Texas Tech football: Rapid Reactions to Red Raiders 38-30 loss to Oregon

Texas Tech's head coach Joey McGuire, left, and Oregon's head coach Dan Lanning shake hands after the non-conference, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Texas Tech's head coach Joey McGuire, left, and Oregon's head coach Dan Lanning shake hands after the non-conference, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium. /

The Texas Tech football team fell to 0-2 on the season Saturday night thanks to a heartbreaking 38-30 loss to Oregon at home.  The Red Raiders had the ball and were driving to win the game in the final minute until the Oregon pass rush obliterated Tyler Shough causing him to almost involuntarily throw a game-ending pick-six.  Here are some rapid reactions to what we saw in this gut-wrenching game.

This loss is on Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire

There is no way to sugarcoat this.  Joey McGuire’s poor decision-making cost his team this game.  Plain and simple.  His head-scratching decision to attempt a two-point conversion in the first quarter and match the two-point conversion Oregon successfully completed on the previous drive would prove to be the difference.

You don’t go for two points until the game dictates that you have to.  McGuire took an unnecessary risk and it left his team trailing by a point in the final minute.  Had the game been tied on that last drive, Tech would have approached that situation in a completely different way and likely not left Shough unprotected in an empty backfield.

What’s more, because they had the lead, Oregon could pin their ears back and come after Shough with reckless abandon.  That wouldn’t have happened in a tie game.

Also, McGuire’s 4th-down gamble to go for it on 4th down from inside his own 35 was simply moronic.  I don’t care that the defense had just been on the field for 17 plays.   You punt there every time.  Instead, he gifted Oregon three points.  Ballgame.

Texas Tech won’t pull upsets by losing the turnover battle

Technically, Tech lost the turnover battle 4-0 thanks the the last-second heave that was picked off.  In reality, the turnover battle was 3-0 in favor of the Ducks though.

Still, this Red Raider program is not at a place talent-wise to beat a top-15 team when losing the turnover battle that decisively.  Much of the blame here lies at Shough’s feet.

The pick-six at the end of the game was not his fault.  That one was on the O-line.

However, the two previous turnovers simply can’t happen.  Shough must take better care of the ball and stop trying to do too much.  You aren’t Pat Mahomes.  Stop trying to make magic out of thin air.  That was the case on the devastating fumble he gave up late in the second quarter when Tech was driving to take the lead.   Take the sack and move on.

His third-quarter pick looked like a poor throw to me.  Jerand Bradley broke to the outside before Shough threw the ball.  It looked like Shough might have thrown to a spot where he expected Bradley to be instead of throwing to where the player was.  That’s likely on both players for not being on the same page but Shough bears the ultimate responsibility because he is the one who threw the ball.

Oh, and by the way, Texas Tech defense…you are allowed to take the ball away.  It’s within the rules.

The Dunlap call was probably the right call, though Texas Tech fans won’t want to hear that

I’m going to take shrapnel for his opinion but I thought I saw the ball move in Malik Dunlap’s hands as he rolled on the ground after what looked like a remarkable interception in the endzone in the fourth quarter.

It was a stellar play from the senior corner but I don’t think he secured the ball all the way through the play.  Maybe the officials had a better view than the one we got on TV?  Who knows?  FOX only showed us a couple of angles and nothing definitive.

Many Texas Tech fans are going to point to that call as the turning point in the game.  If you are angry about it, I don’t blame you.  It could have gone either way. However, I don’t think that particular call was egregious enough to riot down Broadway over.

In some ways, this Texas Tech loss is a bit hard to conceive

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Tech out-rushed Oregon by 61 yards and still lost.  I also can’t wrap my head around the fact that the Ducks had 59 more penalty yards assessed and still won.

The difference was the pass rush…Texas Tech had none

If this game doesn’t lie solely at McGuire’s feet, then it also lands at the feet of the non-existent Texas Tech pass rush.  Bo Nix threw the ball 44 times and was sacked only once, in the first quarter.  What’s more, he was hardly even pressured.  That allowed him to let his fast receivers and backs run to open space against a slower Red Raider defense.  Nix had all day all night.

Meanwhile, Shough was sacked four times.  When he wasn’t sacked, he usually was forced to move off of his spot and make a throw on the run (which he struggles to do) or scramble for yards.  This Texas Tech offensive line might be a touch better than it was last year but it still isn’t good enough to beat a team like Oregon.

Monroe Mills was assessed three penalties and was beaten several times and center Rusty Staats was whipped on the game-deciding pick-six. (Go watch the replay if you can.  It looks like Staats just lets his man have a free run at Shough.)  Tech must get better play from the line than it has received in the first two games.

Texas Tech redshirt freshman Ben Roberts was excellent

Take a bow, Ben Roberts.  You played a hell of a game in your first career start.  Tied for the team lead with 12 tackles on the night, the redshirt freshman was more than solid.  He was noticeable and impactful.  That’s good news for a defense that is now rather beat up around him.

Texas Tech needs better athletes across the board

Oregon has been recruiting in a different universe than Texas Tech for years and on Saturday, that showed.  The Ducks simply had more team speed, more physicality, and more overall juice than Tech on both sides of the ball.

There weren’t many plays where Tech was running away from the Ducks.  But plenty of times, an Oregon player took something small and made it into something substantial by running past and around Red Raiders.

Tech had to try to rely on scheme and execution and it almost worked.  Oregon relied on talent and athleticism and that gave them a bigger margin for error, a margin that was just big enough to come away with a win.

It is a reminder that McGuire needs to continue to churn this roster and add athleticism and speed across the board.  That was a focus of the 2023 recruiting class but it will take time and more recruiting cycles before he can get his roster to be on par with Oregon’s.