A 14-0 start by the Red Raiders set up perfectly for clinching a bowl berth. And then a Texas Tech collapse struck yet again. A 25-24 heartbreaking loss to Kansas State sent Red Raider fans home (the handful that came) with an all too familiar feeling during the Matt Wells era.
Fastest Start Of The Season
The 2021 Texas Tech Red Raiders have had a terrible habit of getting off to slow starts all season. They have displayed the ability to bounce back against lesser competition, but today was different. Before Kansas State even took the field, the Red Raiders had already found the endzone two times. This was exactly the type of start needed to help get Kansas State out of its normal game script on offense.
Kansas State did eventually answer. But Texas Tech, looking like a team hungry to secure this 6th victory put together a great answer of its own and pushed the score to 21-7. The Red Raiders were able to take a 24-10 lead into the half. Deuce Vaughn had mainly been held in check. The defense was demonstrating some ability to control the line of scrimmage. This is what fans had been hoping for in hopes of confirming true growth in the program.
Second Half Catastrophe
Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein
Just when the Red Raiders faithful felt like they were ready to believe in this team, after forcing Kansas State to punt to open the second half, the wheels started to fall off by surrendering a safety the very next play. How bad did it get from there? The offense could only mustard up 103 yards of offense. Only 41 yards of that was through the air. They had 40 yards of penalties in the 2nd half. The defense from the first half must have stayed in the locker room because they allowed 220 yards of total offense to the Wildcats. All of this cumulated with zero points scored.
If all of that was not bad enough, it’s time to talk about allowing a first down on 3rd and 34. With 11:43 remaining in the game and Texas Tech clinging to a 24-19 lead, the defense had risen up and put Kansas State way behind the chains. It was 3rd and 34 on the Kansas State 22 yard line. Wildcat quarterback Skylar Thompson completed what appeared to be a meaningless 15-yard completion. But a bright yellow flag lay in the Wildcat backfield. A personal foul against the Texas Tech defense gave the Wildcats a second chance.
Deuce Got Loose
Kansas State would eventually score the eventual winning touchdown with 6:09 left in the game. It would be Vaughn’s third touchdown of the game. In what seemed to be an appropriate ending for the day, Texas Tech took the ensuing kickoff down the field, and with under two minutes remaining, Texas Tech had the ball on the Kansas State 42 yard line on 2nd and 6. A negative run play, a blown blitz pick up quickly turned it into 4th and 16. Henry Colombi would eventually be sacked to put the final touches on this Texas Tech collapse.
Where Does The Team Go After This Texas Tech Collapse?
Scoring zero points in the second half of a game where the Red Raiders were up 24-10, at home, with a chance to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2017, is simply unacceptable. The offense has too much talent at the skill position to go MIA. It is the second game in which offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie forgot where his best offensive player, Erik Ezukanma, was on the field. And while the team did run for 170 yards, completing only 10 passes simply isn’t good enough.
Found this surprising in the Texas Tech game notes:
Today was the first time since 1999 (v. Oklahoma) that Texas Tech completed 10 or fewer passes in a game.
— Ryan Mainville (@RMainvilleLBK) October 23, 2021
The defense ultimately could not key in on the best offensive player the Wildcats had on the field. The lack of pressure generated by the defensive front puts the secondary in unfair positions having to cover receivers for extended periods of time. Both the offense and defense continue to make errors or fall flat at the biggest moments in games. Wells is 6-7 in one-possession games in 3+ seasons. Three of those wins came against Houston Baptist, Stephen F. Austin, Kansas.
Newest Gut Punching Defeat Feels Low Even For Wells’ Standard
Wells has had multiple moments in less than four years that have left fans disappointed and deflated. Attempting a field goal on 2nd down, blowing a 15 points lead (at home) with four minutes left in the game against Texas, and conceding over 50 points in six losses. This second half Texas Tech collapse against Kansas State feels like a new low in the Wells era. With Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Baylor remaining on the schedule, this is a team that is staring at a 5-7 season after starting 5-2. The pressure mounting on Wells is reaching critical mass. Barring an unforeseen turnaround, it appears Wells will not be around to have an office at the new Womble Football center.