MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s red zone offense against Texas Tech was almost too bad to be true.

“We didn’t do a very good job inside the 20,” said WVU coach Neal Brown. “If you get into a scoring match, you have to score in the red zone.”

Entering Saturday, the Red Raiders possessed one of the nation’s most porous red zone defenses. Opponents had scored on 88.8 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, making Texas Tech 112th in the country in that category.

Apparently, nothing mends what ails such a struggling defense quite like this year’s WVU offense.

Following Saturday’s game, Texas Tech skyrocketed all the way to 50th in the country in red zone defense. For a single game this late on the schedule to produce such a significant jump is almost inconceivable.

It could have been even worse.

Without a meaningless late WVU touchdown, Texas Tech would have leaped up to 45th in the country. Yet another West Virginia drive ended at the Texas Tech 22, which doesn’t get counted in the red zone tally even though it should.

We broke down the film to see where things went awry for the Mountaineers on their five fruitless trips inside the 25.

First Quarter

Result: Casey Legg 30-yard field goal

As nice as it was to see Legg get his first career field goal, this was a game where everyone knew drives ending in 3 points weren’t going to get the job done.

Where it went wrong

Three plays stick out here, starting with the one that got the Mountaineers into the red zone.

George Campbell hauled in a 50-yard reception from Austin Kendall, but had to reach back to get it. If Kendall hits him in stride, it’s a touchdown. Though he has said that the wrap he’s been wearing on his throwing hand since the Missouri game has not affected his throws, plays like this and several others make you wonder if that’s not exactly the truth.

West Virginia’s first-down play from the Texas Tech 7 set the tone for the drive’s failure.

Three Red Raiders are swarming Kennedy McKoy literally the moment he takes a draw handoff from Kendall. With seven Red Raiders on the line of scrimmage, this play is a touchdown if McKoy can get to the second level with good blocking. Perhaps Neal Brown can’t be faulted for calling it early in the game to see if maybe the Mountaineers could get some push against an underwhelming defense. Turns out they couldn’t.

Yet another recurring issue pops up on second-and-goal when Winston Wright drops the ball on a crossing pattern. Wright wouldn’t have scored, but the Mountaineers would have had a more manageable situation than gaining 13 yards on third-and-goal if he held on.

Second Quarter

Result: Turnover on downs

Already getting pummeled 35-10 late in the first half, Brown knows it is pointless to attempt a field goal on a fourth-and-6 from the Texas Tech 22 and tries for the first down.

Where it went wrong

Another 50-yard pass that should have been more. The drive opened with a 51-yard pass from Kendall to Sam James, but it might have resulted in a 94-yard touchdown if James didn’t have to adjust for a ball that had too much air under it.

However, this drive isn’t officially sunk until a terrible play on third-and-6.

Kendall has to adjust to a high snap, then has a case of bad miscommunication with receiver Isaiah Esdale. Esdale appears to be running a wheel route that should score a touchdown, but Kendall is expecting him to run a comeback route, resulting in a throw that is wildly off the mark – so bad that it eliminates a potential interception.

It’s unclear which player got the play wrong, though based on how the play developed Kendall is the more likely culprit.

Third Quarter

Result: Turnover on downs

Once again, West Virginia has no reason to attempt a field goal down 25 points on the first possession of the second half. The drive falls apart on fourth-and-6 from the Texas Tech 11.

Where it went wrong

The fourth-down play gets off to an inauspicious start as the Mountaineers are forced to burn a timeout before taking a delay of game due to sloppy substitution. It’s a harbinger for a play on which one Mountaineer doesn’t actually know what he’s supposed to do.

Brown dials up the right play for a touchdown, but instead gets an incompletion as tight end Jovani Haskins and wide receiver Ali Jennings collide in the back of the end zone. Incredibly, the play ends with Jennings – a true freshman – telling the redshirt junior Haskins where he was supposed to go.

Granted, Haskins has not practiced as much as Jennings this season due to an injury. But this is yet another bad look for a guy who has been the most disappointing player on the team in 2019 both on and off the field.

Result: Interception

In a moment of desperation, Brown calls a flea-flicker from the Texas Tech 17. It’s picked off in the end zone.

Where it went wrong

It starts with the play call.

“We were fishing,” Brown said. “Was it a good play call? No, because it didn’t work. But we were 0-fer in the red zone at that point. We were just fishing for something.”

The execution isn’t very good, either.

Rather than hitting an open Jennings on a slant, Kendall underthrows James in triple coverage. As a result, his destination after that play is the bench.

Fourth Quarter

Result: Turnover on downs

The Mountaineers make it as far as the 2-yard line before the drive falls apart on three consecutive failed plays.

Where it went wrong

On second down, quarterback Jarret Doege tucks the ball on a read option. Based on what he sees, it’s the right idea. There’s a big hole to the end zone. Problem is Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks is the fastest middle linebacker in the Big 12. Brooks makes up that ground to nab Doege for a 2-yard loss.

Prior to third down, West Virginia burns another timeout right before the play clock expires. Once again a chance to talk things over doesn’t make a difference as the drive ends on back-to-back incompletions.