Texas Tech football: OC David Yost not getting enough credit for 2019

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) /

Though many Texas Tech football fans were not pleased with the job offensive coordinator David Yost did in 2019, the reality is that he was able to produce a very good offense despite some huge issues on the roster.

Every football fan considers himself an offensive coordinator in the making.  All we need is a shot at a Power 5 school and our years of playing Madden and NCAA Football on the PlayStation will finally pay off big time.  Texas Tech football fans are no different in that regard.

That’s why outside of the head coach Matt Wells, no one in Lubbock was more criticized this fall than offensive coordinator David Yost.  It didn’t help that when he was hired, the former Missouri and Utah State OC was billed by the media and football insiders as an offensive genius in the same class as Mike Leach, Lincoln Riley, Kliff Kingsbury, and Sean McVay.

Thus, when the Red Raider offense didn’t look like the Kansas City Chiefs this year, fans were quick to accuse Yost of not knowing what he was doing and being a fraud while proclaiming that he needed to be replaced.  But those who felt like Tech’s OC was a disappointment this year aren’t likely looking at the big picture and are also letting their feelings about Wells influence their thoughts about Yost.

Let’s look at the overall numbers for the offense.  The Red Raiders finished this year 11th in total offense nationally at 474.3 yards per game and 7th nationally in passing yards at 324.7 yards per game.  Those are the two numbers that Red Raider children of the “Air Raid” era look to first when judging the offense in Lubbock.

Stop to consider that those numbers in both categories are almost exactly where the 2018 offense was ranked last year under Kingsbury’s guidance.  A year ago, the Red Raiders were 12th nationally in total offense and 3rd in passing.

In the end, both Kingsbury and Yost had to start three different quarterbacks in each of the last two years with Jett Duffey playing way more than either coach intended.  The difference came out to be 11 yards per game, with Kingsbury’s offense having a slight advantage.

The only major difference came in the scoring difference.  Yost’s offense put up 30.1 points per game (55th nationally), while Kingsbury’s 2018 group scored 37.3 (16th nationally).  But stop to consider why the difference existed.

Essentially, Kingsbury had the advantage of having his starting QB in place for seven games as opposed to just three this year as was the case for Yost.  Kingsbury also had 1,400-yard receiver Antoine Wesley, one of the best big-play receivers in the nation last year.

Meanwhile, Yost had to work with the worst receiving corps Tech has fielded in the last 20 years.  There just was not any big-play threat on this receiving corp outside of Dalton Rigdon, a former walk-on.  That’s going to make it harder for a team to score because instead of having tons of huge scoring plays of 40-plus yards, points are going to have to come as the result of sustained drives.

Ultimately, Tech struggled to get touchdowns in red-zone situations and that’s where the offense left points on the field.  Had Antoine Wesley been back for his senior year, imagine how much better this year’s offense would have looked thanks to his ability to stretch the defense.

But to fully appreciate the work Yost did, we have to look at the season Jett Duffey had.  That’s because Yost got more out of the junior this year than anyone thought was possible.

In his 8 starts, Duffey averaged 364 yards of offense per game while totaling 19 touchdowns and committing a total of just six turnovers (5 picks).  Under Yost’s guidance, Duffey went three full Big 12 games without turning the ball over.

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That’s something that Pat Mahomes, Gramahm Harrell, nor Kliff Kingsbury can say.  Jett…freaking…Duffey, a turnover machine in 2018, was able to go three conference games without giving the ball away.

A year ago, in his three starts, he averaged 313 total yards per game and he accounted for six touchdowns and four turnovers.  What’s more, he had a back-breaking pick-six to seal the loss to West Virginia.

Under Kingsbury, Duffey was a huge reason Tech lost to West Virginia, Texas, and Kansas State.  This year, it’s hard to point to one game in which he was a reason the Red Raiders didn’t win.  Every game he played was solid at worst and he almost always played well enough to give his team a shot to win.

In other words, Yost milked as much out of Duffey as any coach could.  But the QB spot wasn’t the only place Yost had to overcome challenges.

Keep in mind that Tech lost senior RB Armand Shyne in the Kansas game giving the team only two scholarship running backs in the final four games.  What’s more, both Ta’Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson were banged up for the entire month of November and yet, Tech managed to survive offensively thanks to the way Yost shuffled the cards he had been dealt.

Most fans seemed to turn on Yost after the Iowa State game because they didn’t’ like the fact that he called 16 wide receiver screens in the 34-24 loss.  But they didn’t stop to look at the fact that those 16 plays netted an average of 5.1 yards per play.

Had Tech run the ball 16 times in a game for an average of 5.1 yards, we would all have been asking why we didn’t run it more.  So it is tough to understand why all the angst over that strategy against the best defense in the Big 12, one that thrives on baiting QBs into bad decisions when throwing the ball over the middle of the field.

Instead of putting Duffey into dangerous situations, Yost simply asked his QB to do what was easiest and that’s not a bad plan.  The reason Tech lost the Iowa State game was Keith Patterson’s defense, which allowed at least five plays of over 40 yards.

In fact, it was Patterson’s wretched defense that was Tech’s biggest problem this fall.  The Red Raiders finished just 126th nationally in total defense despite the fact that three of the five best players on the roster (Jordyn Brooks, Douglas Coleman, and Broderick Washington) were found on that side of the ball.  Yet, there was not nearly as much outrage over Patterson’s moronic scheme.  Is that because we have all just come to accept bad defense as our fate in life.

Was David Yost perfect in 2019?  No.  But does the avalanche of complaints about his performance make sense?  Hardly.  Though the social media response to the thought that Yost was actually pretty good this year will elicit some harsh critiques of my intelligence, I’m comfortable heading into 2020 with him at the helm of the Red Raider offense.

If Tech were to have the same type of production next year that it got this year but with a defense merely in the top 100, a bowl game will be almost certain.  And expecting this offense to take a step forward in the second year in Yosts system is reasonable.  What isn’t reasonable is to proclaim that Tech’s offensive coordinator was a buffoon in 2019.  After all, not everyone can coordinate an offense as legendary as the one that fans have created on their Madden dynasties.