Agony of Defeat and More

There is a lot to take away from this weekend's loss, but Joe Yeager looks past the stats.

Competitive They Were: Following three straight embarrassing blowout losses—arguably the worst three-game stretch in Tech football history—most Red Raider fans merely hoped their team would be competitive in Columbia, Missouri, a place Tech has never played remotely well. Well, the wish was granted. And although a four-point loss is doubtless less bad for the program than a 60-point cataclysm, the mental pain may be even worse.

 

When one's team plays abominably, the fan accommodates himself in the first quarter to the inevitable loss,  and by the time the final whistle sounds, has assimilated and sublimated the pain. Not so with the nail-biters. In losses such as the one to Missouri, hopes are raised to a lofty perch and then dashed back to earth harshly and without mercy. These are the sorts of losses that make one physically ill.

 

Defining Defense Down: There's not a sane defensive coordinator in the country who would brag about "holding" a team to 490 yards of total offense, which is what Tech's defense did against Missouri. That said, this was Tech's best defensive performance since October 15 when the Red Raiders held Kansas State to 339 total yards. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma State all gashed Tech even worse than Mizzou did.

 

Credit, Not Blame: The final crushing interception was the bitter lozenge that put the Red Raiders out of their misery. And I have no doubt Seth Doege is playing the good soldier and taking full blame for the turnover. I cannot assign similar blame.

 

Aaron Crawford, the intended receiver, was open at the two yard line and probably would have scored the winning touchdown had the ball not been picked. In this case, the defender simply made an outstandingly and unexpectedly athletic play to save the day for the Tigers. In this case it makes more sense to give that kid credit than it does to pummel Doege.

 

ABC Idiocy: If the Tech football team were an Army, it would be Custer's troop at Little Bighorn. The Red Raiders, already severely depleted coming into the battle with Missouri, lost three more key players: Alex Torres, DeAndre Washington and Lonnie Edwards.

 

To all appearances, the injuries were severe, and we would not expect to see any of those players in uniform for the final game against Baylor. Unfortunately, those appearances were almost non-existent. Thanks to some asinine new policy at ABC, it seems it's now verboten to show instant replays of injuries. Viewers did not see a single replay of what happened to Torres, Washington and Edwards. We were thus almost totally in the dark as to the nature of the injuries.

 

Thanks you, ABC. In your moral preening, your judgment of what we are fit to see, you have abdicated the number one responsibility to your viewers—to provide them with the most comprehensive coverage and the most information possible.

 

Emotion: One ingredient that has been missing from this Tech team all season is emotion. The Red Raiders have been strangely detached. They have been unanimated. They seemed like an unhappy team, one that was not having any fun. But against Missouri, Tech appeared to be a mentally healthier, more normal team.

 

The defense, sparked by Scott Smith, played with some emotion, especially early on. Seth Doege played with a bit of fire, giving a fist pump after a touchdown, and even cracking a bit of a smile on the sideline. And the emotion poured into this loss doubtless makes it even harder to stomach. Right now I feel sorry for this team, and that's the first time I've been able to say that all season.


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