The Texas Tech football team is struggling in a number of statistical areas in which we didn’t think things could get much worse after last year.
The second year of a coaching staff’s tenure is always expected to be a year of significant improvement. It’s when the coach has had enough time to fully implement his systems and when the players should have grown comfortable with what is expected of them. But of course, that’s not proving to be the case for the 2020 Texas Tech football team.
Fans certainly expected better than a 1-3 start from this year’s Red Raiders. That’s because, in recent years, other programs on campus have made massive strides in the second year of a head coach’s tenure.
For instance, in Chris Beard’s second season (2017-18) as head coach of the men’s basketball program, he led his team to the Elite 8 for the first time in school history. Going 27-10 that year, Beard saw his team improve its win total from the previous year by nine games.
Likewise, baseball coach Tim Tadlock made history in his second season. After a 26-30 year in 2013, he took his team to the College World Series in 2014, the program’s first-ever trip to Omaha.
But perhaps it is simply more difficult to turn around a football program in such short order. In fact, when we look at the history of Texas Tech football, it is rather rare for a coach to make huge strides in his second year.
One example is Mike Leach, who led his team to a 7-5 record in 2001, which was only slightly better than the 7-6 record the program had in 2000. But though that improvement was incremental, it still marked one of the few instances in the modern era of the program in which a coach has improved upon his debut season’s win total in year two. Rather, it’s been more common for the program to regress in a coach’s second season.
After going 8-5 in 2013 to earn Kliff Kingsbury a lucrative contract extension after his debut season, the Red Raiders would manage just a 4-8 record in 2014. That year, injuries played a major role in the poor showing as did the lack of improvement from sophomore QB Davis Webb.
His predecessor, Tommy Tuberville, also had a losing second season. After also going 8-5 in his debut (2010), Tuberville managed just a 5-7 mark the next year. That marked the first losing season for the program since 1992.
Speaking of the 1990s, that was the era of Spike Dykes. But even that legendary figure in program history couldn’t shake the second-season blues.
After a decent 6-4-1 season in 1987, Dykes’ team managed to go just 5-6 in 1988. Interestingly, that season the Red Raiders went 1-4 to open the year, which is what this year’s team will be if it can’t beat West Virginia next Saturday in Lubbock.
No one was asking Matt Wells to have the type of dynamite success that Beard and Tadlock had in year two but we were expecting improvement. But what’s been the most frustrating about this year is that the 2020 team is not showing many signs of progress, even in areas where we thought it couldn’t be much worse than what we saw a year ago.
So let’s take a look at areas where Texas Tech has taken surprising steps backward through four games. And we will start with the area of the game that has been this program’s kryptonite for quite some time.