Texas Tech football: For this flawed team to win, Jett Duffey has to be perfect

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Jett Duffey #7 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders passes the ball during the second half of the college football game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 16, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Jett Duffey #7 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders passes the ball during the second half of the college football game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 16, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

Despite a fantastic game from QB Jett Duffey, the Texas Tech football team lost to TCU on Saturday illustrating just how perfect the junior has to be in order for his team to win.

In Saturday’s 33-31 loss to TCU, there was really only one reason the Texas Tech football team was able to make the contest interesting after falling behind 17-0 and 24-3 in the first half…Jett Duffey. The junior QB was as good as anyone could ask their Qb to be and still it wasn’t enough.

For the game, Duffey was 19-33 for 333 yards and 4 touchdown passes.  He also ran for a team-high 42 yards on 9 attempts.  Thus, he accounted for 375 of the team’s 402 total yards.  It’s hard to remember a Tech QB not named Pat Mahomes being asked to do so much for his team.

No player on the team this year has done more to elevate his standing in the minds of Red Raider fans and, more importantly, his coaches and teammates.  He’s been without question the best offensive player on this roster and he’s carried the load despite being surrounded by a supporting cast that is more devoid of star power and game-breaking explosiveness than any in the modern era of the program.

Still, Duffey hasn’t been quite good enough to lift his team to wins on a consistent basis.  It’s not his fault.  The problem is that because of how flawed this team is, the Red Raiders need Duffey to be flawless in order to win.

That’s what he’s been in Tech’s two Big 12 victories.  Against Oklahoma State and West Virginia, he was a combined 50-78 (64.1%) with 757 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.  He averaged an incredible 15.1 yards per completion in those two games as Tech put up an average of 41.5 points per game.

But when he’s made even just a couple of in-game mistakes, his team hasn’t been good enough to return the favor and pick up him.  In fact, if you look at every loss he’s had as the starting QB, you will find at least one moment that proved to be costly and the Red Raiders couldn’t overcome the fact that Duffey wasn’t perfect.

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In Waco, Duffey threw for 362 yards and a touchdown but he had two interceptions, including one at the Baylor 21-yard-line in the second half.   Still, he did enough to give his team a 3-point lead in the final minute of play.  But the defense allowed Baylor to drive from its own 1-yard-line to the Tech 5 in the final 90 seconds before kicking the game-tying field goal.

Baylor’s defense is good, one of the best in the Big 12.  So Duffey’s two picks, one of which was deflected by his receiver, were fare from criminal.  It happens to every QB at some point.  Still, he had his team in position to win but the defense let him down.

It’s fair to say that had Tech scored even just a field goal on one of the two drives that ended with his interceptions, the Red Raiders would have won.  But they should have won anyway.  They shouldn’t have even had to go to overtime, where the Big 12 referees’ incompetence cost them the win.  But in a game in which Duffey wasn’t flawless, the rest of the team, specifically the defense, couldn’t pick up the slack and the result was a frustrating loss.

A week later, the defense was not able to give Duffey and the offense some support during a slow start against the team thought to have the best defense in the Big 12, Iowa State.  As the Tech offense sputtered in the first  half, the Defense was being torched and the Red Raiders found themselves down 20-0 in the middle of the second quarter.

Duffey was 3-4 passing on the first Tech drive.  The lone incompletion was a 3rd down drop by McLane Mannix.  Not Duffey’s fault, that ball hit his target right in the hands. On the next three drives, all ending in punts, Duffey was 5-7 passing but penalties and mistakes prevented Tech from getting on the scoreboard.

To say that the Tech QB was at his best against the Cyclones would be inaccurate.  He finished the game with only 239 passing yards despite completing 40-52 attempts.  That average of just 5.9 yards per completion was more a product of the game plan than Duffey’s ineffectiveness but he missed some opportunities.

But knowing that the offense might struggle against the best defense in the conference, Tech’s defense needed to pick up the slack and it didn’t.  Instead, the Red Raiders allowed the Cyclones to rack up 560 yards and score touchdowns of 24, 17, and 30 yards.

The same was true at Kansas.  In the 37-34 Tech loss, Duffey and the offense jumped out to a 17-0 lead but the defense was ridiculously bad and gave up four touchdown plays of 30 yards or more.


That night, Duffey was 24-34 for 271 yards and three scores with no interceptions.  Again, those numbers are not perfect but should be good enough to beat Kansas.  But as it turned out, Duffey needed to be the next coming of Graham Harrell in Lawrence because the defense was the second coming of the Cavazos Jr. High defense.

That takes us to Saturday when two misfires by Duffey proved to be too much for this team to overcome.  On Tech’s first drive, Duffey was late on a throw to Erik Ezukanma, who tipped the ball allowing it to be picked off.  On the next possession, Duffey couldn’t hit a wide-open Dalton Rigdon in stride for what would have been an easy TD.  Instead, Rigdon had to make a diving catch and three plays later, Tech would have to punt.

Had Duffey made those plays, Tech likely would have won.  Of course, had any number of players made plays, (Adrian Frye’s tipped pass that he should have picked off, Trey Wolff missing an extra point, McLane Mannix not fumbling) Tech would have won as well.

The problem is that Duffey is going into these games having to carry his team almost by himself.  With no T.J. Vasher or Dalton Rigdon (in the second half) and two hobbled running backs in Ta’Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson, Duffey was somehow able to carry his team back into the TCU game.

Never was that more evident than on the 3rd-quarter sequence when he had to scramble out of trouble by avoiding the entire TCU front seven to pick up 14 yards and then on the next play, he dropped a perfect dime to R.J. Turner to put Tech up for the first time in the game. But because he wasn’t absolutely perfect, this team couldn’t pick up the slack.

Next. Why the Red Raiders lost to TCU. dark

It’s something we saw happen over and over again to Pat Mahomes during his time at Tech and now it’s what Duffey faces on a weekly basis.  It’s sad and frustrating to see that once again, this program is wasting a really strong year from a QB, and the best we could have ever asked for from a third-string QB, because the rest of the roster is fatally flawed at nearly every other position.