Friday, the 2023 Texas Tech football team’s regular season went out with a whimper. Still, here are some rapid reactions to what we saw in the 57-7 loss to Texas in Austin.
Texas Tech has a talent deficit that is painful to acknowledge
The biggest takeaway from this game is how far the Red Raiders have to go in terms of talent acquisition before they are ready to sit at the adult table. Sure, Tech can compete with other middling teams in the Bit 12 but when asked to take on the nation’s No. 7 team on the road, it was laughable how huge the gap in talent was between the Horns and Joey McGuire’s team.
Texas has NFL players at every position group on the roster. Multiple NFL players at each position in fact.
Tech may have one or two NFL players on the entire roster and one could be the punter. What’s more, it is fair to ask if any Red Raider would start for UT.
Yes, Texas and OU will be leaving the Big 12 this offseason and no one coming in to take their place is going to have the type of talent that they bring to the table. So Tech can expect to be on a more even playing field with its future conference foes.
However, the goal is to be in the expanded College Football Playoff and Tech is nowhere near ready to think about that yet. McGuire is recruiting at a level that is as high as anyone in program history but it will take time for that incoming talent to develop into difference-makers. Until then, it will be an uphill fight against elite teams.
Texas Tech has to fix its offensive line
Until the Red Raiders figure out how to fix the offensive line, this program will continue to top out at mediocrity. We were reminded of that on Friday when Tech had to try to block two future NFL defensive tackles.
For the game, Tech had only 198 total yards while giving up five tackles for loss. What’s more, Tech averaged only 3.1 yards per play.
The problem is that it is hard to field an elite O-line. Everyone in the nation is trying to collect four or five elite linemen per recruiting class and there simply aren’t that many four or five-star O-line recruits to go around.
What’s more, projecting how a high-school O-line recruit will pan out at the college level is next to impossible unless he is an All-American signee. Still, Tech has to figure out how to get better.
Next year, the plan should be to replace the three departing pieces not with average players from the Group of 5 or JUCO level but with legitimate Power 5 players. How Tech finds those players is up to McGuire and his recruiting chops to figure out.
Mike Leach proved in the late 2000s that you can have elite O-line play in Lubbock. Until McGuire follows that plan and has similar results, nights like we saw on Friday are going to be all too common when Tech faces top-end talent.
I won’t miss seeing Texas Tech play Texas
Maybe it’s because I’m not a native Texan or because I’m just naturally bent to be a contrarian but I, for one, am not nostalgic about the end of the series with Texas. That’s because I’m tired of the almost annual beating that this game proves to be.
UT is now 55-18 all-time against the Red Raiders. What’s more, nights like we saw on Friday have not been uncommon in this series’ history.
Tech also got its doors blown off by the Horns in 2021, 2019, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2005, 2004, and 2001 this century. Sure, beating UT is more fun than beating Cincinnati or UCF will be but the talent disparity between the two programs often leads to embarrassing days like we had to endure on Friday night.
My hope is that we see UT again but in a high-stakes playoff game. Should that happen, it might even take place on one of the campuses given the proposed format of the new playoff.
If that comes to pass, Tech will assumedly have improved itself as a program and will be on better footing to compete with the Horns. But right now, this program isn’t at that level and it is hard to watch the type of mud stomping that we have had to come to endure so often in this series.
I know Kirby Hocutt wishes he could play UT every year but I don’t. I’d rather play A&M because they are more fun to hate and more fun to beat. Plus, we actually beat them with regularity.
As for Texas, I say good riddance. I won’t miss playing them as much as most Tech fans will and I guess that makes me strange. I can handle that. What I can’t handle are more nights like we saw on Friday.