The special teams have been a liability
You could argue that the Texas Tech special teams have been the worst part of this year’s squad. In fact, outside of Trey Wolff’s clutch 47-yard field goal to tie the game against Houston at the end of regulation, Tech has been truly bad in the kicking game.
Against NC State, it was the punting and punt return game that led to disaster. Drew Hocutt’s muff of the Wolfpack’s first punt and Austin McNamara’s 29-yard punt on Tech’s second possession led directly to six NC State points. In a game that was decided by 13 points, that’s a significant difference.
This came a game after Tech was lucky that the special teams didn’t cost them a win over Houston. Remember that the Cougars had a punt return TD nullified by a roughing the punter penalty in the first quarter of that game. But also don’t forget that later in the game, Tech would surrender a 35-yard punt return, a play that would set up Houston at the Tech 19 and lead to the Cougar’s first field goal of the game.
Meanwhile, The Tech return game has been non-existent as well. The punt returners either aren’t fielding punts thus allowing the opposition to down the ball deep in Tech territory or they are going nowhere when they try to return them as Tech is averaging just 4.4 yards per punt return on the year.
Even McNamara, who entered the year as one of the nation’s top punters, has seen his punting average drop by five yards per kick from last year. While that can be somewhat attributed to situational punting, the fact is that he isn’t flipping the field the way he has in the past.
With an offense that is struggling as much as the Red Raiders’ offense is, the kicking game could be an area where Tech makes up some of the difference. But instead, it’s been a near disaster thus far and that’s an area where the Red Raiders must get better.