One week ago the Texas Tech Red Raiders found out what happens when you play like garbage against a poor football team. Against the Oklahoma Sooners, they found out what it feels like when you play like ordure against a good team. And as a consequence of those two awful consecutive performances, the Red Raiders now know what it means to be in crisis mode.
My how the tide has turned.
Following an impressive road win over Arkansas, and a fluky loss to TCU, the general sense was that Texas Tech had a very good football team. Football observers gave the Red Raiders a Mulligan for their loss to Baylor, and after Tech mopped the floor with Iowa State the Mulligan seemed justified. Sure, the Red Raiders took it on the chin against a superb Baylor team, but they bounced back and showed their true mettle against the Cyclones.
Since the victory over ISU, however, we have seen a very different Tech team, and frankly this new incarnation is as ugly as sin.
The Red Raiders sleepwalked their way through a 30-20 win over a Kansas team that may well be the worst in the history of the Big 12.
“No problem,” said the experts. “Tech got a bad game out of its system and received a salutary wakeup call in the process without absorbing an L.”
The Red Raiders who whipped Arkansas would show up in Norman and give the Sooners everything they wanted.
Ha! What folly.
What we saw from Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3 in the Big 12) was a clinic in bad football, every bit as bad as what the Red Raiders put on display during last season’s 4-and-8 slog.
How miserable was Texas Tech in its 63-27 loss Saturday? Let me count the ways.
In a quarterback-centric program such as Tech’s, it all starts with the signal caller, and Patrick Mahomes, formerly seen as the iron-clad guarantor of Tech’s competitiveness, was average at best against the Sooners. The most obvious indicator of Mahomes’ disappointing play was the four interceptions he threw. Prior to the Oklahoma game, ball security was one of Mahomes’ strengths, but poor decision-making and recurrent greed for the highlight-reel play resulted in four turnovers that blew to smithereens whatever shot Tech had at winning.
Additionally, there were instances where Mahomes seemingly failed to check the Red Raiders out of bad plays and into good ones. Tech ran when they should have passed and passed when they should have run.
But if the Red Raider defense had put up a good fight, the game might have been close despite Mahomes’ interceptions and poor field generalship. Instead, viewers were treated to one of the worst defensive exhibitions in recent Texas Tech football history, and that is really saying something.
The Sooners ran not for 200, not for 300, but north of 400 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per carry in the process. The Texas Tech faithful doubtless had flashbacks to the horrid defense of 2003, which at one point was statistically the worst in college football.
Now if giving up 400 rushing yards wasn’t enough to turn the viewer’s stomach, note well that Oklahoma entered the game with the nation’s 81st ranked rushing attack, netting only 159 rushing yards per game. Note further that the Sooners were No. 102 in rushing yards per carry. When one factors in OU’s prior inability to run the football effectively, this may have been Tech’s worst all-time performance against the run.
The Red Raiders couldn’t fit their gaps, they couldn’t get off blocks, and they couldn’t tackle. This really did look like a high school defense attempting to stop a college offense.
Compounding the debacle was penalties. Tech committed seven for 68 yards, and three were stupid personal foul penalties. As the season wears on it seems that the lack of discipline that hallmarked last year’s team is making a return.
One could go on at length chronicling the areas where the Red Raiders failed miserably, but that would be overkill. The bottom line is that Tech is not playing anywhere close to its potential—particularly on offense where real talent exists—and if they don’t stick the pieces back together immediately, a once promising season will spiral into gloom.
The task at hand is clear. Either the Red Raiders bounce back with a victory next Saturday against Oklahoma State, or this team could very well finish on a five-game losing skid, and with the program’s second consecutive losing season. And one thing is painfully clear--if Tech plays the way it has the last two weeks, they will not win another game.