Tech safety Jah’Shawn Johnson on Monday was named the Big 12 Conference defensive player of the week. The 5-foot-10, 179-pound redshirt freshman was credited with 16 tackles in the Red Raiders’ 35-24 win Saturday at Arkansas.
That included a tackle behind the line on a third-and-3 play from the 4-yard line that forced Arkansas to settle for a field goal.
Johnson closed the game by stripping a fumble away from Arkansas running back Alex Collins.
The role Quinton White had last year as a third-down back has gone away, but the Texas Tech running back has started the first two games and played quite a bit.
The Red Raiders are using two-back sets frequently. That’s been White’s ticket to playing time, pairing him at fullback with DeAndre Washington or Justin Stockton at tailback.
“Those are three of our better players,” running backs coach Mike Jinks said, “and we want to try to get them on the field a little bit together, so yeah, we have (used more two-back sets).”
Redshirt freshman Justin Murphy made his first career start for Texas Tech last week at right guard and made the most of the opportunity.
Offensive line coach Lee Hays, not usually prone to exaggeration, said Murphy “played as hard as I’ve ever seen a guy play in 20 years.”
That’s saying something, given that for the last two or three years, left guard Alfredo Morales gets touted unanimously by Hays and linemates as the unit’s hardest-working player.
Offensive coordinator Eric Morris said he’s not concerned about the throws Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes has missed. Though Mahomes had a hand in six touchdowns Saturday, he twice overthrew speed receiver Devin Lauderdale and overshot Jonathan Giles another time while throwing on the run. All three would have been big plays, and Giles would have had a virtual walk-in touchdown.
Texas Tech’s Sept. 26 home game against TCU has been set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be nationally televised on FOX.
The Big 12’s TV partners made their selections for the Sept. 26 games Monday on the usual 12-day advance notice.
The other assignments that day are Maryland-West Virginia (2 p.m. on FS1), Rice-Baylor (2 p.m., FSN) and Oklahoma State-Texas (2:30 p.m. on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2). Kansas’ game at Rutgers will be an 11 a.m. start, televised by the Big Ten Network.
Saturday’s Texas Tech-Arkansas game could be one of those irresistible force-immovable object matchups, based on recent results.
Tech has averaged nearly 48 points in the last five games Patrick Mahomes has started at quarterback.
That’s not counting Mahomes’ first start, when he was knocked out in the second quarter last Nov. 1 against Texas and is, admittedly, skewed by 59- and 69-point games against non-power-five opponents this season.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on Tuesday said middle linebacker Micah Awe (shoulder) and flanker Dylan Cantrell (back) will be game-time decisions on Saturday. He said they’ve practiced this week, but weren’t full participants.
Cornerback Nigel Bethel II missed Saturday’s game and continues to practice with a bulky protective covering over his injured hand and fingers.
“It’s just whether that hand comes around enough to where he feels comfortable enough to play,” Kingsbury said.
When Texas Tech defensive line coach Mike Smith looked at video from the first game of 2015, it reminded him of 2014.
“I couldn’t tell any difference (between) the way we looked last year and right now up front,” Smith said.
Tech yielded 671 yards, 351 on the ground, in a 59-45 season-opening victory Saturday against Sam Houston State. That’s not encouraging given that the Red Raiders have seven senior defensive linemen, including three second-year JC transfers from whom they want to see progress.
Smith said effort wasn’t the issue with his defensive linemen.
Texas Tech offensive coaches held back newcomer Paul Stawarz from playing in the late stages of the team’s 59-45 victory Saturday against Sam Houston State. They’d like to redshirt Stawarz, a 6-5, 295-pound sophomore tackle, for several reasons: He just joined the program, he just turned 18 and a stress fracture in one of his shins set back his conditioning this summer.
Barring an injury, the Red Raiders should be OK at tackle with starters Le’Raven Clark and Baylen Brown and swing tackle Justin Murphy.
Poet Thomas is starting over at noseguard after he was unable to crack the offensive-line rotation early in his career. The 6-foot-6, 332-pound sophomore is unlikely to see significant time this year with seniors Rika Levi, Marcus Smith and Keland McElrath ahead of him, but gives the team a long-range possibility.