In our newest feature Point/Counterpoint, Matt and I will be each answer a question about Red Raider football from a different point-of-view. Our hope to provide some good information, a friendly debate and feedback from you on what you think the correct answer is. Ultimately, you will decide for yourself which one of us is right. We are going to start by looking back at last season this week.
So this week's question is........What is the reason for the 4-8 record in 2014?
Defense, or should I say lack thereof, is the reason for the abysmal 2014 season. There is no other answer to this question. Let's start with the basic defense stats from last season.
Do I need to go any further? Probably not, but I will try to give a few more reasons why the defense was to blame for the 4-8 record last season. Below are a few more in-depth defensive stats, which I think emphasize just how bad this defense really was.
First Down Rate: The percentage of opponent offensive drives that result in at least one first down or touchdown.
Available Yards: Yards earned by the opponent offense divided by the total number of yards available based on starting field position.
Explosive Plays: The percentage of each opponent offense's drives that average at least 10 yards per play.
Value Drive: The percentage of each opponent offense's drives beginning on their own side of the field that reach at least the team's 30-yard line.
*Stats courtesy of www.footballinsiders.com
I will take it just one step further. Let's look at the points they gave up to their opponents versus their scoring average.
There were only three occasions where the Tech defense held their opponents under the season scoring average.
#1) Central Arkansas - We were the only FCS defense UCA faced all season.
#2) UTEP - We pulled out a late win here and held them under the average, barely.
#3) Baylor - We knocked their #1 QB out of the game.
The defense gave up an average of 8.5 points more to their opponents than their season average, so we were down a touchdown before we even stepped on the field last season.
The simple deduction to make from all of the stats is that the Texas Tech defense was one of the worst in the nation. They gave up tons of yards in big chunks that led to opponents scoring a lot of points. No matter what the other 2 facets of the game (offense and special teams) had done, they would never be able to overcome the obstacle that was this defense. I mean it would have been nice if Coach Kingsbury had not tried to the hurry up offense at every opportunity. I am not sure why he would want to rush to get one of the nation's worst defensive units back out onto the field as quickly as possible. It reeks of Mike Leach's stubbornness and refusal to adjust his offense to help the team but I digress.
The hope is that David Gibbs can come in and turn this defense around. I think his experience in college and the NFL, a year of experience for what was a young defense last season and adding a couple of young studs (Mitchell & Fehoko) could vastly improve this defense. Let's hope because otherwise it will be another long, bowl-less football season.
For those that can't see the forest through the trees the common thing to point your finger at would be the defense. That's the simple minded take on this. Only a simpleton would refuse to take a look from a cruising altitude of 30k feet and think big picture, more holistically. In the end, yes, your defense is ultimately what allows the opposition to cross a goal line; however, it was the offense that refused to seize the moments of opportunity and continuously put out defense in compromising positions. This is very similar to ‘the second guy always gets caught'.
I'll kick it off by questioning our unquestionable leader, Kliff Kingsbury. He is a guy who has a Head Coach title but prefers Offensive Coordinator duties. Maybe he wasn't aware but he was going into the season with a true Sophomore QB who was a model of inconsistency season prior and no proven talent at the WR positions. On the flip side he had a road-grading offensive line and a stable of above average RBs each with unique skill sets. The most glaring fact going into the season was a defense long on inexperience and short on depth. Even a monkey would tell you our best bet, especially early in the season, was to run ball and run clock. KK bunked conventional wisdom and wanted to air the pigskin accentuating our weakness at QB/WR, underutilized our strengths (RB/OL) thus causing our undermanned defensive group no time to rest as they were constantly trotting back out onto the field.
Time of Possession:
Tech ranked 124 out of 125 D1 football teams in this category averaging a mere 26:03 minutes of possession per game. The KK apologists would argue that this is by design. Well, kind of, but in reality this was more an effect of 3 and outs, turnovers and for the better part of the season ignoring the great running game. Kliff set the tone for the season by coming out with guns blazing...too bad we were shooting blanks. 3 passes and a punt vs. Central Arkansas, 3 passes and a punt vs. UTEP, 3 passes and a punt vs. Arkansas. Nothing like starting a football game (and in retrospect a season) by immediately handing momentum to the other team and only running 12-15 second of game clock while doing so. Even when we scored it was generally so quick the defense didn't' have a chance to catch their breath. This is a product of a head coach who isn't looking big picture. Kingsbury seems overly focused on becoming an offensive guru vs. stepping back and understanding his team as a whole and what would be in their best interest.
Tech turned the ball over 28 times last season (18 Interceptions / 10 fumbles). 18 picks were tied for 6th worst in the country. We ranked 118 of 125 in interceptions thrown/game and 100 of 125 in fumbles lost/game. For those that didn't know a turnover results in an additional possession for the other team to score points and takes away an opportunity for your own team to score points. A huge detriment when in order to win the game you must outscore your opposition. Let me add a bit more. It puts your defense back on the field draining their energy. It takes away any and all momentum the team had and immediately hands it over to the other team. It's not just the overwhelming count of turnovers it's when they happened and it's the immeasurable consequences of them. A few of the more memorable:
Up 7-0 against Arkansas after our special teams created a turnover and the defense had just made a stop forcing a punt Jakeem Grant fumbles the ball away at the Tech 15 yard line. Arkansas scores a few plays later and the game snowballed out of control from there.
Tied 7-7 at Oklahoma St Davis Webb throws at interception at the Oklahoma St. 10yd line. A few posssessions later tied 14-14 Davis Webb throws an INT from the Tech 21 giving OSU the ball which they convert into a TD the very next play and go into half up 21-14 thus putting a fork in our chances.
First possession at Kansas State we drive the ball to the Kansas State 7 yard line and Davis Webb throws an interception. A chance to start the game by making a statement instead we shoot ourselves in the foot. Another costly turnover at the end of the first half allowed KSU to put another 7 on the board and roll into half time up 24-10.
Up 21-10 in the last possession of the first half against West Virginia Davis Webb throws an interception at the WVU 9yd line. Going into the half with a 24-10 or 28-10 lead would have been too much for the Mountaineers to overcome.
In summary we took away a potential 196 pts we could have scored and gave our opponents an additional 196 they could have put on the board. That's a 392 point swing! If that's not a kick in the pants I don't know what is.
Red Zone Offense:
Tech ranked 100 of 125 in red zone efficiency. 39 attempts with 29 scores results in us cashing in on only 76% of our opportunities when inside the opponents 20. Of those scores only 22 were touchdowns. Just a shade over half the time when within 60 feet of the goal line we were punching it across for 6points. That's terrible and is a key ingredient in an abysmal season.
Take a minute to think about the personnel (or lack thereof) we had returning on the defensive side of the ball going into the 2014 campaign. If you knew before last season started our offense would piss away a potential 196 points and gave the opposition a potential 196 points accounting for a 392 potential points swing what do you think our record would have been? Lastly, who SHOULD you blame for that record?
We would love to hear your thoughts. Hit us up below and let us know. Next time we take a look at recruiting and ask the question, "Do you need to take a QB in every recruiting class?"