"We talk about it all the time. Fortune favors the bold," Kinsbury said after the game. "We're not going to leave it up to anyone else. We knew it was up to him [Webb] to make good throws, and today he did that."
No, that wasn't what Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said after Saturday's 37-34 gut punch of a loss to West Virginia, Tech's eighth-straight in Big 12 play and fourth overall.
The above quote was after Kingsbury rolled the dice with aggressive playcalling in a tight game in Morgantown last year which resulted in a 37-27 win over the Mountaineers (Tech's last Big 12 victory).
I wrote a story at the time detailing just how amazingly bold Tech was on the winning drive and how easily it could have backfired. Well, it didn't and Kingsbury was lauded for his aggressiveness.
This time around, with seven straight conference losses, three overall this season pressing down on the Red Raiders' collective chests Tech went conservative. Facing 4th and 3 at the West Virginia 46 with just under a minute to play Kingsbury elected to punt.
The punt was hammered into the end zone for a touchback. West Virginia senior quarterback Clint Trickett then calmly and methodically moved the Mountaineers down the field in position for a 55-yard field goal try which kicker Josh Lambert promptly drilled through the uprights in the final seconds to complete the comeback win.
When asked about his decision to punt in the postgame press conference Kingsbury was unusually forthcoming and quite the opposite of the confident coach from just a season ago.
"I thought we could pin them back. We ended up kicking it in the end zone, and on second thought had we known that we probably would have went for it, but thought we could pin them back and them only having a couple timeouts, go to overtime," Kingsbury said. "Yeah, I didn't like how we were handling the man coverage to be honest. They kept rolling down and playing it and we couldn't win and we couldn't make the throw, so we just decided to do that."
Truth is, I thought Kingsbury made the correct coaching move by punting. His quarterback will fire an on target laser to the sideline from the opposite hash against solid coverage for a completion and then turn around and miss a wide open receiver five yards away from him on a screen. Couple that with the fact his receivers will make circus catches on one play and then drop routine grabs the next, and you can't blame him for losing confidence in his players.
Quarterback Davis Webb backed his coach's play following the game.
"That's Coach Kingsbury's decision. We support that decision, and if we didn't it, that's a heck of a field position for them, so no, we should have completed that pass," Webb said. "That's my fault. Yeah, we should have got that 3rd and 3. I missed that slant a little high, and they just got us."
Kingsbury added the coaches need to do a better job and accepted responsibility at every turn, but the admission of losing confidence in his players was a surprise to me.
For the record, I thought and even wrote last season that Tech mishandled the late-game situation in Morgantown, but they were rewarded for their aggressiveness by taking the win. Saturday, the Red Raiders played conservatively down the stretch and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
As they say, fortune favors the bold.