Texas Tech Football 2017 rewatch: Missed FG leads to loss to KSU

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 4: Justin Silmon #32 of the Kansas State Wildcats breaks away for a big gain against the Texas Tech Red Raiders defense during the first half of the game on November 4, 2017 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 4: Justin Silmon #32 of the Kansas State Wildcats breaks away for a big gain against the Texas Tech Red Raiders defense during the first half of the game on November 4, 2017 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech football team saw several of its biggest flaws come to a head against Kansas State in 2017 when a late missed FG cost the Red Raiders a crucial Big 12 win.

The 2017 Texas Tech football team experienced a perfect storm in a 42-35 week-ten overtime home loss to Kansas State.  In this game all of the issues that plagued last year’s team came together to cost the Red Raiders a game that was all but sown up with just over three minutes to play.

The defining moment of this game was Clayton Hatfield’s errant 31-yard FG attempt which would have put the Red Raiders up eleven points with just 3:40 to play.  But while that miss was egregious, it was not the sole cause of Texas Tech’s collapse.

Let’s start with the defense.  For most of the afternoon, David Gibbs’ unit, especially the secondary, was torched by two painfully mediocre KSU QBs.

In the first half, Alex Delton threw for 167 yards and a TD before being knocked out of the game on a Kolin Hill hit that was flagged for targeting prompting Hill’s ejection.  And after a slow start to the second half by backup Skylar Thompson, the redshirt freshman caught fire in the 4th quarter torching the Texas Tech defense with ease.

Thompson, KSU’s third-string QB when the season began, finished the game 5-8 for 96 yards and the game-winning TD in overtime.  While those stats are nothing special, Tech could not stop Thompson when it mattered most allowing him to lead a game-tying TD drive and two-point conversion covering 80 yards in just five plays.

But the Texas Tech offense could have saved the day.  However, two problems that persisted for most of the season came into play.

First, Texas Tech’s offense, which ranked No. 125 in the nation last year in red-zone efficiency, failed to convert on its last two drives of the game.  After reaching the KSU 13, Tech was forced to attempt the ill-fated Hatfield FG and in overtime, Tech could not find the end zone to answer the Wildcats’ touchdown.

The red zone failures point back to the play of QB Nic Shimonek who was just 1-4 passing in the extra frame after being set up with a first-and-goal at the KSU eight-yard-line.  What was worse was the final pass he attempted which almost landed in the stands giving the receiver absolutely no shot at making a play.

In a game pitting a senior QB making his ninth start of the season against a freshman QB with just eight collegiate passing attempts, Tech’s senior Nic Shimonek was outplayed by KSU freshman Skylar Thompson when the game was on the line.

That’s not even taking into consideration Shimonek’s 3rd-quarter interception that was returned for a TD.  At the time, KSU was struggling as Thompson found his footing and that costly turnover kept the Wildcats in the game.

The loss was Tech’s 4th-consecutive and dropped the team to 4-5 on the season.  But more than that, it was the moment when the Texas Tech faithful turned on the 2017 team.

Following this game, a huge portion of the fan base started calling for Kingsbury’s job and the negativity that was pervasive throughout the offseason was given life flowing this inexplicable loss.   Tech would rebound to win two of its final three games but the bitterness from this loss never faded and still taints the attitude of many fans to this day.

Game of inches doesn’t go Tech’s way

In any OT game, isolated plays can be the difference.  Two close pays in this game went against the Red Raiders.

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On the first drive of the game, Texas Tech dropped an easy interception when defensive backs Jaylon Lane and Vaughnte Dorsey collided when Dorsey had his hands on the ball.  Dorsey had nothing but green grass in front of him and could have flipped the field if not scored on the play.

But KSU kept the ball and would finish the drive with a field goal to go up 3-0.  Those three points would have been nice to have in the Red Raiders’ pocket as the game unfolded.

Another close play came on Tech’s final drive of regulation.  Up 8 points, Shimonek hit Keke Coutee  in stride for a 19-yard gain.  But KSU safety Kendal Adams was trailing Coutee and made a TD-saving tackle.

We saw Coutee break tons of tackles in the open field last year but Adams made a huge stop and Tech eventually had to settle for the Hatfield FG try that went awry.  If either of these two plays had turned out differently, the Red Raiders likely would have won this game.

Vasher’s Jekyll and Hyde performance

Texas Tech enters 2018 with sophomore wide receiver T.J. Vasher expected to be the focal point of the passing game.  The supremely talented Wichita Falls product had the best freshman season of any Texas Tech receiver other than Michael Crabtree but there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game.

The biggest knock on Vasher is his inconsistency.  He has developed the reputation for making the spectacular play but failing to come up with the routine catches.

Against KSU, Vasher was frustrating inconsistent.  This was never more evident than on back-to-back plays in the third quarter.

On 2nd-and-10, Vasher dropped an easy ball that Shimonek put right in his hands.  But on the next play, he would haul in a 22-yard touchdown to put Tech up 35-27.

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For the game, Vasher had 5 catches for 58 yards and a TD in his fourth collegiate start.  But he dropped three passes that would have moved the chains.  If he is to be a true breakout star this year, as many expect, he will have to make the easy plays with the same regularity as he makes the spectacular.