I had a fun format for this piece after the West Virginia game. A recap, followed by some spotlight worthy players and some areas to improve upon. After that “football” game I cannot bring myself to actually write the recap. And in a beating that bad, no one deserves a spotlight.
I said this year is my year of optimism, so before I hop into trying to point out what went wrong on Saturday I wanted to try to give everyone a much needed shot of hope. Hopefully that will help all of our dear readers resist the urge to read the next section and cry.
Finding the silver lining
The silver lining for this week is just that it will get better. Matt Wells might not be the guy to fix this mess, but there will be a time Tech can field a competitive team week after week. The program is a coach away from success, and if Wells is not that guy then it will be time to gear up for another regime after next season. Defeatism that the program will never recover is off base. No, Tech won’t become the next Oklahoma but it can get back to being relevant and fun.
In the meantime, support the team and try to enjoy the high moments. Winnable games abound coming up, and that can salvage a disappointing pandemic season.
What grinds my gears
Coaching - I really don’t think I need to explain this bullet, but because nobody wants to read a piece where I just say “they suck”. First and foremost, the total inability to prepare a football team is just ridiculous to me. How many penalties did Tech wrack up in five minutes? 5 or 6? Including Wells himself drawing a fifteen yarder. Undisciplined nonsense against good teams is just a hallmark of Matt Wells football.
More so than simple lack of preparation was a lack of any in-game coaching. Once the team felt the game starting to slip, the staff just seemed to take a nap and let it happen. OU was better than Tech, no one questions that. But the first two drives demonstrated that the gap was not the chasm it turned into. Patterson’s scheme was ineffective, Yost had zero answers for a defense that was designed to counter his stupid short game, and Wells couldn’t rally a starving man to eat some bread. No, Wells is not going to be fired this year. But a house cleaning is in order, this is just not working. Fresh blood might rejuvenate a dying program.
Penalties - I blame coaches for penalties, but considering Tech has largely avoided shooting itself in the face with them this year the sudden self-destruction also falls on the players lap. Who has a 3rd and 45 play tucked away? Penalties will ruin any chance of competing against good teams. Tech had OU dead to rights in the red-zone to force a field goal and likely salvage momentum and a stupid penalty hand them a first and goal. Penalties were the difference between a decent showing, and the disaster that unfolded.
Protect the football - If a ball hits a receivers hands it should be caught most of the time. Yes, a ball thrown behind/tipped is a hard ball to catch but the scholarship generously awarded means that someone believes that receiver should catch the ball. Two tip drill interceptions that both receivers should have caught completely changed the shape of the game. It was disappointing to see the strongest unit all season struggle so mightily. More frustrating was issues with the snap. The lost fumble came off a botched snap, and that was not the only issue with that fundamental exchange. Henry Colombi shoulders more of the blame for not securing the not-terrible snap that got away from him, but the erratic snaps are a reoccurring problem. Not being able to reliably snap the ball in a shotgun offense is unacceptable, and finally led to the turnover everyone could see it would eventually cause.