Turnover Story: When the fingers are pointed at Texas Tech's loss to Baylor, they will doubtless zero in on the Red Raiders' four turnovers. And that is as it should be. Those turnovers flipped the game Baylor's way. But there is another turnover story within that story, and it is a woeful tale that has woven its way through Tech's entire Big 12 saga.
Coming to the point, the Red Raider defense didn't force a single turnover against the Bears. The Baylor center's snaps looked like guided missiles whose homing mechanism had been fried, but there was nary a Red Raider around to corral one. Nick Florence had a ball or two tipped, but no Tech defender was in the vicinity to snare it. Heck, he dribbled on ball in the backfield like Curley Neal and ran it into the end zone!
Compare that dismal absence of opportunism to the ball-hawking Baylor defense, which was always well placed to pick off Seth Doege's caroms and you'll see the difference between a defense that gives you a chance to win and one that does not.
Sadly, the inability to generate turnovers was hardly confined to the Baylor loss. In point of fact, the Red Raiders have now gone 21 straight quarters and six overtime periods without getting a turnover. Cody Davis' third-quarter pick against TCU's freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin was Tech's last turnover. Indeed, in Tech's nine Big 12 games, the defense has caused a mere eight turnovers. A really good defense can get eight TOs in two games.
Stopping Big 12 offenses is extremely difficult. It is practically impossible if you don't get two or three turnovers per game. The Red Raiders haven't even come close. So if you're looking for a single good explanation for why this team has collapsed down the stretch, look no further than the defense's failure to create turnovers.
It All Started with Special Teams: As has so often been the case, Texas Tech's demise began with a seemingly innocuous special teams blunder. Hence, the Red Raider offense and defense got off to hot starts, scoring two touchdowns and holding the potent Bears scoreless.
The Red Raiders looked reborn. They looked like they might be able to knock Baylor our early. Instead, they punched themselves in the nether regions.
Kramer Fyfe lofted a short kickoff to the sixteen yardline, and the Bear return man, meeting no Tech resistance, scooted out to the 46.
You don't give Baylor's offense a short field. You don't give a Big 12 opponent life. But that's what Tech's special teams did. And predictably as all get out, the Bears marched downfield for their first touchdown. Tech's defense wasn't the same the rest of the day.
Opportunities Missed: Despite the short field, which practically gifted Baylor a touchdown, later in the half the Red Raiders had an opportunity to perhaps put the Bears away. Leading 21-7, Tech was in possession of the pill and threatening to put Baylor three scores down. But Seth Doege got greedy. On 1st-and-10 from the Bear 44, he heaved the ball deep downfield into double coverage toward a receiver who wasn't remotely open. The Bears got their first of three oskies, and Tech's first chance at polishing Baylor off was by the boards.
The second came on Tech's next possession. Following a tremendous goal line stand, the Red Raiders took over possession at their own five and marched to the Bear seven where Doege fumbled and Baylor recovered. Doege simultaneously wasted a goal line stand and squandered a platinum chance to bury the Bears. Oh, the humanity.
2nd-and-short: I've always thought the stupidest play call in all of football is getting fancy and/or greedy on 2nd-and-short. First downs are vital, and even on 2nd-and-short they're no sure thing. But offensive coordinators have always been in love with taking their shots on this down and distance. Neal Brown did this in the fourth quarter with disastrous results.
The Red Raiders had a 2nd-and-one at the Baylor 43, but rather than run the rock between Deveric Gallington and Le'Raven Clark, where Tech had had huge success all day, Brown elected to throw the bubble screen to Darrin Moore who promptly lost two yards. Then, on 3rd-and-three, much more of a passing down, Doege lobbed the pick six that gave Baylor their first lead. It's enough to drive a man to drink.
RG III: If I never again hear that moniker it will still be way too bloody soon. Do boob toob media really think this is cool, clever or cute? Call the man by his real name.
Game Ball to Texas Farm Bureau: Some politically correct poofters—and I know not exactly whom—trampled all over tradition and made galloping fools of themselves by rebranding the Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma the Red River Rivalry. Idiots. So full credit to Texas Farm Bureau insurance, the sponsor of the game between Tech and Baylor, for christening this game the Texas Farm Bureau Shootout. That alone is sufficient reason for continuing to play this game in Dallas. Hell, I might just call up the good folks at TFB so as to up the coverage on my palace.
The Name Blame: Justin Kutcher, Fox's play-by-play man, got on my bad side by pronouncing Zouzalik, ZOO-zuh-lick. But to be fair, that's a name that even flummoxed Brent Musburger. Far worse was Kutcher repeatedly pronouncing Baylor running back Glasco Martin's last name Marden. What the heck? Does the guy have a broken tongue as well as a busted wrist?