From the Texas Tech lockerroom
MORGANTOWN – Lingchi was a brutal form of torture used in Imperial China that was also known as “death by a thousand cuts.”
Kliff Kingsbury, the coach of No. 24 Texas Tech, may not be familiar with the terminology, but he certainly knows the feeling.
A second-half slumber allowed West Virginia to overcome a 35-17 third-quarter deficit and ease past the Red Raiders 46-35 at Milan Puskar Stadium. But numerous cringe-worthy mistakes defined the day for the visitors.
The Mountaineers were ugly, with nine penalties for 93 yards, but the Red Raiders were downright hideous, drawing 16 flags for 159 yards, including three pass interference calls on one WVU scoring drive. Need more? Kicker Michael Barden missed field goals from 43, 23 and 37 yards.
“I thought we came out fast and executed at a high level and just faded in the second half,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to figure out how to put distance between ourselves when we have an opportunity to do that.”
Texas Tech started fast, as quarterback Nic Shimonek hit T.J. Vasher with a short pass on the second play of the game that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown. WVU answered with a 31-yard scoring pass from Will Grier to David Sills V but the Red Raiders began to pull away in the second quarter. Shimonek tossed 6-yard scoring passes to Dylan Cantrell and Keke Coutee and then connected with Vasher on a 53-yard strike to give the Red Raiders a 28-17 lead with 5:35 left to play in the half. More points appeared to be in the offing as the Raiders drove toward the end zone in the half’s closing minutes. They got to the WVU 6 before a 5-yard run by Cameron Batson. Facing fourth-and-one with five seconds left, Kingsbury elected to try to the field goal. Barden bounced the 23-yard kick off the left upright.
“We’ve got to score touchdowns and not put the stress on the kicker,” Shimonek said.
Barden is kicking because Clayton Hatfield, an All Big 12 kicker last year is out with a hip injury. Kingsbury said he will likely audition other kickers this week as his team prepares for Iowa State next week.
A Texas Tech score just before the end of the half might have changed the flow of the game, he said, but instead gave momentum and hope to the Mountaineers.
“You knew (WVU) would make a run and we weren’t ready for it,” he said.
Grier, who finished 32-of-41 passing for 352 yards, fired four TD passes in the second half, two to Ka’Raun White. With 9:11 left in the third quarter, the Mountaineers embarked on a 8-play, 75-yard drive capped by an 8-yard TD toss from Grier to Sills. The way to the end zone was paved with Texas Tech mistakes – three different players ,were called for pass interference.
“We can’t do that,” Kingsbury said. “(We) can’t give a good offense, a good quarterback with those receivers those type of opportunities on pass interference calls. They definitely helped some drives. You’ve got to give (WVU) credit. They executed in the second half and we didn’t.”
Texas Tech was previously 4-0 this year and 26-1 over Kingsbury when entering the third quarter with a lead.
The Mountaineers’ 18-point comeback is the second-biggest in Milan Puskar Stadium history and the most since they trailed 33-14 to Maryland in an eventual 34-33 win in 1992.