Anyone who watched Texas Tech football over the past two seasons could easily see that this program's biggest flaw was its offensive line. Therefore, the departure of offensive line coach Stephen Hamby, news that was reported by numerous sources on Monday, including Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, was something to be embraced, if not welcomed.
Hamby arrived in the offseason after the 2021 campaign returning to his alma mater to join Joey McGuire's initial coaching staff. Prior to that, he had spent time as a graduate assistant with the REd Raiders (2013-15) and as an assistant coach at Bowling Green (2016-18) and Western Kentucky (2018-2021).
It was with the Hilltoppers that he coached the offensive line under current Texas Tech offensive coordinator, Zach Kittley, in 2021. Then, he followed Kittley to Tech to coach under McGuire.
However, the results along the offensive line haven't been what the Red Raiders had hoped for, especially when it comes to pass protection. In 2022, Tech ranked 111th nationally and last in the Big 12 in sacks allowed per game at 3.5.
This year, the Red Raiders were much better in that regard, but there is a catch. Tech did rise to No. 51 nationally and 9th in the Big 12 in sacks allowed at 1.85 per game.
However, that was due not so much to the improvement of the offensive line but rather to the fact that 2023 saw Tech's offense revolve not around the pass but around Tahj Brooks and the offensive line. Consider that Tech threw the ball 570 times in 2022 and only 479 times in 2023 and it is easy to see why the number of sacks per game decreased drastically.
Where Hamby also came up short was with the players he brought into the program, specifically from his previous stop. In 2022, Hamby recruited transfer guard Cole Spencer and in 2023 he did the same with transfer center Rusty Staats, both of whom played for him at WKU.
The problem was that neither lived up the the billing and each struggled against Big 12 players. Spencer would play in only six games as a Red Raider. That included missing all of the 2022 season due to injury.
Meanwhile, Staats also didn't prove to be an upgrade at center. In fact, halfway through the year, he was moved to right guard. Though some of that move was due to the fact that his injured right shoulder made it hard for him to snap the football, some of it was also because former walk-on Dennis Wilburn was simply a better option to man that spot.
The fact is, neither of these two players with ties to Hamby were able to elevate the Red Raider offensive line. Neither were the rest of the players he coached.
Now, with the Red Raiders bringing in four new starters on the line, it made perfect sense to start over with a new coach. When Hamby's offensive line went up against elite defensive fronts like Texas', it was laughable how bad of a mismatch it was for the opponent. Thus, a change was needed and now, it appears that is what the Red Raiders will get.