After the Baylor loss, Travis and I were having our weekly conversations and I mentioned that Wells is something like 7-16 in one-score games and this sort of coincided with a complaint that Travis had, which is in that game, where in overtime, head coach Matt Wells had the opportunity to go for it on 4th and 1 (or some amount) or kick a field goal and Wells opted for the field goal. This is 10 things where Wells and his staff was probably too conservative in the Kansas game or simply not playing the odds and that cost Texas Tech the game.
In the first half, Texas Tech has the ball with a shade under 5 minutes left in the half with Texas Tech up 17-7. All Tech needs to do is run the ball and run out the clock and now allow Kansas to get the ball back. Kansas had just scored a 1-yard touchdown after a 53 yard bomb and you could tell that they were feeling it. The drive started with a SaRodorick Thompson run and then the rest of the drive consisted of passes eating absolutely no time off the clock. In the first quarter, Texas Tech was averaging 5 yards a carry and 4.6 in the second quarter. Instead, Texas Tech ran the ball 1 time, passed 5, and ate up 2:18 of the clock which gave Kanas the ball with 2:19 left on the clock. The Jayhawks scored a touchdown on a 48 yard bomb and still gave Texas Tech the ball with 0:44 left on the clock to make it 17-14 heading into the half.
In the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech is up 24-14. The Red Raiders scored at will on the first drive and the defense forced a punt on KU’s first drive of the 2nd half. Texas Tech drove the ball all the way to the Kansas 9 yard line and was knocked for no gain on 3rd and 2. In fact, Thompson fumbled the ball but it was recovered and there was no loss. Texas Tech faced 4th and 2. In the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech was averaging 5 yards a rush. Wells decides to kick the field goal and go up 27-14. After the game, Wells said that Thompson had just gotten stonewalled on 3rd down and didn’t feel confident going for it. Rather than the cumulative effort of the team’s ability to create about 5 yards a carry for the game up until that point or a creative play that would maybe net Texas Tech 2 yards, he chose to just go for the field goal. For the game, Texas Tech would average 4.7 yards a carry.
It’s the very next drive where Texas Tech had just made their field goal and now it is 3rd and 10 and Kansas has the ball at their own 35 yard line and it is 3rd and 10. Texas Tech rushes 5 and drops 6 into coverage rather than rush 3 and drop 8 into coverage. Kansas’ first two touchdowns were essentially 50-yard completions and Kansas then throws a 65 yard completion for a drive that takes all of 4 plays.
Texas Tech gets the ball back and has to punt, largely the result of a holding call on Dawson Deaton and was backed up. Kansas starts their drive on their on 14 yard line. Kansas is in a terrible spot, Carter had lost a ton of yards on a bad play and was facing 3rd and 21. This time Texas Tech only rushes 3, but a defender falls down and the defensive back, Zech McPhearson lets the Kansas receiver behind him and scores on a 70 yard touchdown reception. All he had to do was keep the man in front of him.
Kansas has scored on a 32 yard run from a former Texas Tech commit, Velton Gardner, and it’s tied 34-34. Kansas has made up a 17 point deficit. Texas Tech has the ball with 5:12 left on the clock. Duffey completed a pass to Rigdon for 9 yards, Duffey has an incomplete pass to S. Thompson on 2nd down, and then S. Thompson has a rush for no-gain on 3rd down. It’s 4th and 1 at Texas Tech’s 34 yard line and Kansas has just made up 17 points, scored on big play after big play and Wells decides to punt the ball rather than win the game. Maybe this was the 3rd down that Wells was referring to when discussing getting stonewalled. Kansas gets the ball with 3:52, more than enough time for Kansas to drive the field, which they did do.
Of all things, Kansas is in position to kick a field goal to win the game, the field goal is blocked and Douglas Coleman gets the ball, attempts to lateral the ball with the idea of maybe scoring. I know that there’s probably a lot of blame to lay on Coleman here, but for one time during the game, Coleman was playing to win the game. He was, at the very least aggressive. It obviously didn’t work, but I’m not hating on Coleman in the least. Kansas would end up kicking a field go again because there was time left on the clock and they win the danged game.
That’s 5 different opportunities for Texas Tech to have done something to be aggressive or just smart that lost the game. I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting. Thank goodness Texas Tech has a bye and we all have 2 weeks to stew on a loss to Kansas.
As an aside, Texas Tech would end up averaging 4.7 yards a carry and ran for 212 net yards for the evening. Kansas would also average 16 yards a pass. That’s not a completion, but a pass. Kansas converted 9 of 15 on 3rd down and the Jayhawks needed an average of 13 yards for those 3rd downs.