You Are What You Are

You Are What You Are

Judging first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury after just one season would be foolish, but the results during the five-game losing steak have been ugly.

College football is inherently unpredictable, which is one very good reason not to bet money on it. But Texas Tech's 41-16 loss to the University of Texas was as predictable as it gets.

First, Texas Tech simply does not beat Texas, particularly in Austin. The last Red Raider win there came in 1997, and wins in Austin before 1997 were few and far between.

Second, Texas Tech doesn't win in November. It's a simple, painful and ugly fact. Over the last three Novembers, Red Raider football has gone 1-11, and that one victory was an overtime struggle over perennial patsy Kansas.

Third, Texas Tech doesn't stop the run. This fact is as obvious as can be. It is almost a surprise when a team doesn't rush for at least 200 yards against Tech, and it has not been uncommon to see two opposing backs each rush for over 100 yards in a single game. Well the Longhorns did all that in spades. They rushed for 281 yards; Malcolm Brown accounted for 128 of them, Joe Bergeron 104.

Fourth, the Red Raiders are going to be one of the sloppiest, most undisciplined teams in college football on any given weekend, or Thanksgiving Day as the case may be. Tech entered the game with Texas ranked No. 122 in penalty yardage per game, and No. 118 in penalties per game. Their performance against the Longhorns will only deepen that misery index.

The Red Raiders committed 11 penalties for 100 yards. The farce began on the game's very first play when a Jace Amaro holding penalty negated a very good kickoff return by Reginald Davis, and it snowballed the entire evening. And most of the penalties were stupid personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct infractions. It was a sorry, embarrassing display.

Fifth, Texas Tech will lose the turnover battle. Prior to the pounding in Austin, Tech was ranked No. 123 nationally, ahead of only California and Southern Mississippi in turnover margin, with a -1.09 mark. And right on schedule, the Red Raiders lose this stat to the Longhorns three to two.

Kliff Kingsbury is only in his first season as a head coach. Nobody in his right mind would judge Kingsbury based upon this season. The Red Raiders finish the season 7-5, which is right about where most people thought they would. But let's not mince words about the size of the task facing Kingsbury as he attempts to build the Tech program into something more than a mediocrity. It is huge.

To begin with, Kingsbury simply has to drastically elevate the talent on the defensive side of the football. Tech doesn't have the hosses, let alone the depth on that side of the ball to compete with the better offenses in the Big 12. And the problem is building that talent won't happen overnight. It will take time.

Next, Kingsbury has to spit and polish this program. For the last several years the Red Raiders have been loose and sloppy. If they're not committing penalties, they're committing turnovers. If Kingsbury has to become grim and nasty with his players to get them to perform like major college players on scholarship rather than junior high school kids just learning the game, so be it. Sound, fundamental football may not be sexy, but it wins football games, and that is Kingsbury's job.

Kingsbury's first regular season has ended with the ship capsizing on the rocks. Fortunately, it is only one season. But in season two, improvement needs to be shown. Given what Tech has coming back, that improvement may not show up in wins and losses, but it needs to be seen in the way the Red Raiders play the game. That much, we should be able to expect.

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