but that wouldn’t have been necessary without the disastrous first half, and especially the first quarter. I will allow them this, they won’t see another offense this potent until they face Oklahoma.
Shining Star Award
Duffey came in unexpectedly after two defenders pancaked Alan Bowman just after he threw. Bowman ultimately left the stadium and was taken to the hospital for further tests. There’s no official word yet about his status but rumors persist that he may have sustained an internal injury that would sideline him for the remainder of the season. Duffey went 16/27 for 172 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He also added 15 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Duffey was given an extremely difficult task, jumping into an offense he hasn’t fully grasped with the team way down and needing to lead a comeback. Duffey brought the Red Raiders all the way back within a score before the comeback bid ended. He showed great ability to scramble and extend plays with an impressive field vision and acceleration out of his cuts.
Alan Bowman & Jett Duffy, QBs
Remember this little gem ^^^ yeah this warrants bringing it out of retirement. Without throwing him under the bus, Kliff has always told us as much as he can about why Duffey wasn’t the starting quarterback. Despite what all of the expert fans “know” about his amazing abilities, Jett has trouble taking care of the ball. We saw this briefly in the Lamar game when he threw an incredibly ill-advised interception on a rollout. This week he threw two interceptions, the first ending Tech’s last drive of the first half. For the second, Duffey just didn’t see a Mountaineer defender sitting in underneath coverage, he keyed in on his man and threw a pick-six that demolished the Red Raiders’ hopes for completing the comeback bid they’d been making the entire second half. It appeared there was a chance, then it was over. Tech’s defense had shut West Virginia down for the entire half, forcing four punts and a missed field goal and making big stands when they were needed. The drive that ended in an interception would have tied the game for the Red Raiders. I think Tech fans are reasonable enough to admit that Duffey performed pretty well in a very difficult situation, but the injury to Bowman and the need for Duffey to lead a comeback was just icing on the cake of an incredibly frustrating and disappointing day.
Not to pile too high on Duffey, Alan Bowman was probably the worst we’ve seen him. He finished 9/20 for 123 yards 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He threw a dime to Antoine Wesley for Tech’s first touchdown of the day, but he struggled to find a rhythm as much as his receivers frustrated the process. It just wasn’t a good day for the gunslingers, so much so that I got them a second gif.
I know I’m probably treading on thin ice here, but I have about as much use for some of you in the stands around me as a screen door on a battleship. Look we all know that things went south Saturday, but those chosen few idiots out there are just making things worse. If you’re screaming “Art Briles”, yelling at Kliff from the top row to “call a game,” or unleashing a tirade about what it means to play football in Texas with your gut hanging out of your fishing shirt, then take note, I’m telling you to shut up and I’ll wager that about 99.25% of fans around me are nodding their heads in agreement. Here are some things you don’t know anything about:
1. Coaching major college football
2. Playing major college football
3. The locker room dynamics of the Texas Tech Football team
4. The field-level intricacies of major college football
5. How to behave in public
Now I’m not telling anyone not to cheer, or yell at referees, or even grumble to your buddy about what’s going on on the field. But if you think that standing up and screaming at
your own my team is going to affect any change you’ve got another thing coming. In fact, all it’s doing is making fans (that didn’t come to the Jones to act like morons but came to support their team) feel uncomfortable. I’ll bet they all went home and told their friends and family about the idiot that was sitting nearby.
I get it, we’re all frustrated. Let’s just remember you’re in public, you’re around children, and you don’t know everything. If you’re so unhappy being at a Texas Tech game why not just leave? Or better yet, don’t come at all.
Entire Texas Tech Team – I didn’t get into the weeds about it last week, but the 3 penalties for 20 yards number is not correct. The official statbroadcast somehow missed a delay of game, kickoff out of bounds, and an intentional grounding penalty. It was still a good day last week and this game was similar. Tech had 7 penalties for 60 yards, compared to West Virginia who had 12 penalties for 112 yards. I’ll say I’m not often surprised by the box score, but this one shocked me. Sitting in the stadium it felt like Tech was getting pounded with penalties all day and the Mountaineers didn’t get any until the second half. It was egregious how much Will Grier’s line was getting no-calls on holds.
Ja’Deion High, WR – High finished again as the #2 receiver on the day with 6 catches for 105 yards, that’s a 17.5-yard average. High has continued to improve as the top slot receiver on this offense, he was also the most consistent with the least drops on the day.
It Was the Worst of Times
This one wasn’t fun. The game wasn’t fun and honestly, this post wasn’t any fun either. I didn’t want to go back through this game, I wanted to make like Josh Jung and just flush it and move on. At the end of the day, the best I can say to you is s*@! happens. The Red Raiders came out flat and they threw interceptions, those were the difference-makers in this game. All of the feelings, anger, frustrations, and disappointment really stemmed from letting their opponent jump out to a big lead as a result of an interception and flat play on both sides of the ball. Tech ultimately shot itself in the foot with two more picks, one that ended their chances to win. The box score shows remarkably similar performances otherwise. The Red Raiders and Mountaineers were almost identical in total yards, first downs, and time of possession.
I bring this up to try to boil this game down after having a day to process it. In the end, there was nothing that happened on the field Saturday that can’t be corrected. In fact, it appears to me that the best performance of the season so far, against Oklahoma State, would have been more than enough to beat West Virginia soundly, unfortunately, that performance wasn’t the product we saw on the field. Even before the starting quarterback went on a trip to the hospital the Red Raiders were flat and making bonehead mistakes. I think those can be corrected, and hopefully, this serves as a wakeup call that even a talented team at home needs to be locked in mentally, focused, and bring their A-game to beat conference opponents. One positive to take away, the only positive according to Kliff, is that they kept fighting. I think that is a huge difference about this team. We’ve seen Texas Tech teams give in to the snowball and get smoked, but this team didn’t do that. They made adjustments and found ways to get back in the game.
Ultimately, history will judge this team on how it responds to defeat. If they pick themselves up, correct mistakes, focus and play to their potential they will win more games. They can also lay down and get whipped, their choice.