On Saturday night in Lubbock, the Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-4, 3-4) came from behind, and defeated the #12 Missouri Tigers (7-2, 3-2) by the final score of 24-17.
After Missouri jumped out to a 17-3 lead with about 5 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, Taylor Potts took over at QB for Texas Tech, and led a Red Raider comeback that put Tech ahead 24-17 with over 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. Potts had Tech back down in the red zone again, near the end of the 3rd quarter, but Zaviar Gooden came up with an interception of a Potts' pass that Jacquies Smith tipped at the line of scrimmage.
That play seemed to revitalize Missouri's defense, and they kept Texas Tech off of the board the rest of the way. But offensively, Missouri was unable to dent the scoreboard in the second half.
"We just couldn't get anything accomplished," lamented Coach Pinkel. "It was a very difficult loss."
Defensively, Missouri played well enough to win. But, there were some chinks in the armor. Up front, Missouri's defensive ends played well. Jacquies Smith and Brad Madison each garnered a sack, and the overall play of the DEs was acceptable. Aldon Smith played well, but not quite up to his pre-injury form. When Potts came in, Tech went with some 3 step drops, and some quick throws. There weren't many opportunities to apply much pressure. In addition, Missouri really misses Dominique Hamilton inside. It's alarming just how effective Tech was at running the football in between the tackles.
At the LB level, Gooden and Andrew Gachkar each played very well. Gachkar led the way, with 9 tackles, a blocked FG, and a fumble recovery. Gooden had the one INT, and almost had another one. In the middle, Will Ebner is playing hurt, and it shows. Maybe Andrew Wilson should see more time at MLB.
In the secondary, Carl Gettis struggled for the second straight week. He doesn't appear to have the same quickness that he displayed earlier in the season. Kip Edwards was victimized against TTU, as well. E.J. Gaines saw a lot of playing time, especially later in the game, and registered 8 tackles.
The Missouri defense held Tech to a respectable 4.8 yards/play, despite being on the field for 101 plays, and over 39 minutes, prompting the following analysis from Coach Pinkel.
"They're (Texas Tech) a good offensive football team," explained Coach Pinkel. "We really struggled with third downs in this game on offense, and we kept putting our defense back out there, throughout the whole game. You've got to move the ball better. We were punting. We kept putting our defense back on the field, over and over again."
Missouri converted just 1 of 12 third downs, and was 0-2 on 4th downs. On one of the fourth down attempts, a 4th and 2 from the Tech 30 yard line, with a minute and a half left in the 1st quarter, the Tigers ran a zone read play to the left side with De'Vion Moore that was very well blocked, and might have broken for a touchdown. But, Blaine Gabbert decided to keep the football, instead of giving it to Moore, and was tackled almost immediately.
Gabbert, who completed just 12 of his 30 pass attempts, missed several receivers with throws, and missed some open receivers, choosing instead to throw the ball into coverage. His receivers didn't help much either, as Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp each dropped multiple passes. Rolandis Woodland dropped one, too.
Missouri ran the ball 31 times for 260 yards, including the two TD runs, of 69 yards, by Marcus Murphy, and 71 yards, by Kendial Lawrence. Even removing those two big plays, the Tigers still averaged 4.1 yards/carry on their other 29 runs. And, that includes 4 "runs" by Gabbert that netted a total of 1 yard. Considering the struggles that Gabbert and his receivers were having "playing catch", maybe the Tigers should have utilized their run game a little more. They were balanced, with 31 runs to 30 passes, but perhaps in the flow of the game, the results on the field were dictating, inexplicably, an even greater commitment to the run.
Another possibility would have been to substitute for the guys who were having a bad game. James Franklin for Gabbert, Marcus Lucas for Kemp, and L'Damian Washington for Jackson are potential substitutions to be considered when guys are under-performing.
Reading into Coach Pinkel's post game remarks, it's obvious that he expected Gabbert and his starting receivers to fight through their struggles, and get the ball into the end zone. He pointed out that the Tigers only trailed by a single score throughout the final 1 and 1/2 quarters.
"We just needed to get a score, and tie it up," said a frustrated Coach Pinkel. "We just had trouble executing on offense, and scoring points. You know, we've got to fix that, with the games coming up here. There's a lot out there, and we've got to fix a lot of things."