Texas Tech wasn’t going to beat Oklahoma on Saturday the way Landry Jones was playing. Not with the Sooners’ quarterback throwing on time, in rhythm, without having to wait for a receiver to come open.
Tech safety D.J. Johnson said Jones panics when a defense takes his first option away. That might or might not be true, but the Red Raiders never much tested the theory.
With Jones efficiently throwing for 259 yards and two touchdowns, it was easy to say “no pass rush,” but when a quarterback with an NFL arm takes three steps and throws on target — last year, he missed some open receivers — then there’s not much time for a rush to materialize. In that instance, Jones is hard to beat.
But the Red Raiders could have done a better job making a game of it, and that’s the point here. Tech’s 41-20 loss to Oklahoma was similar to the Red Raiders’ 52-20 loss last year at Texas, to the extent they didn’t make the most of their opportunities. In that one, Tech got to the Texas’ 12- and 22-yard lines and kicked field goals, got to the UT 43 and turned it over on downs, got to the 39 and punted.
On Saturday, Tech advanced to the OU 18 and 26 and kicked field goals, reached midfield and threw an interception, made it to the OU 36 and turned it over on downs.
Heck, the Red Raiders even scored a touchdown in the final seconds of both games, obscuring the fact they put up only 13 points when the outcomes were in doubt.
Even after the Red Raiders closed to 14-13 at 6:58 before halftime Saturday, Tech coach Tommy Tuberville didn’t like the feel of it.
“I thought the situation where we had to kick that second field goal really took the life out of us,” he said. “We can’t get in the red zone and kick field goals every time and they’re getting in the red zone and scoring touchdowns. Against good teams, you’re not going to beat them very often.”
Ability isn’t necessarily the issue, because Tech had 411 yards that afternoon in Austin and 360 yards — only 20 fewer than the Sooners — on Saturday. There’s the theory that spread offenses struggle in the red zone, but Tech can run the ball. That’s supposed to make the Red Raiders harder to defend and less predictable inside the 20.
On Tech’s first drive, center Deveric Gallington and guard Le’Raven Clark made an enormous hole that Kenny Williams ran through untouched for a 7-yard touchdown.
That was the last drive the Red Raiders finished with authority until the one at the very end of the game. Williams turned an ankle and had only two carries after the second series. That hurt.
A week ago at Iowa State, in the aftermath of a 24-13 Tech win, it was easy to overlook how the Red Raiders on three separate series had negative plays in first-and-goal situations: a sack, a run for minus yardage and a holding penalty.
The Red Raiders’ problems down deep continued Saturday. Tech turned a first-and-10 from the OU 24 into third-and-12 with a run for lost yards and an incomplete pass. A little later, the Raiders turned second-and-3 from the OU 26 into another field goal after an incomplete pass and a penalty.
If the Red Raiders prioritize anything this week, red-zone offense would be a good place to start.
West Virginia comes in Saturday, and putting up 3s is no way to beat the Mountaineers.
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