Once again Texas Tech not good enough to overcome mistakes


When a trend repeats itself enough it becomes a fact. Unfortunately, for Kliff Kingsbury’s Texas Tech football team the fact is that this squad is too mistake-prone to be successful in the Big 12 Conference.

Again, the team’s penchant for mistakes was on display Saturday in Morgantown, West Virginia as simple and unnecessary mistakes cost Texas Tech a shot at winning its sixth game and securing a bowl birth.

Dropped passes, penalties (including two dead ball personal fouls from senior team leaders) and missed assignments cursed Texas Tech again as it lost its 3rd consecutive game.

These are signs of an inexperienced team and Texas Tech is most certainly relying on far more freshmen and sophomores than it would like. Against West Virginia, Texas Tech started freshmen at both wide receiver positions, two linebacker spots, safety, and defensive tackle. But Kingsbury does not see that as an excuse.

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"“They shouldn’t be young. It’s our tenth game. They’ve played enough. It’s just not making plays when we needed them too” he said in the post-game press conference.  Link"

And while it is admirable for the head coach to refrain from making excuses, the truth is that a team relying on freshmen and sophomores to comprise half of its starters and top backups is not going to compete in major college football.

Certainly, the young players made their share of mistakes. Keke Coutee dropped a 20-yard pass on third down, Pat Mahomes threw an interception at the West Virginia 18-yard-line and corner Nigel Bethell committed a pointless pass interference on an badly overthrown ball.

But it was boneheaded mistakes made by Texas Tech seniors that cost the team one last shot at a come-from-behind victory.

On the final drive of the game, Texas Tech allowed West Virginia to run out the final 6-plus minutes of the game. The 16-play drive was aided by three awful Texas Tech mistakes.

The first mistake came when the Texas Tech defense failed to recover a fumble by West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood who recovered his own fumble in between two Red Raider defenders. Then, in the aftermath of the play, senior defensive end Branden Jackson, who grew up just 70 miles from Morgantown in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, pushed a Mountaineer right in front of an official drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

Finally, senior linebacker and team captain Micah Awe confused the head of West Virginia quarterback Skylar Howard with the football and tried to twist Howard’s head off of his body. The new set of downs killed any slight chance of a Texas Tech comeback. And in some respects it is poetic that the last act Texas Tech committed on a day when the team was a rambling parade of penalties and dropped passes was an egregious personal foul.

The only senior on the roster to play up to his potential was running back DeAndre Washington, the Texas Tech version of Old Faithful. Going against one of the Big 12’s top defenses Washington gained 102 yards on 21 carries and was Texas Tech’s leading receiver with six grabs for 64 yards and one touchdown. For the second straight season, Washington eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark. Last season he was the first Texas Tech 1,000 yard rusher since Ricky Williams in 1998.

But if Texas Tech is unable to get better performances from its other senior leaders like Jackson, linebacker Pete Robertson, inside receiver Jakeem Grant (only 5 catches for 8 yards and 1 score on the day), Awe and the rest of the Texas Tech upperclassmen then next week’s senior day will be a somber occasion.

Not only would a loss next week ruin the Texas Tech senior class’ final home game at Jones Stadium, it would all but kill the team’s shot at earning a bowl birth by forcing Texas Tech to win its final game in Austin on Thanksgiving night to reach six victories. Winning in Austin is something Texas Tech has not done since 1996 and the way the team is once again struggling in the second half of the season, that seems unlikely this year.

Time is running out on this Texas Tech team. With only two games remaining on the season, Tech faces a virtual must-win next week against Kansas State thanks to today’s wasted opportunity in West Virginia.

Next: Five Hits to Texas Tech's Loss to West Virginia

And if the Red Raiders are unable to win one of the season’s final two games, the Kliff Kingsbury era will be headed down a dangerous path towards irrelevance and perhaps abject failure.