Yeager Shots: Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Raider Power senior writer Joe Yeager breaks down what went wrong in Texas Tech's 44-38 loss at Kansas State on Saturday night.

Contributions across the Board

If ever there was a “team” loss, Texas Tech’s 44-38 defeat at the hands of Kansas State was it. Every area of the team contributed mightily to the defeat. 

The offense, which was spectacular in the first half, scored only 10 points in the second. The running game, in short-yardage situations, was atrocious; pass protection, particularly from right tackle Justin Murphy, was abysmal, and quarterback Pat Mahomes looked hesitant and confused in the second half, as his normally laser-accurate arm went haywire. Then too, Mahomes threw a pick six in the first half. 

The defense, which played reasonably well in some respects, allowed workaday running back Charles Jones to rush for a career best 128 yards. Funny how opposing skill position players, going all the way back to North Carolina State’s T.A. McClendon in 2003, so often have career days against the Texas Tech defense. 

Furthermore, the defense created no turnovers.

Special teams, which have been a huge disappointment this season, allowed a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Without this breakdown, Tech may very well have snuck out of Manhattan with a win. 

Then there’s the coaching. Good lord, where to begin? 

Penalties? Tech was hit for nine amounting to the length of a football field.

Halftime adjustments? Texas Tech’s offense dominated in the first half and was stifled in the second. The Wildcats brought more pressure in the second half and the Red Raiders didn’t have an answer.

Play calling? Kliff Kingsbury elected to go for it on fourth down three times, and in every case came up dry. 

Time outs? Kingsbury burned through his allotment with 5:01 still remaining in the game.

Yessireebob, there was ignominy enough to cover the entire team.

Surprise, Surprise

Much maligned cornerback Justis Nelson is Texas Tech’s Defensive MVP up to this point. Quarterbacks rarely throw his direction, and when they do, he is inevitably up to the challenge. So congrats to Nelson for pushing through all the hard times and the negativity and becoming one of the best corners in the Big 12.

A Light Box

Despite the obvious fact that Texas Tech gets gouged badly by the run in virtually every game, defensive coordinator David Gibbs rarely loads the box against the run. Based on my initial live viewing of the game, there were rarely more than six Red Raiders in the box, and most of the occasions where that number was higher was when K-State was deep in the red zone. If the box remains light for the rest of the season, blown gap assignments will continue to be exposed badly. 

Cantrell Rewarded

Prior to tonight wideout Dylan Cantrell was noteworthy more for his outstanding blocking than for his receiving ability. Well, Kingsbury and Mahomes finally decided to throw the big dog a bone. Ten, to be precise. Cantrell caught 10 passes for 81 yards, and despite committing a costly holding penalty and an offensive pass interference, had an outstanding game. Because of his overwhelming strength and physicality, he is a nightmare matchup for all but the largest and most physical cornerbacks. 

New Face at PR

Presumably in the hope of getting something from Tech’s anemic punt return game, the coaches gave Keke Coutee a shot at returning punts. His one return went for 14 yards. It looks like an experiment worth trying again. 

Slowly but Slowly

For whatever reason—Perhaps to help the defense? Perhaps to cut down on penalties?—Texas Tech was much more deliberate on offense than usual. Going “tempo” rarely, the Red Raiders frequently flirted with delay of game penalties, such was the sluggishness of their pace. 

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