The Texas Tech Red Raiders fell to Oklahoma on Saturday 52-21 in a game that unfolded pretty much like everyone thought it would. It was a game that was never really in doubt after the first quarter and one that doesn’t deserve a ton of analysis. But here are a few quick thoughts from what we saw in Norman.

The team played hard for Sonny Cumbie

When you have a mid-season coaching change, there’s always the question of whether that team will mail it in for the remainder of the season or whether it will play hard for the interim head coach.  In Tech’s case on Saturday, it was the latter of the two options and that was nice to see.

For his part, Cumbie coached about as hard as you’ll ever see a head coach coach.  He was more than a little amped up and it showed in his demeanor throughout the contest.  And his team played hard today, just not well.  Playing hard is all you can ask for from a team in this situation and against a less-talented team than OU, that might be enough to pull out a surprise win.  But no team can play hard enough to make up the talent gap between the Red Raiders and the Sooners.

This should be the last we see of Henry Colombi

Sure, he’s gritty.  Sure, he’s competitive.  Sure, he’s a good teammate.  But while he may be all of those things and more as a person, Henry Colombi is not a good quarterback.  And after today’s game, he should no longer start for the Red Raiders.

Before being replaced by redshirt freshman Donovan Smith, Colombi was just 7-12 passing for 77 yards with a TD and an INT.  While those numbers aren’t abysmal, anyone who watched this game could clearly see that the offense was more than a bit stagnant with Colombi running the show and even if he had not been dinged up, it felt like Smith was ultimately going to replace him at some point this afternoon.

Now, the seal on Smith has been broken.  He’s been used as an actual QB rather than a glorified running back and there’s no reason to go back to Colombi.

Smith wasn’t perfect but he was much better than Colombi was.  Completing 17-22 passes for 192 yards and a TD with one pick, the Las Vegas native and Frienship product was more than serviceable in his first meaningful action as a collegiate.

What you have to like about Smith is that he gives the offense what OU’s Caleb Williams gave the Sooners all day long, someone who can improvise and make something out of nothing.  Colombi isn’t that type of player and given how bad this offensive line is, Tech needs a magician at QB.

While Smith is far from the second coming of Pat Mahomes at this point, he does give the offense a fighting chance with both his rocket of an arm and his legs and if I were Sonny Cumbie, I wouldn’t go back to Colombi as my starter.  Now, when Tyler Shough is ready to return, whether you go with him or Smith is a tough call.

This secondary looked lost

Time and time again, the Oklahoma receivers found themselves so wide open that when they caught the ball, they almost looked confused by all the different directions they could have chosen to run.  It was the worst day of the year for the Red Raider secondary, which gave up 469 yards and 7 TDs through the air while only forcing seven incompletions and being credited with a measly one pass defense.

What was most frustrating was that when Williams broke contain and started to scramble, the Red Raider defensive backs would turn into spectators and simply watch him run around while seeming to forget all about the guy they were supposed to cover.  Perhaps Tech placed too much emphasis on William’s rushing ability this week (Cumbie spoke about it to the media a few days ago and it seemed to be a priority of their defensive game plan).

Or perhaps this secondary, like the defensive line, is just not very good.  Tech entered the game ranked 82nd nationally in passing yards allowed and that’s only going to drop after Saturday’s woeful showing.

We may have gotten rid of Matt Wells but defensive coordinator Keith Patterson remains and the end of his tenure can’t come soon enough for Texas Tech football fans.  That was again the sentiment throughout yet another day when his defense, and specifically the secondary, looked completely confused and poorly coached.

This program has a long way to climb

We got a taste of what an elite football team looks like on Saturday and the No. 4 Sooners made the Red Raiders look as hapless as the Cavazos Jr. High developmental team.  It was a sobering reminder of just how far the Red Raiders are from competing at the top end of the conference.

All day long, OU simply toyed with Tech and did whatever it wanted on both sides of the ball.  And what’s tough to swallow is that this is not as good of an Oklahoma team as most in Norman are accustomed to seeing.

Watching this game, it was hard to imagine more than two Red Raiders, Erik Ezukanma and Colin Schooler, cracking the OU two-deep.  The disparity between the two rosters is that great at this point.

That’s why Kirby Hocutt repeatedly emphasized recruiting and Texas ties when talking about his next head coach during Monday’s press conference to announce the firing of Matt Wells.  The talent gap between Texas Tech and OU will always be in the Sooner’s favor but it shouldn’t be as one-sided as it was on Saturday.

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