What a Difference a
Turnover Makes: Going into what proved to be Texas Tech’s final defensive
series of the 2012 football season, the Red Raider defense had gone 25 quarters
(over six games) and six overtime periods without creating a single turnover.
And for all the world it looked as though this lack of
opportunism might cost Tech a bowl game against a mediocre-at-best Minnesota
Then, when the Red Raiders just had to have it, up popped Tre’ Porter to tip a pass, and up popped senior D. J.
Johnson to snare the pigskin and tote it into field goal range for the home
team. Ryan Bustin whiffled through a 28-yard boot and
Tech pulled out another nutty bowl victory over Minnesota.
Has there ever been clearer evidence for the need to
generate turnovers in the game of football? Something to ponder as Texas Tech
begins a new football era under Kliff Kingsbury and co-defensive coordinator
Bad Blood: The
Red Raiders and Golden Gophers have only met twice on the gridiron, but this
game was as nasty as any ever played between Tech and Texas A&M. The two
teams combined for 20 penalties, nine of which were of the personal
foul/unsportsmanlike conduct variety, and one ejection. These teams did not
like one another, which is a bit odd given their lack of history.
So why all the malice? Raiderpower capo di tutti capi may have given us
the answer when he reported on some sort of goofy rodeo competition that was
staged between U Minne and the Red Raiders.
Surprisingly, the northerners who have never wrangled anything friskier than a
bowl of oaten porridge, bested the Texans by a 5-2 count and then proceeded to
rub it in on the Red Raiders.
Silly though it may sound, I believe an embarrassed Tech
team saw scarlet because of their bovine failure and came out with a
grudge-face for the Gophers when the game kicked off. Minnesota, in turn, saw
themselves as the bigger, more physical team, and sought to bully the Red
Raiders. Put it all together and you’ve got a Texas cage match more than a
Drive in History? The Red
Raiders escaped with the victory, but based on their bumbling and buffoonish
play on their final drive of the third quarter, may not have deserved to.
With the score tied at 24, Tech drove from its own 44 to the
Minnesota 19 where Seth Doege hit Darrin Moore on the bubble screen for an
apparent touchdown. But hold everything. Tyson Williams was flagged for a
flagrant and entirely unnecessary holding penalty. Touchdown negated.
Still, Tech persevered. The Red Raiders got to the Minnesota
one, whereupon Jakeem Grant got the ball on a fly sweep and scored an apparent
touchdown. But not so fast, my friends! Instant replay showed Grant fumbling
the ball out of bounds before crossing the goal line, and compounding matters, Jace Amaro was flagged for
mugging a Gopher in the end zone. So instead of the score being 31-24 Tech, the
Red Raiders were faced with 3rd-and-15 from the 15.
Following an incomplete pass, Ryan Bustin
was hauled out to boot home a chip shot, which he did. 27-24, right? Not on
your Nelly. Jackson Richards jumped early, and the ball was moved back another
five yards for what still should have been an easy field goal.
With chants of “Block that kick!” echoing in the background,
the Gophers did just that as a Minnesota defender came Scott free through the
line and swatted Bustin’s second offering aside.
In this drive, Tech had two touchdowns and a field goal
wiped off the board. And all because of their own lack
of discipline, composure and ball security.
The Cumbie Report: Current and future Tech coach Sonny Cumbie called the plays in this one, thanks to Neil Brown’s
move to the University of Kentucky. The results were mixed.
The first half was an almost total success as the Red
Raiders scored two touchdowns and a field goal on three possessions. The mix of
run and pass was good, and Cumbie kept the Gophers
off balance. However, the Fumble Rooskie call at the
Minnesota two which resulted in a three-yard loss was atrocious. The Red
Raiders were mauling the Gophers up front and a simple handoff to Kenny Williams or Eric Stephens would have resulted in a touchdown. Instead, Cumbie forgot he was coaching a real game rather than
playing a videogame, and it cost the Red Raiders a touchdown.
Second half play calling was worse. The Gophers had been
unable to remotely slow Williams and Stephens down the entire game (they
averaged 9.3 yards per carry!), yet Cumbie rarely
called their number in the third and fourth quarters (they combined for a mere
12 carries the entire game). Instead, Cumbie put
everything on Seth Doege’s shoulders, and the burden
was almost too much to bear.
One of Kliff Kingsbury’s greatest strengths as a play caller
is his tendency to stick with what works, whether it be the run or pass. That
is a trait few offensive coordinators possess. And it is one area in which Cumbie would do well to learn from his new boss.