Texas Tech football: Starting Jackson Tyner gave Red Raiders no shot at upset

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 28: Quarterback Jackson Tyner #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders throws against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Red Raiders 55-16. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 28: Quarterback Jackson Tyner #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders throws against the Oklahoma Sooners at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Red Raiders 55-16. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech football team’s decision to start QB Jackson Tyner over Jett Duffey gave the Red Raiders no shot at pulling off an upset of Oklahoma.

If we were all injected with truth serum prior to Saturday’s Texas Tech football game at Oklahoma, we would have all been forced to admit that we expected the Big 12 opener to play out just as it did.  The fact that the No. 6 Sooners routed the 27.5-point underdog Red Raiders 55-16 is about as surprising as the sun rising in the East.

But what was surprising is that the Red Raiders put up no fight at all and looked as if they would have rather stayed home than try to score a season-altering win.  And that tone was set when Matt Wells and OC David Yost decided to give grad transfer Jackson Tyner the start over junior Jett Duffey.

When we broke down the QB competition to start against OU, we discussed Tyner’s dreadful completion percentage (48%), his carer 4:7 touchdown to INT ratio, and his lack of any elite physical skill.  If it was clear to most fans that he gave this team no shot to win, there’s no doubt the players in the locker room knew that truth in their hearts as well.

Sure, they all put on the proper face and said what they needed to say.  Tyner can make plays and move the ball, they assured us.  It’s about all eleven guys, not just the QB, they said.

But they knew.  Anyone who has ever played a team sport at a competitive level, even as far down as junior high, knows that your brain can belive what the coaches want you to believe but your heart knows the truth about your teammates.

Starting Tyner gave Texas Tech zero shot at pulling the upset of OU or even making this game interesting for a half.  When teams pull off huge upsets, they almost always do so by jumping out to early leads.

That’s what Tech did in 2011 when upsetting No. 3 OU in Norman.  Seth Doege and his teammates ambushed the home team and jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead before hanging on for a 41-38 upset.

Saturday, Wells gave his team no shot of following that script because he chose his starting QB based on merit and not talent or ability.  Tyner is a hard worker, a decent practice player, and a studious player.  Those are great qualities that will take him far in life but they do not overcome a lack of talent.

Assuming that the rumors of Duffey being a horrible practice player and less than dedicated in the film room are true, some may defend the decision to start Tyner as being the proper call.  But all one has to do is look at the game film of both to see which is the more capable player.

Because Wells and Yost decided to give the start to Tyner based on factors that were not directly related to moving the offense…you know…factors like an ability to complete a pass, which Tyner had not done as a Red Raider prior to Saturday, Tech was all but assured of a slow start and that’s what we saw.

More from Wreck'Em Red

Before the only Big 12 caliber QB on the roster took a single snap on Saturday, Tech was down 14-0 to the No. 1 offense in the nation.  Game over.  Play Boomer Sooner on a loop.

"“You can’t spot the best team in the league, the defending champ four times in-a-row…17 or whatever it was right out of the gate,”  Wells said in his post-game press conference."

Wells was directing those remarks more towards the fact that his defense couldn’t make a stop on third down in the first half but much of the blame also falls on the failings of the offense.  If you know that you can’t fall way behind the top-scoring team in the conference, why start the QB whose best attribute is that he’s careful?  That might work against TCU or Kansas but not against OU.

To beat the Sooners, you have to score points.  So it would have made sense to start the QB that was capable of doing just that and living with any possible mistakes he might make.

To be fair, Duffey did not set the world on fire.  He was just 11/20 for 120 yards.  But he led his team to back-to-back scores in the first half that pulled the Red Raiders to within relative striking distance for just a moment at 24-10.

Tyner was just 1-5 for two yards to bring his season stats to 1-8 passing for two yards.  That’s two more yards than the backup QB at Cavazos Jr. High has thrown for as a Red Raider this year.

When asked what Tyner can do and what he showed the coaches in order to earn the start, Wells listed a number of qualities that his starter did not exhibit in Norman.

"“Accuracy, putting the ball where it’s supposed to go on time,” he said.  “Maybe more in the passing game that Jett, down-field wise.  Felt that.  Saw that in practice the last couple of weeks.”"

However, the most interesting remarks Wells made came in his next breath.

"“But really they were kinda neck and neck and it’s a decision coach Yost and I made during the week to go with him in the beginning,” he said."

That statement is fascinating because it revealed to us Wells’ nature.  If this was a neck-and-neck decision, Wells and Yost took the cautious approach.  They played it safe by going with the low ceiling, low-risk player rather than the one with the ability to make plays but the propensity to make mistakes.

No one ever upset a team like OU by playing it safe.  That’s a way to just ensure that your team isn’t colossally embarrassed.

But to give his team its best shot at stunning the world, he should have started the player with more ability and who has proven capable of performing well in the Big 12 at times.  If Duffey had started and made a costly mistake early, Tyner could have come in and settled the game down and the outcome likely would have been roughly the same as it was.

dark. Next. 2019 recruiting class has yet to make impact

However, Wells essentially castrated his team before it even left the locker room by starting a QB that has shown nothing in four years of game action to suggest he’s ready to win a Big 12 game.  In the process, he revealed to us that he, like most coaches, is going to lean towards the safe bet rather than the potentially rewarding one.