From injuries to coaching changes, the news pouring out of Lubbock, Tex. this season has been nothing short of turbulent.
Back in September, Texas Tech announced that its defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt was resigning after he was suspected of being under the influence of an unknown substance on campus. Assistant Mike Smith was promoted to his position immediately, but finding his rhythm with the defense proved to be problematic right out of the gate.
For a season that had just begun, the lackluster performances seemed to reflect an opinion that Tech’s defense was truly bad. As far as the staff was concerned, it was frustrating, but all you can do in that situation is hope for the best, practice, and try and execute to the best of your ability on game days.
Through 10 games this season, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have posted a 3-7 record and rank 119th in the nation in total defense. Of the 5,036 total yards they have coughed up this season, 53 touchdowns have been scored (41.6 points per game), and 503.6 total yards of offense have been allowed per game. Coming off a 2013 season where the Red Raiders went 8-3 and came up big against ranked Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, you could just say it’s a rebuilding year. But a recent phone call changed that theory in its entirety.
In a tweet by Brian Davis of the Austin-American Statesman, first-year Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong contacted Texas Tech to inform them that they had obtained Texas Tech’s signals.
This begged the question of why Tech didn’t immediately change their defensive strategies and signals upon Wallerstedt’s resignation on Sept. 18.
This was brought to media attention during last weekend’s 42-30 home loss against the Oklahoma Sooners, when assistants were seen holding up towels to shield defensive strategies and plays from peering eyes.
Following the game, Kingsbury said that signals had been passed around, and that it was from a situation earlier this season. Of course that immediately drew attention to Wallerstedt.
“I hate having excuses. I won’t have excuses, but when somebody knows when you’re in a certain coverage every time, so I’m sitting there thinking, ‘How the heck are they attacking our corners?’” said Smith. “‘How do they know we’re not in quarter-quarter-halves?’ ‘How do they know we’re not in cover two?’”
Bad luck certainly plays a roll in the situation, but Wallerstedt (now a consultant at UL-Lafayette) lawyered up and released a statement shortly after.
“I respect the players, and coach Kingsbury and Smith would do well to simply execute their own game plan instead of trying to blame others for what may be their own shortcomings,” Wallerstedt said.
His lawyer, Gaines West said that Wallerstedt was “too busy doing his job” and wouldn’t be answering anymore questions.
Sure, blame can be issued at nearly every twist and turn, and for any team. But jeopardizing student-athletes’ careers by compromising plays and signals is something you don’t mess with. In my professional opinion, I’d like to see Kingsbury retain Mike Smith and establish some concrete building blocks within the program to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
*Section Photo credit to Stephen Spillman, Associated Press; Featured Photo (above) credit to Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports