Tech's average margin of defeat in losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State is 26 points. Those were whuppins by any reasonable definition. But interestingly enough, the Red Raiders were not physically dominated or overwhelmed in either of those defeats.
Oklahoma outgained Tech by a modest 20 yards while the Red Raiders actually tallied 16 more yards than the Wildcats. However, Tech turned the ball over six times in those losses while forcing only one turnover.
We could delve deeper to find other reasons for the defeats, but at the end of the day, when the Red Raiders protect the football they can play with anybody because they have the talent to do so. Grading losses hallmarked by physical parity and error disparity is difficult.
Quarterback: Seth Doege threw the ball better against Kansas State than any other quarterback this season. He also continued the trend of judiciously using his wheels to pick up key yardage. A couple of mistakes, however, were killers.
Doege fumbled away a golden scoring opportunity because he failed to recognize a blitz and check out of a disaster waiting to happen. And the pick six was a classic high Doege pass that was tipped and taken to the house. In theory, these two turnovers could have produced a 24-point swing.
Running Backs: Kenny Williams had an excellent day. His 15 carries was a career high, and he arguably should have gotten another seven or eight. I suspect the running game was not prominent in Tech's gameplan and that Neal Brown was surprised by Tech's success here. All three backs were good in pass protection. The wildcat formation was conspicuous by its absence.
Receivers: With the Wildcats playing lots of cover two (this partially explains Tech's success on the ground), downfield opportunities were minimal. The absence of Jace Amaro and Javon Bell compounded this problem. Still, Eric Ward had one of his best games as a Red Raider. He's making a late push of All Big 12 honors. Darrin Moore had nine catches but also a pair of drops. Austin Zouzalik, Alex Torres and Tyson Williams are as tough as they come. Unfortunately, however, they don't add much dynamism to the attack.
Offensive Line: The sack and forced fumble were not the line's fault. Tech was simply outnumbered and Seth Doege did not recognize it. Pass protection, on the whole, was very good. Doege was essentially unmolested. Run blocking, particularly from Le'Raven Clark and Terry McDaniel, was as good as it's been all year. McDaniel did have a holding penalty, however, and Deveric Gallington's snaps were often cockeyed. The center also got pushed into Doege once, as also happened against TCU. He needs to set his base better for bull rushes.
Defensive Line: Tech's front four absolutely dominated the first quarter of the half, but tapered off as the game progressed. Whether from fatigue or demoralization at the offense's failure to ring the bell, who can say? Still, this group played well enough to win. Kerry Hyder was a force, Dartwan Bush, now undeniably Tech's best pass rusher, got a sack, and Jackson Richards was solid. Branden Jackson forced a fumble. Alas, Kansas State recovered it. Depth at defensive tackle is not as good as we earlier believed. A healthy Anthony Smith, J. J. Lollar and Michael Starts could have helped this team.
Linebackers: As expected, Art Kaufman started three linebackers. They combined for 12 tackles, no tackles for loss, no sacks and no plays in the passing game. Sam Eguavoen played much better than he did against TCU, but still missed a tackle or two. Terrance Bullitt continues his unproductive season. Blake Dees didn't see many snaps against KSU, and that was a bit of a surprise.
Secondary: Cody Davis led the team with eight tackles, but still had his worst game of the season. He was entirely ineffective against the zone read, repeatedly getting caught out of position, much to the detriment of the team. Who would have expected him to play much better against the pass than the run? As expected, Tech gave up a long pass (Eugene Neboh was burned for a deep touchdown), but overall, coverage was not bad. Bruce Jones had his second strong game and tackled as well as he covered. Derrick Mays came in for an injured Neboh and immediately began missing tackles. D. J. Johnson had a quiet game.
Special Teams: Awful. Simply awful. A blocked field goal, a 10-yard kickoff return, a squib kick that set KSU up in great field position and a shanked punt that was the equivalent of a turnover all factored heavily in this loss. This side of the ball was a disaster. Even had Seth Doege played a perfect game, the special teams probably would have lost it.