It was Homecoming Saturday in Lubbock, but former Texas Tech assistant Dana Holgorsen likely won’t remember this trip back to west Texas fondly.
The Mountaineers were dominated by the Red Raiders in essentially every facet, and WVU’s defense again was victimized early and often in Texas Tech’s 49-14 win at Jones AT&T Stadium.
The game was essentially over by halftime. Quarterback Seth Doege took advantage of a porous Mountaineer secondary to throw for 336 yards and four touchdowns by halftime, as Tech took a 35-7 lead into the locker room.
But while the defense didn’t have its best day, things may have actually been worse on offense.
Offensive Player of the Game
For the first time in a long time, Geno Smith looked like a mere mortal. The senior saw his Heisman Trophy candidacy take a big hit, as he finished 29-of-55 for 275 yards with one touchdown. He had only thrown 38 incomplete passes in WVU’s first five games; he threw 26 on Saturday alone.
Smith’s accuracy -- pinpoint through the team’s first five games -- was just a bit off all afternoon. He struggled to find the right touch on deep passes, and with Texas Tech tackling well in space, WVU could not string together drives. It was 10-of-21 on third downs (it faced only 12 all game at Texas last week) and converted only 1 of 6 fourth down tries.
“Geno let the wind affect him,” Holgorsen said. “I’ve played around here for eight years, and it wasn’t any windier today. It’s a nuisance, but if you let that be an excuse, it’s going to mess with you and I think it did.”
Smith didn’t buy it. “The wind didn't bother me. Anyone who says that obviously doesn't know football,” the senior quarterback said.
West Virginia (5-1, 2-1) scored the fewest points of the Holgorsen era on offense (the previous low was 21 in last season’s games against LSU and Pittsburgh). It was the most lopsided loss the program has taken since a 2001 game against then-No. 1 Miami, when coach Rich Rodriguez’s first WVU team fell 45-3.
The Mountaineers did not score their second and final touchdown until only 2:41 remained. By then, it was 49-7 and many among the crowd of 57,328 -- the ninth-largest in stadium history -- were preparing to rush the field in celebration.
Defensive Player of the Game
1 pass break-up
But the loss wasn’t entirely the fault of the offense. Texas Tech finished with 686 total yards, the second-most ever given up by a Mountaineer defense. The school record for ineffectiveness is 700 yards allowed, set earlier this season in WVU’s 70-63 win over Baylor.
It wasn’t just the passing game that gouged West Virginia either -- though Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1) did manage more than 500 yards through the air. The Red Raiders averaged 5.8 yards per rush as well, totaling 168 yards on the ground on 29 attempts.
“They were the better team today,” Holgorsen said. “They outplayed us. They outcoached us. They were better on all three sides of the ball. That happens in football.”
Doege finished with 504 passing yards, completing 32 of 42 throws. He added six touchdown passes and was intercepted once. After the game, he compared facing WVU’s defense with a 7-on-7 pass skeleton drill, focusing on the Mountaineers’ lack of a pass rush.
For West Virginia, Tavon Austin finished with nine receptions for 99 yards. Stedman Bailey had six catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, but did not play in the second half due to an ankle injury.
Other injuries piled up as well: linebacker Isaiah Bruce said he had a hip pointer after the game. Offensive lineman Jeff Braun did not play in the second half. Cornerback Brodrick Jenkins was also held out for a stretch.
Life gets no easier for West Virginia either, as the last remaining unbeaten team in the Big 12, No. 5 Kansas State, will travel to Morgantown to play in primetime next Saturday night.