Texas Tech Football: Defining Moments of 2014


Now that the Texas Tech football season is over and we’ve had plenty of time to move through stages of grief associated with a 4-8 record, it is possible to point to five moments that defined Tech’s worst season since the 1980’s.   Today, we begin a in-depth series diagnosing each of the five moments that might have seemed innocuous when they happened but upon further examination, we can see how each moment had a huge impact on the 4-8, 2014 Red Raider football season.

Moment 1. Back-to-Back Bizarre Penalties in El Paso

What happened:

The story of the 2014 Red Raider football season begins and ends with penalties and turnovers. The first dramatic turn the 2014 season took was in El Paso, Texas where Tech led UTEP 23-13 at the 3:21 mark of the third quarter. On their own 49-yard line, the Miners faced a 3rd and 8. Tech got a stop when Branden Jackson pressured UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers into throwing the ball away.

The next three minutes of Tech’s 2014 season would be perhaps the most bizarre stretch in recent program history.

UTEP punted the ball and No. 13 Cameron Batson, Tech’s punt returner allowed the ball to bounce into the end zone for a touchback. The only problem was that Tech’s middle linebacker, Sam Eguavoen, who also wore No. 13, was on the field during the play as well. For the first time in the memory of almost any football observer, a team was penalized for having two players wearing the same number on the field at the same time.

After the five-yard penalty, UTEP was facing a 4th and three, and with nothing to lose as the heavy underdog, they decided to go for the first down. But before the play was run, Tech was penalized five yards for “sideline interference” by the referee who explained that the Tech coaches “were in an area where they were not supposed to be.”

For the second time in under a minute, one of the most unusual penalties in football was called against Texas Tech and the result was a new set of downs for the Minors. The UTEP drive ended with thirteen seconds left in the third quarter when this happened:

How this moment defined Tech’s season:

After an unimpressive seven point win in the season opener against Central Arkansas, Texas Tech football fans and the media alike expected Tech to drub an inferior UTEP team. However, the penalties and turnovers that have become as much of a tradition at Texas Tech as the Masked Rider and the Victory Bells kept UTEP in the game. In fact UTEP lead 6-0 after one quarter.

But as the third quarter moved along, Tech opened up a ten-point lead on a touchdown pass from Davis Webb to Bradley Marquez. Forcing a stop on the ensuing possession, it appeared that all the momentum was on Tech’s side and the Red Raiders were on their way to a comfortable fourth quarter. Keep in mind that this game started at 9 pm in El Paso so the already fickle Miner fans were probably thinking about heading home if Tech scored again to make it a three-score game.

Facing an empty stadium and a 17-point deficit, the double-digit underdog Miners likely would have folded up shop being proud to have hung with a Big XII team for three quarters.

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But Jeremiah Laufasa’s TD run brought the home team  — and their inebriated fans — back to life, and Tech faced a battle heading into the 4


quarter. Tech had to pull out a win on another touchdown connection between Webb and Marquez with 2:33 left in the game.

For the second week in a row, Tech was barely able to avoid an embarrassing loss to a huge underdog, but their failure to put away two undermanned teams would have huge implications for the 2014 season; implications that would not be fully realized until two games later.

Often, one of the most interesting aspects of early season non-conference games against the little sisters of the lame the blind, is the chance to see young players, most importantly freshmen, on the field during garbage time. These two incredibly stupid penalties (though many argue the call against the Tech coaches was absurd especially after years of seeing guys like Paul Rhodes and others standing almost on the hash-marks to berate officials) ensured that backup quarterback and true freshman, Patrick Mahomes would have no collegiate snaps before Big XII play began.

It is easy to get meaningful game reps for freshmen at any other position but there is only one quarterback on the field at a time and Tech needed every snap from Webb to secure the first two wins of the year. Games that should have been glorified scrimmages turned into dogfights, and though Tech won on the scoreboard, the games felt like losses because Tech lost the chance to prepare their freshman backup for Big XII action.

Two games later, Pat Mahomes got his first reps as a college quarterback when Davis Webb was knocked out of a game that was still within reach against Oklahoma State. Because Tech did not get Mahomes any reps in the first two games, the true freshman saw his first live college action in one of the most difficult road environments in the conference. His first snap came in the 4th quarter of a winnable game, and like freshmen are apt to do, he tried to do too much and threw one of the worst and most ridiculous interceptions in the history of college football cementing Oklahoma State’s lead, and ending Tech’s chances of a comeback.

That game meant Tech would start the conference schedule with a loss.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Moment No. 2 – The final two minutes of the first half against Arkansas.