October 16, 2011

Special teams cost Tech, again

During the postgame press conference following the Red Raiders' surprising 41-34 loss against Kansas State, three coaches took the podium to own up to the disappointment. They were head coach Tommy Tuberville, offensive coordinator Neal Brown and defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow.

At points in the game each coach appeared to be coaching a career game. The defense held Kansas State to 94 first half yards on its way to an acceptable 339 yards. The offense looked as powerful as ever racking up 580 yards. Tuberville oversaw it all.

But there was no special teams coach at the postgame conference. No one was there to own up for two blocked field goal attempts and a kickoff returned for 100 yards which, make no mistake about it, cost the Red Raiders a huge game.

"Two blocked field goals, kickoff return ran back," Tuberville said. "Interception return ran back. I mean, it's just you know we led in every category, but we lose by 7. But I sat here and told the team that this is one that we didn't want to look back on and say we wish we hadn't done this, we wish we hadn't done that, and we did exactly that.

"It's going to be one that we can probably look back and harp on and say if we had just done this, played a little bit better there."

Forget that quarterback Seth Doege threw a pick six and two more interceptions. Forget the fumble. Forget the defense had a lackluster second half.

At the end of the day, special teams cost the Red Raiders six points on offense and 14 real Kansas State points.

Special teams kept the Red Raiders from taking at the very worst a 28-7 lead to the locker room rather than a 28-20 lead.

It's the second time in as many games that special teams play directly cost Texas Tech a football game.

So Brown and Glasgow went to the podium afterward listing reasons why their side of the ball cost the Red Raiders the ballgame. Although Doege did make some bad throws, he wasn't the problem that he appeared to feel like he was when addressing the media. Aaron Crawford was even more visibly upset with the loss.

And while each coach and each player at the post-game press conference could have done something better -- this could be said after every game -- there was no representative from a pure special teams standpoint. That's because special teams is largely a collective effort by both players and coaches.

It's clear there needs to be more leadership there. If that means hiring a special teams coordinator so be it. But if that's the route Tech takes, it will have to wait until the end of the season.

But changes are needed right now.

"I would imagine we'll make quite a few," Tuberville said. "Problem is we're getting into a situation, Ben McRoy got hurt in the first half, we had to take him out. We've got several starters now that we've worked down the ladder that are going on special teams.

'We're probably going to have to bite the bullet and play a lot of these young guys and put them in and let them play because they're standing over there watching while you're got a guy playing 60 or 70 plays on defense. Then having them play 15 to 20 plays on special teams. It's just hard to do that. We're trying to get the best of both worlds, but we're playing a lot of young guys at other
positions. So we'll make some changes going into this week on special teams."

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