Though the sentiment from a huge swath of the Texas Tech football fan base is that offensive coordinator David Yost is not measuring up, the reality is that the performance of defensive coordinator Keith Patterson is what deserves more criticism.
With six days in between games, football lends itself to more second-guessing and over-analyzing than any other sport. So it’s no surprise that Texas Tech football fans are voicing their frustrations following a stretch that has seen our team drop four of its last five games to fall to 3-4 overall and just 1-3 in Big 12 play.
During Saturday’s frustrating 34-24 loss to Iowa State, social media platforms and online message boards were on fire as angry Tech fans voiced their displeasure while watching the Red Raiders drop the program’s fourth-straight game to the Cyclones. It was a sobering reminder of just how far Texas Tech football has plummeted in the hierarchy of the Big 12 when a program such as Iowa State, which was once considered a guaranteed win on the schedule each fall, has now made Texas Tech the fire hydrant on which it yearly hikes its hind leg on the way to an eight or nine-win season.
But though the complaints covered everything from the coaching staff, to the players, to the lack of fan support, to the in-game music selections, to even where the band is seated in the stadium, one man bore the brunt of the criticism: offensive coordinator David Yost.
Granted, we all feel that prolific offense has now become this program’s birthright. After all, this program has been on the leading edge of the sport’s spread offense revolution since the 2000 season.
We’ve come to believe that offensive talent just falls into place at Texas Tech and that no matter how significant the losses from the previous year or how much the team’s offensive scheme changes from season to season, there’s no reason for this program to be in the top-10 nationally in most offensive categories.
That’s why fans are disgruntled this year. Texas Tech football looks different. It isn’t that we are losing more than we are winning. Unfortunately, we are accustomed to that. It’s that we are losing while not putting up offensive stats that grab the attention of the nation.
Apparently, this fan base is more comfortable losing games 66-59 as was the case in the unforgettable 2016 game against Oklahoma in Lubbock than 28-14 or 34-24 (the scores of the Arizona and ISU games this year). Perhaps that’s basic human psychology at work.
In the end, everyone would rather be known for something, no matter how negative that identity might be, than to be invisible. In the years that Tech featured both one of the nation’s best offenses and one of its worst defenses (as was the case in the Pat Mahomes years of 2015-16), Red Raider fans were able to take some solace in the fact that our program was notable for the offensive fireworks it provided each week. At least we could get on Sports Center for something even when the team was stumbling to a below .500 record despite having the best QB in the nation.
This year, we cant’ even rely on our offensive identity any more. What is this team known for? Without eye-popping stats coming from Lubbock and lacking enough wins of significance to garner anyone’s attention outside of Loop 289, Texas Tech football has rarely felt more irrelevant than it does now, even in its own state where 7-0 SMU is the darling of the day and the Aggies seem to be losing to a top-5 team every other week.
Tech isn’t even being acknowledged for ineptitude as was the case last year when at least people across the Big 12 were talking about the fate of Kliff Kingsbury, who was one of the most intriguing coaches in the nation. But in 2019, Texas Tech is a rebuilding program muddling through the inevitable mire that accompanies a new coaching staff’s first year. And because that coach is not a household name or an up-and-coming 30-something rising star, the process is largely being ignored.
This is all to say that the reason we are so much more frustrated with David Yost’s offense is because its struggles are taking away the one vestige of pride we have been able to hang our hats on for the last decade. We knew we weren’t always going to win but we were fairly certain that regardless of the outcome, we would put on a show worth watching.
But that didn’t get us too far. Video-game offensive numbers can only carry a program so far if the other side of the ball is in shambles as was the case in the Mahomes era when Tech went just 13-16 with a future NFL MVP leading the offense. That’s why it is odd that the consternation about defensive coordinator Keith Patterson’s defense is not on par with that surrounding Yost and the offense.
In reality, it is far too early to evaluate either of Matt Wells’ coordinators properly. Just as a head coach deserves multiple seasons before being judged, so do his coordinators, especially when the entire coaching staff is trying to bring new systems and ideas to a football program.
But the reality is that coordinators are the easy scapegoats in football. When a coach is on the hot seat, he will often try to silence some of his most vocal critics by shaking up his coaching staff. That’s nothing new to Red Raider fans who have seen the program go through defensive coordinators as quickly as the head coach goes through socks.
Therefore, we have developed an illogical belief that coordinators, especially on the offensive side of the ball, should be viewed as miracle-workers ready to bring a quick fix to town regardless of the limitations of the roster he has inherited. But again, such is the nature of football fans.
Texas Tech fans are no different. We are going to be as hard on our coordinators as any other fan base whose program has put up a losing record for three-straight years. But if you want to criticize the work of one of Tech’s coordinators thus far in 2019, Yost is not where we should start. Let’s take a look at why many Texas Tech fans are pointing their vitriol at the wrong Red Raider coordinator.