Rock bottom is a tough place to imagine and an impossible one to verify, but Saturday sure felt like it. The Red Raiders were thrashed 66-10 by Iowa State in what was an all-around nightmare. The previously 2-8 Cyclones did whatever they wanted in every phase of their offense and made the Tech defense look worse than ever. Grading this performance was as easy as it was dispiriting.
Defensive Line: F
Iowa State running backs weren’t extremely effective, but the Cyclone ground attack was funneled through quarterback Joel Lanning. Lanning, whose previous season highs were 74 rushing yards and two touchdowns, racked up 171 yards and five rushing touchdowns in this game. QB Jacob Park did most of the passing for Iowa State and was never sacked and rarely pressured. When the guys up front come out flat, the rest of the defense is left vulnerable. This game was a prime example of how bad things can go when the D-line is ineffective.
Not being able to tackle Ballage from Arizona State or Mixon from Oklahoma was frustrating, but it was at least athletically reasonable. Those guys were big, strong runners with enough downhill power and elusiveness to make people miss. Lanning proved that literally anyone can look good if defenders can’t touch them. Not being able to shed blockers and fill gaps allowed yet another ball carrier to have a career day against this unit.
Defensive Backs: F
When the rushing attack wasn’t gutting the defense, the pass game was. Iowa State averaged over 15 yards per pass attempt and had four different receivers haul in a pass longer than 30 yards. Allen Lazard has given this defense fits in the past, but the rest of the ISU corps is underwhelming and should not have produced like they did. It’s hard to stop the pass when you have to sell out for the run, but stopping neither is unacceptable.
Overall Grade: F
It’s hard to argue that this wasn’t the worst performance of the Kliff Kingsbury era. Giving up gaudy offensive numbers is one thing when the opposing team has to keep their foot on the gas to outpace Tech’s own explosive offense. The ridiculous points and yardage totals against Arizona State and Oklahoma fit this category. But when your offense lays a dud and the defense continues to be gutted, it speaks volumes. Throw in that Iowa State probably has the second weakest roster in the conference and the magnitude of this failure becomes even clearer.
The Texas Tech defense has some soul-searching to do heading into the season finale. Having been eliminated from bowl contention, the team has nothing but Baylor to focus on. Even though Baylor have key injuries and depth issues, they still have more top-end offensive talent than Iowa State. If the Red Raiders don’t come out and play inspired football, things could get ugly again.