Texas Tech Football 2017 Rewatch: Defense has worst day of season vs. OU

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 28: Running back Rodney Anderson #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners cuts after breaking through the Texas Tech Red Raiders line at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech 49-27. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 28: Running back Rodney Anderson #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners cuts after breaking through the Texas Tech Red Raiders line at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech 49-27. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

Continuing our rewatch of the 2017 Texas Tech football season we take a look back at the loss at Oklahoma in which the 2017 defense reverted back to the awful form of the previous two seasons.

Heading to Norman, Oklahoma while in the midst of a losing streak is never fun but that is exactly what Texas Tech faced in the final week of October 2017.  Having lost three of its first four conference games including two-consecutive losses, the Red Raiders did not arrive in the most daunting road environment in the Big 12 brimming with confidence.  The result was a 49-27 loss that felt even more lopsided than that for the final three quarters of the game.

But in the first quarter, Kilff Kingsbury’s offense looked as good as it had all season.  Coming off a 13-point outing the previous week against Iowa State, Tech scored on its first three drives of the game and the first quarter ended with the Red Raiders up 20-14.

But after that, Tech struggled to keep pace with Oklahoma.  The Sooners outscored the Red Raiders 35-7 over the final three quarters of the game turning a competitive game into a route in the blink of an eye.

The game was the worst of the season by David Gibbs’s defense which looked frighteningly similar to the defenses from the past two years which each finished in the bottom two in the nation in total defense.

Tech gave up season highs in points (49), yards (617) and rushing yards (336).  Making this game feel even more like a vintage 2016 Red Raider defensive atrocity was the fact that OU had two running backs that Tech could not stop. What’s worse, neither entered the game as established stars.

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Making his first career start, sophomore Rodney Anderson ran for a then career-high 181 yards on just 24 carries.  Meanwhile, his backup and fellow sophomore Abdul Adams put up 95 yards on 10 carries.

Not to be outdone, the Texas Tech secondary continued its stretch of horrendous play.  OU wide receiver CeeDee Lamb set school records for receiving yards (147) and receptions (9) by a true freshman as part of a two-touchdown game.

Texas Tech left the game with a 4-4 overall record and just a 1-4 mark in the Big 12.  This was yet another forgettable night in Norman where Texas Tech has won only once in 13 games dating back to 1994.

OU Adjustments After 1st Quarter Shut Down Tech’s Offense

After the first quarter, it looked as if this game was going to be a repeat of the unreal 66-59 shootout between these two teams in Lubbock.  But the Sooners adjusted their defensive scheme to a more aggressive style of play and Tech could not answer.

In the fist quarter, Tech complied 211 of its 437 total yards while it built a six-point lead.  Tre King ran for 83 of his 133 yards in the first quarter as he and the Texas Tech running game got off to a fantastic start.

But as was so often the case last year, Tech could not sustain its offensive rhythm for the entire game.  When Oklahoma adjusted its defense in the second quarter, Tech’s offense yet again failed to make its own changes, something that has been an unfortunate hallmark of the Kingsbury era.

Guard Jack Anderson Has More Receptions Than Derrick Willies

After beginning the season as Texas Tech’s second-best weapon behind Keke Coutee, senior wide receiver Derrick Willies disappeared from the offense by the middle of the season.  In fact, his two catches against Iowa State were his final as a Red Raider.

Against OU, Willies did not play for the first time in 2017 and was replaced by redshirt freshman T.J. Vasher.  Willies had at least three catches in each of the first four games of the year but the supremely talented former JUCO all-American fell out of favor with the coaches because of his poor work-ethic and attitude.

Consequently, over the final five games, he would have fewer receptions than true freshman offensive guard Jack Anderson who had a caught a tipped pass against the Sooners.

Kolin Hill Sets Career High

If there was one bright spot for the Texas Tech defense, it was the play of outside linebacker Kolin Hill.  The junior had a career-high ten tackles including seven solo stops.

Hill had no more than five tackles in any other game last year as he continued to disappoint Texas Tech fans who expected more when he transferred from Notre Dame following his freshman season.

This year, Hill has reportedly dropped twenty pounds making him confident he can be a bigger factor in the pass-rush department.  Thus far, Hill has recorded a mere three sacks in two years at Texas Tech.  But as a senior in 2018, he will be one of the players that defensive coordinator David Gibbs will count on to have a greater impact for a defense that must improve its pass rush.

1st Quarter Offense A Preview Of 2018?

On the opening drive of the game, the Red Raiders ran the ball on eleven of fifteen plays including a stretch of six-straight carries for King.  That opened up the passing game for Nic Shimonek who had touchdown passes of 70 and 42 yards on the next two possessions.

Could this be what the 2018 offense looks like?  With a new QB and three new starting receivers, Kingsbury might be inclined to lean heavily on his run game, especially early in the season.

New offensive coordinator Kevin Johns was hired in large part because of his reputation for being an innovator in running the ball out of  spread formations.  In fact, in 2015, Johns’ offense at Indiana was the fist in history to have two 1,000-yard rushers and a 3,500-yard passer.

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The running game opened up the passing lanes for Shimonek who hit big plays on the second and third drives.  That would be a wise game-plan for this year’s starting quarterback, as whichever player wins the job will be starting for the first time and putting the game entirely upon his arm might not be the most effective strategy.