That’s right, it’s your favorite Kingsbury fan - I mean critic - back to tell you about how this season is all Kingsbury’s fault; except this game wasn’t his fault. This was quite the opposite. The team won in spite of the awful culture that Kingsbury had rooted this program over the past six years. In just two weeks Matt Wells took this team from “not winning another conference game” to “maybe we can be topple another power!”
There were many things to look at from yesterday. First, Jett Duffey looked like an actual quarterback: making good throws and avoiding pressure. He did a ton of great things that might even make me think there could be a quarterback controversy brewing as soon as Alan Bowman gets healthy. Second, the defense looked GREAT the entire game, I know they gave up 35 points but the way it happened actually inspired me. Seven sacks, multiple turnovers, it was great to see Keith Patterson do with this defense in his first what David Gibbs promised us and could not do for many years.
The biggest takeaway I have from this game is that the team stayed sharp the entire game. Although they let Oklahoma State get within 10, they never let them into the game late. This is different than what usually happened with Coach Kliff Kingsbury at the helm.
Let’s look at some examples shall we?
My two personal favorites are from the 2017 season. A ranked Texas Tech team storms into West Virginia and for a good long while in this game, it looked like Tech was gonna go into the next week with a 5-1 record and a ranking next to their name. But then that 22-0 fourth quarter that saw the lead turn into a loss dashed all hopes of a great season under the now fourth year head coach in Kingsbury.
Later in that season, Kansas State came to Lubbock for a senior day showdown of two 4-4 teams that were looking for another big step in the direction towards a bowl game. With 14 minutes left, Nic Shimonek (remember him?) threw a touchdown to T.J. Vasher and the lead was 35-24.
You guessed it, we gave up that lead and ultimately lost in over time. The team finished the game giving up 18 unanswered points and losing their way offensively. That was honestly the last straw for me. After that game I thought it was time to move on from Kingsbury and I never really lost that feeling until he was ultimately canned over a year later.
Both of these could have saved Kingsbury his job. Imagine if the team hadn’t lost that lead against West Virginia. The team might have been a top-20 team going in with a ton of confidence against an Iowa State team that was so-so. The team might have shown up that year for that homecoming game and we might have made it to a decent bowl game that season.
Let’s examine that last thought further. Adversity was a big thing during the Kingsbury era. There’s constantly adversity in football, but Kingbsury made it a habit to fail at overcoming gut-wrenching losses and bouncing back. Those two games were the first half of a 4 game losing streak and losing the 6 of their final 8 games. That 2017 team never really recovered from that first loss to West Virginia.
Last time I talked about Kingsbury and the reason this team lost to Arizona, I touched on culture and some of you rightfully pointed out that I didn’t explain it fully so I’ll do it here. Culture isn’t something that can be fully defined because it’s hard to see it until it’s really apparent that culture is the issue or the reason the team wins.
Adversity is a big part of culture. More specifically, the ability to look adversity in the face, punch it in the mouth, and move on is a big part of building and sustaining culture. Every season that Kingsbury was in Lubbock, the team lost at least three games in a row. In his first and last season, that number was five in a row.
I think it all starts with the attitude of the head coach. Last week, it looked like the Oklahoma game was the start of an awful Big 12 season based on how the team was prepared for the game and how the coaches and players reacted after the game. I wrongfully assumed the team would come out like that again this weekend.
Quite the one-week turn around for Texas Tech Football, and after the win over Oklahoma State, Jordyn Brooks opened up about a players-only meeting that the Red Raiders had on Monday following the loss to Oklahoma. pic.twitter.com/FOssITqiGM— Eric Kelly (@EricKellyTV) October 5, 2019
This program, starting with Head Coach Matt Wells, stood up and punched adversity in the mouth this week. Every one from the head coach, to the quarterback, to the athletic trainers, to the equipment manager was sharp from Monday on and it showed yesterday.
I’m not saying that I expect the team to win out, I don’t expect that at all. I will say this, I’m a recent graduate from Texas Tech and only one other time in 2015 did I see the fans stay in their seats for the entire game yesterday. One time in four seasons did all the fans stay in their seats the entirety of the game.
It all starts with the stuff behind the scenes and this program has hopefully figured that out, something that never happened in the Kingsbury era. I saw the program turn a page this weekend, away from below average football and towards great things.