Full disclosure, I try not to blog when I’m angry. And after Saturday night’s 45-17 pants wetting by the Texas Tech football team at the hands of Baylor, I was fuming.
There’s no other program in the Big 12 that I hate losing to more than Baylor. Part of it is that when I was a student, Baylor was the laughingstock of the conference and I came of age as a Tech fan believing the saying that I once saw on a bumper sticker in Lubbock: I’d rather be on probation than lose to Baylor.
The other part of it is that I can’t handle the fact that karma has allowed anything good to happen to the Bears after all the awful things that have happened in that athletic department over the last 20 years. After the Dave Bliss attempted murder coverup in the basketball program and the Art Briles era sexual assault scandal in the football program, it would just seem that nothing positive should happen for Baylor athletics for at least 50 years.
However, the Bears have had more than their fair share of success across the board in the last handful of years and that continued on Saturday in Lubbock as Dave Aranda’s program simply punished Tech on both sides of the ball. Here are some quick thoughts on what transpired at a subdued and disappointed Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Replace them all
After another horrific showing by the Texas Tech offensive line, I wouldn’t mind if Tech entered next season with five new starters in that position group. In fact, that is likely what has to be the program’s top priority this offseason – replacing as many of the guys up front as possible.
Though QB Behren Morton was off his game (we’ll get to him in a minute), much of his struggles came about because he was under constant pressure from the Baylor defensive line. In fact, before Baylor started dropping eight and rushing only three in the second half to protect their huge lead, it was hard to find a dropback on which Morton was able to get his feet set and survey the field.
Though Morton was bad, his line did him no favors and made his night exponentially more difficult than it needed to be. If you want to prescribe blame for this loss, start with the five players up front.
This performance mirrored what we saw from the Tech o-line in the Houston, NC State, and Kansas State games and is a reminder that this is the worst offensive line that Tech has fielded since I’ve been following this program. Next season, here’s hoping that we see five new faces manning those positions.
Morton comes back down to Earth
Every Texas Tech QB has had an inexplicably awful game in his career. As a sophomore, Graham Harrell was booed off the field after consecutive pick-sixes against Missouri in an awful loss in Lubbock. Pat Mahomes once went just 18-36 with two picks in a 66-10 loss against an Iowa State team that was just 2-8 on the season entering the game.
Saturday night might have been Behren Morton’s toe-stubbing moment. Though his line made his life far more difficult than it should have been, Morton was awful with three picks while completing just 11-34 passes for 154 yards.
All three of Morton’s picks were ill-advised and looked like the type of plays that the typical redshirt freshman would make. And we have to remember that this was just Morton’s third college start.
Still, Morton needs to be QB1 moving forward. He’s the best option Tech has after seeing both Donovan Smith and Tyler Shough in action on Saturday. Smith threw two passes and one was picked, his eighth pick of the year, and though Shough might be cleared to play, he doesn’t look ready to perform at a high level after missing six games with a collarbone injury.
Any reasonable fan had to know that Morton would have a freshman moment and on Saturday, that’s what transpired. Still, the Eastland native is the best option Tech has at this time and Joey McGuire needs to stick with him for the long haul.
While no Texas Tech football fan is surprised when the offensive line struggles, the showing of the defensive line against the Baylor run game was a huge letdown. That was perhaps the biggest surprise of the game.
Outside of the Kansas State game, this year the Red Raiders have been good against the run. But Baylor marched all over the Red Raider front seven in this game racking up 231 yards on the ground.
Also, the line never got any real pressure on Baylor QB Blake Shapen. Tech had only one sack and four QB pressures as the Baylor OL won the night. It was easily a step in the wrong direction for a group that has been a strong point for most of this year.
Saturday night dud
The old belief that Lubbock is a tough place to play at night took a huge hit in this game. Baylor jumped out to a two-score lead in the second quarter and the capacity crowd never had anything to cheer for outside of Patrick Mahomes, who had to feel a bit let down in his return to Jones Stadium.
Now, one has to wonder if this abysmal home performance has erased much of the goodwill that the program had garnered with the home faithful after starting the season 4-0 at home. The next home game is against Kansas, which still won’t bring about a sellout crowd despite being an improved team and after that, the last home game is against OU on the Saturday after Thanksgiving when most of the students will be gone.
Thus, it is fair to suggest that Tech wasted its best home opportunity to showcase the program to the local populace. It was yet another home dud of a performance for a program that has over the past decade consistently spit the bit at home against opponents that matter.