Texas Tech Digresses in Loss to OU


On Saturday, the Texas Tech football program learned just how far it needs to go to be able to compete with the Big 12’s elite programs. Kliff Kingsbury’s young team was beaten in every facet of the game by the No. 17 Oklahoma Sooners in their 63-27 loss in Norman.

The marquee matchup of the day, was supposed to be Texas Tech’s No. 2 nationally ranked offense against the Big 12’s top ranked defense. But that matchup, like every aspect of the game, was dominated by the Sooners.

The physical and speedy Sooner defense became the first defense to make Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes look awful after the sophomore started his career with a season’s worth of sterling performances.

Mahomes was 26/40 for a career low 233 yards and a career worst 4 interceptions. Unable to find the big play downfield, Mahomes had to utilize the short to intermediate passing game averaging only 5.8 yards per completion.

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Part of Mahomes’ struggles can be attributed to the inability of the Texas Tech offensive line to slow the Oklahoma pass rush, especially after Texas Tech lost starting right tackle Baylen Brown to injury.

Mahomes’ first interception was thrown directly into the hands of Oklahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker as he jumped to snatch the pass out of the air near the line of scrimmage. His second interception was also a result of the Oklahoma defensive line when OU defensive end Charles Tapper deflected a Mahomes’ pass into the air where it eventually settled into the arms of linebacker Frank Shannon.

But Mahomes’ most damaging interception occurred with just seconds remaining in the first half. Down only 11 points at the time, Texas Tech was marching towards the end zone when Mahomes under threw a fade route for Reginald Davis that was picked off by OU  corner back Dakota Austin.

It appears that the book on Mahomes has begun to say that a defense can force him into mistakes by taking away the big play. Able to pressure Mahomes without heavy blitzing, the Sooners were able to drop enough defenders in coverage allowing its safeties to keep a lid on Texas Tech’s deep passing game.

On the other side of the ball, the mismatch was even more pronounced.

Texas Tech’s defense put up as little resistance to Oklahoma’s rushing attack as a penny does a to freight train when laid upon the tracks.

Led by sophomore running back Samaje Perine, the Sooners amassed 405 yards on the ground. Oklahoma averaged 7.1 yards per carry against the porous Texas Tech defense that is still trying to rebuild itself in its first year under defensive coordinator David Gibbs.

Perine, who dominated Texas Tech last year in Lubbock to the tune of 213 yards and three touchdowns, was a monster again on Saturday. On 23 carries, the 235-pound native of Pflugerville, Texas ran for 201 yards and four scores.

Freshman tailback Joe Mixon also impressed with 154 yards and 2 touchdowns on only 15 carries. The Oklahoma running game was so dominant that the most intriguing storyline of the week, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s first start against his former team never came in to play.

Mayfield did not have to do much and Texas Tech’s inability to stop the run made his day simple. On 15/22 passing, Mayfield had 201 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Overall, the day proved to be a reminder that Texas Tech is far from where it aspires to be which is atop of the Big 12 Conference. Against the top three teams in the conference, Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma Texas Tech is 0-3, losing by a combined 70 points (twice allowing the opponent to score 63 points).

Texas Tech lacks the depth and talent to compete at the highest level of the conference and that is to be expected from a program that has had three different head coaches since 2009 and seven different defensive coordinators in the past seven seasons.

But what Kliff Kingsbury’s team lacks more than talent is a winning mindset when stepping up to play against the big boys. The culture of the program is one of accepted mediocrity and impending doom developed over the past six years of turmoil and disappointment.

It has now been over two calendar years since Texas Tech defeated a Big 12 opponent other than Iowa State or Kansas (November 19, 2013 Texas Tech defeated West Virginia). The team is 1-14 under Kingsbury when trailing at halftime and has not defeated a ranked opponent since the 2013 Holiday Bowl against Arizona State.

But despite Texas Tech’s struggles against top notch competition this season, the program still has a chance to lay a winning foundation in 2015. With one win over the final four games of the season, Texas Tech will return to a bowl game after missing out on postseason play after last year’s 4-8 season.

But as for Saturday, Oklahoma’s mauling of the Red Raiders provided a stark reminder of how wide the chasm remains between where Texas Tech is and where the elite of the Big 12 are in terms of attitude and talent.

The question of whether or not the Texas Tech coaches can bridge that gap and how long that process may take is one that will only be answered in time. But unfortunately, along the way there will be games such as this where Texas Tech fans will be left frustrated, angry and in as much pain as if they had tried to tackle Samaje Perine themselves.

Next: Texas Tech is better off without Mayfield