There is no sugar coating this. This loss hurts. Bad. I’m not even sure which loss is worse: Texas, TCU, or today’s loss against Kansas State. The pain of each is the same for different reasons. Therein lies the problem with a fan base that is massively growing frustrated. Positive spin: pain is a feeling so the fanbase is still not on the brink if apathy.
If you could script an opening quarter, the way the game unfolded today from the opening kick through most of the first half is probably close to how you would want it to go aside from a defensive shutout. Texas Tech scored in two plays on a long run by Erik Ezukanma. Kansas State then fumbled the on the following kickoff return and Tech was able to score another touchdown on a 4th and short play to go up 14-0 before the defense even saw the field.
The second quarter was mostly back and forth relatively speaking as both teams scored 10 points each. There was a play where it appeared Kansas State jumped offsides and Henry Colombi thought he had a free play and threw into triple coverage. The penalty was on Texas Tech for illegal man downfield and the interception stood. Tech only had 5 penalties on the day but they were all very costly. More on that later.
If you want to script a half on how to lose a game you are leading, then the second half provided that for you. Tech fans got a taste of what Houston Cougars fans felt in the season opener. Tech was unable to score a single point in the second half and only had four possessions. Colombi seemed far more confused and under pressure in the second half than the first. There were times when the play hadn’t fully developed and he pulled the trigger early and there were times when he couldn’t pull the trigger soon enough as he was sacked three times. Three times is not a huge number but it felt like they all came in the second half.
Two key plays doomed the Red Raiders. Tech seemingly had all the momentum coming out of the halftime break. The defense stopped Kansas State with a three play and out. The following punt was short of Tech’s return man who waved everyone off but the ball rolled and bounced its way toward the goal line and the Wildcats downed it at the four yard line. Tech failed to block a defender on the next play and the Wildcats earned a safety (two points and Tech has to kick the ball). Those two points would help Kansas State secure the victory.
The second play was a third and 34. A completed pass play comes up well short of the first down but Tech is called for an illegal hands to the head penalty that resulted in an automatic first down. Absolute gut shot. I can only imagine that this is the point where hope of a victory was severely dampened. At least that was the point where discouragement was setting in for me personally. All a defense should care about on a third and 34 is securing the tackle.
There are certainly a myriad of other things that contributed to this loss. I’m certainly not going to claim the above two plays are the ONLY reason Tech failed to secure their sixth victory. Where were the coaching adjustments to counter Kansas State’s adjustments? Why wasn’t Donovan Smith used more? Why didn’t Smith throw at least one pass? Why did Ezukanma only have one reception? Mason Tharp should have a minimum of two targets per half in my opinion. There are countless questions fans can ask of a team or coach after a loss. To the victor goes the spoils and to the loser goes the questioning.
Unfortunately for head coach Matt Wells, performances like this add more fuel to the #FireWells crowd. They are vocal and growing in number. The supporters are being converted on a game by game basis. It’s probably safe to say that Wells wasn’t going to get a fair shot in Lubbock. His hire was not very popular to begin with. Of course, others will say that he had more than a fair shot but failed to win enough. As the saying goes, “life isn’t fair.”