Texas Tech Football: Issues affecting the 2017 season

LUBBOCK, TX - OCTOBER 21: Tre King /

Texas Tech Football started the season defying predictions, but after falling into a slump, there’s still time to prove they aren’t the team people thought they were going to be in 2017.

With seven games into the Texas Tech Football schedule, the issues are presenting themselves. From offensive line issues, to turnovers, field goals, and the loss of confidence, Texas Tech not only has schematic and fundamental problems to mitigate, they also have to find a psychological rhythm to mirror the swagger they had through the first three games.

Is there time to make the adjustments necessary? Absolutely, but the Red Raiders need to tackle every week with urgency and purpose, and against the Sooners in Norman this weekend, it will be no easy task.

The Offense

Offensive line issues last season were enough for Kliff Kingsbury to part ways with OL coach Lee Hays, but unfortunately, the issues have continued this season. When Kingsbury hired Texas Tech alumni, Brandon Jones, it wasn’t just on a whim. Jones was part of a rebuild process at Cal that made for quite the optimistic forecast, especially given his experience as a former Red Raider.

With 10 years of coaching experience from an offensive assistant from 2007-08, to Cal (2015-16), Jones has the resume necessary to instill old school Texas Tech Football discipline, but at the midway point of the season, the mistakes the OL is making are a huge contribution to why the window in the Kingsbury era appears to be closing.

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At Cal last season, the Bears had one of the top offenses in the country. So did Texas Tech, however, offensive line issues were masked by a quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, who had an incredible ability to evade sacks, and gain yardage on the ground.

Under Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech still boasts one of the top offenses in the country, though, by “Air Raid” standards, the offense has been sputtering as of late. Whether Kingsbury is drafting game plans off what’s worked for other offenses, or running the ball is due to lack of trust in the offensive line, it’s hard to look past that as the culprit for production shortfalls this season.


Texas Tech lost to Iowa State 31-13, but simple mistakes made an average team look good. The Cyclones scored off two turnovers: fumble/touchdown; fumble/field goal. That’s 10 points Texas Tech gave up over ball control issues, and that is unacceptable. For the defense to shut Iowa State out through two quarters, and allow just one touchdown in the second-half, proves the offense lost its confidence; turnovers tend to do that, after all.

If we assume Texas Tech won’t make another successful field goal this season, the least the offense can do is execute ball control to prevent other teams from quick scores.

RB Justin Stockton: Day-to-day

Running back Justin Stockton was injured last week against Iowa State, which was listed as a “head injury.” Stockton possesses a lot of characteristics that make him a vital asset on the offense.

“He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades in the pass game, great protection, and he’s run the ball really well in between the tackles this year,” Kingsbury said in Sunday’s presser. “So it obviously alters a couple of things that we do, but we have some depth there. We [have to] get Nisby caught up on some things. We have DaMarcus [Felton] still, and Tre’s [King] playing at a high level so we’ll make it work.”

Stockton is listed as day-to-day, and we’re not sure if he’ll be a go on Saturday night. As a result, we might see some adjustments in the offensive game plan. Oklahoma ranks 76th nationally in passing yards allowed this season, and Texas Tech ranks seventh in total offense, nationally. With that said, it might be beneficial for Kingsbury to go uptempo and focus more on getting into the endzone, rather than controlling the time of possession. I say this because Oklahoma ranks No. 114 nationally in redzone defense, allowing 22 scores total, so it makes for an opportunistic matchup.

For those wondering, Texas Tech’s defense is much more evenly matched stacked against the Oklahoma redzone offense, which ranks 40th nationally, compared to Tech’s redzone defense, which ranks No. 56 nationally.

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Whether Stockton is a go or not on Saturday is anyone’s guess at this point, but the progression from King and Nisby this season are a much needed safety valve for the run game heading into Norman. If the offensive line can tighten up and give Shimonek more time to go through his reads, scoring production could increase exponentially, and if turnovers can be eliminated, the team as a whole could finally break through.

The issues prefaced with “if” are what’s holding Texas Tech Football back from being truly competitive.

With Kingsbury’s seat heating back up following two in-conference losses, there are still tangible wins for Texas Tech Football this season, and time to make corrections. But a strong showing in Norman this weekend is critical–especially in the recruiting game.