Gut-Shot and Bunker Mode

Gut-Shot and Bunker Mode

Joe Yeager gives his initial reaction to the loss to the Longhorns on Saturday.

Bunker Mode: This was no ordinary loss. Long before the usual media suspects had time to assemble, a disheveled looking Tommy Tuberville gave a brief and hasty statement before a handful of early arrivals (including yours truly), took a few questions and then bolted. Seth Doege, with tears in his eyes, was trotted in to face the music. Will Smith spoke tersely for the defense. Neither Art Kaufman nor Neil Brown made an appearance. Texas Tech football is now in bunker mode.

 

Gut-Shot: Expectations for a smashing win over hated Texas were sky high. Red Raider luminaries such as Michael Crabtree were prominent, and the Longhorn killer himself led the pregame Red Raider walk. The entire program was pointing to this game. It was circled in red.

 

But instead of a thrilling victory, a record throng was treated to a comedy of errors and a desolating loss. Nothing hurts worse than expected gratification denied. Many of those in attendance and scattered across the Tech football solar system will now besiege the coaching staff. And the coaches know it. This program is taking on water and could go under. It was a defeat that could damage the program's infrastructure. It was that bad.

 

Opportunity Squandered: Rarely does Texas Tech go into a football game with the University of Texas feeling like it has the advantage. Believing it has the better team. Not often do the Red Raiders face the Longhorns with Las Vegas backing the scarlet and black. And on those rare occasions when you've got a chance to stomp on the University of Texas you had better do it because the opportunity may not come again for a very long time. But Texas Tech spit the bit when the odds were squarely with them. And that is what makes this loss a difficult one to forget. Or forgive.

 

Special Teams Do in the Red Raiders: One can point to any number of errors and bad plays that severely hurt Tech. Perhaps none were worse, however, than a special teams screw up in the fourth quarter.

 

The Red Raiders had come roaring back in the third quarter to pull within two points of the Longhorns. But after a three-and-out early in the fourth, Ryan Erxleben was forced to punt. He nailed a beauty which should have pinned Texas on its own 11.

 

But hold on. Out came a flag. Daniel Cobb interfered with the Texas return man, so instead of starting the drive in the shadow of their own goalpost, the Longhorns had tremendous field position at the 41. Several plays later they cashed in with a touchdown and Tech was done for. For the second week in a row, special teams have seriously compromised Tech's efforts.

 

A Very Weird Call: Tech's coaching staff will doubtless come under fire for all manner of strange calls in this one, but perhaps the weirdest of them all came late in the second quarter. Texas, leading by eight points, lined up to attempt a 42-yard field goal with 1:14 left in the half. Texas Tech, bizarrely enough, called a time out to ice the kicker. Very obviously, this was a time out the Red Raiders would need on their next drive, yet Tommy Tuberville decided to burn it for an entirely unproved purpose. Has it ever been determined that "icing" a kicker actually works? No. But it is a cast iron fact that time outs make the difference between scoring and coming up empty when you possess the ball. Perplexing, to say the least.

 

Failure in Big Games: The modern Red Raiders are cultivating a tradition of failure on the big stage. And the "big stage" is a suitable proxy for big games. Specifically, Tech has now lost before the seven largest crowds in Jones Stadium history. Those losses were to Texas and Oklahoma in 2012, Texas and Oklahoma State in 2010, Iowa State and Texas A&M in 2011, and Texas A&M in 2009.

 

This is not the way to build fan support. On the contrary, it's a surefire way to kill it off.