The Red Raiders (5-5, 2-5 in the Big 12) took turns blundering the game away Saturday en route to a 31-26 loss to an average at best Mountaineers squad, who as such, gave Texas Tech several opportunities to get out of town with a win.
But in what has become an all too familiar occurrence, the Red Raiders wilted down the stretch and in doing so dropped their 17th consecutive contest against a Big 12 opponent not named Iowa State or Kansas dating back to 2013.
Let me count the ways, to borrow a term from RP senior writer Joe Yeager, Tech snatched defeat from the jaws of victory:
- The only time I remember Branden Jackson's name being called was for the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the final drive of the game. That likely ended Tech's chances of getting off the field without giving up any points not to mention of winning the game.
- Micah Awe's 15-yard facemask penalty on the goal line really did end Tech's chances of a desperation win as West Virginia (4-4, 1-4) was able to just kneel on the ball for the victory.
- Sandwiched between those two plays defensive end Pete Robertson lost containment on a third and seven play, allowing a West Virginia running back to get to the edge, get a first down and continue the drive.
- Not once, but TWICE in the second half Clayton Hatfield kicked the ball out of bounds. Another time he was actually able to keep the ball in play but the kick was a good 7-yards plus short of the goal line and West Virginia returned the kick to the 40 before marching down for a touchdown.
- Kliff Kingsbury's reverse pass play call on first and goal in the second half was a wasted play and a major reason Tech was forced to settle for a field goal.
Texas Tech dropped at least six passes, including two by receiver Devin Lauderdale, who let a touchdown slip through his hands in the third quarter after being benched before the game and dropping a well set up screen pass earlier in the contest.
I would question why Lauderdale was re-inserted into the lineup after being benched and the initial drop, but then again the starter, true freshman Tony Brown, finished with zero catches and a holding penalty.
Heck, even quarterback Patrick Mahomes caught a pass. It wasn't just Lauderdale and Brown who struggled. True freshman Keke Coutee dropped a perfect pass in his hands, the normally sure-handed inside receiver and punt returner Cameron Batson dropped a pass that Mahomes stuck between the numbers after scrambling for his life.
Beyond the drops, Tech had a difficult time getting open Saturday. Some of that is due to scheme as West Virginia dropped eight back in coverage a lot, but other times they simply could not beat 1-on-1 coverage and Mahomes was forced to scramble for his life.
Tech's outside receivers have been a major disappointment and regressed throughout the season.
Season low marks set by Texas Tech on Saturday:
- 14 first half points
- 26 total points
- 199 passing yards
- 378 total yards
- 23 first downs
- 4.8 yards per play
Defense Blew it Late
Tech's defense is horrendous. Even defensive coordinator David Gibbs is quick to point it out every Monday during Tech's weekly press conference. Tech was manhandled again Saturday en route to 300 rushing yards for the Moutaineers, yet the Red Raider defense made some plays. It forced two turnovers, came up with a season-high three sacks and frustrated Skyler Howard, who is a below average Big 12 quarterback.
West Virginia did Tech some favors by continuing to pass (ineffectively) late despite controlling the line of scrimmage.
That's what has to make the the poor plays by the senior leaders on the final drive maddening for Tech fans.
Is Kingsbury the right man for the job?
Despite having a ginormous advantage at the quarterback position in terms of talent and winning the turnover battle Saturday, Texas Tech blew another opportunity for a Big 12 win and to become bowl eligible. This is easily the most disappointing performance by the Red Raiders under Kliff Kingsbury to-date and begs the question is Kingsbury the right man for the job?
At this point you HAVE to ask yourself that question given the results.
Texas Tech Under Kingsbury:
- 17-18 overall
- 8-17 in the Big 12
- 0-3 against OU
- 0-3 against Oklahoma State
- 0-3 against Baylor
- 0-2 against Kansas State
- 0-2 against UT
- 1-2 against West Virginia
- 1-2 against TCU
The next question is can Texas Tech even afford to cut ties with him since giving him a contract extension prior to the 2014 season which pays him nearly $23M through 2020, more importantly just over $17M guaranteed? Following this season Kingsbury will still be owed a guaranteed $12.7M according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.