After knocking off Arizona State in last year's bowl game, Texas Tech entered 2014 with optimistic expectations. Those hopes quickly dissipated, as the Red Raiders went on to finish with a disappointing 4-8 record while missing out on a bowl for just the second time since 1992.
Below, our team-by-team season report card series continues with Texas Tech:
The Red Raiders weren't horrible offensively. But they weren't lethal, either. Running back DeAndre Washington was one of the bright spots, becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher at Tech since 1998. But behind quarterback Davis Webb, the offense was wildly inconsistent and self-destructive, as Webb led the Big 12 with 13 interceptions before sitting out the final four games with an ankle injury. Tech, however, got inspiring performances from true freshman Patrick Mahomes at the end of the year. After stepping in for Webb, Mahomes threw for 14 touchdowns to just a pair of interceptions in Tech's final three games. He also shredded Baylor for almost 600 passing yards as Tech nearly upset the Bears in its final game.
The Red Raiders were horrible defensively. Coach Kliff Kingsbury had hoped a horde of junior-college signees would plug Tech's run defense. That didn't happen, as the Red Raiders ranked last in the league in stopping the run. The pass defense was only slightly better, as Tech surrendered at least 290 yards through the air in six of its nine conference games. The Red Raiders weren't opportunistic, either, finishing at the bottom of the Big 12 with just six interceptions.
Special Teams: C+
Unlike defense, special teams weren't necessarily a weakness for the Red Raiders. True freshman Cameron Batson solidified Tech's previous problems on punt returns, and avoided muffing a punt all year. Senior Kenny Williams was a valuable all-around special-teams contributor, and the kicking game was solid with place-kicker Ryan Bustin (who made 10 of 14 field goals) and punter Taylor Symmank (who ranked third in the Big 12 in punting average). Then again, Tech's special-teams units hardly struck fear in the opposition. The Red Raiders failed to return a single punt or kick for a touchdown all year.
This was a tumultuous second season for Kingsbury and his staff. Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt resigned before the end of the first month, throwing the defense into turmoil. The Red Raiders were also the most penalized team in the country, smacking of a team lacking discipline and leadership. Those issues fall back on Kingsbury and his staff.
It feels like an eternity ago that Tech was 7-0 and ranked 10th in the country in October 2013. Since then the Red Raiders have gone 2-12 in Big 12 play, with the only two wins coming over Kansas and Iowa State. Off the field, Kingsbury has recruited well. The Red Raiders have talent on campus and more on the way. They also have a budding quarterback to build around in Mahomes, who improved dramatically over the course of the season. But until they cut down on the penalties and turnovers, and start playing reasonable defense, the Red Raiders will struggle to be a factor in the Big 12.