Texas Tech safety Josh Keys has been kicked off the team for a team rules violation, Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the Red Raiders’ 34-21 victory Saturday againstKansas. He did not elaborate, other than to say Keys will not be back this season.
Kingsbury said he was “not sure yet” if Keys would have the opportunity to return after the season ends.
With Keys gone and starting free safety Keenon Ward out with a concussion, strong safety J.J. Gaines and free safety fill-in Jalen Barnes played all 72 defensive snaps.
Texas Tech running back Kenny Williams played a half dozen snaps on offense Saturday, but didn’t touch the football. In hindsight, running backs coach Mike Jinks said maybe he should have used Williams on a couple of key short-yardage situations Tech failed to convert in the third quarter of a 37-34 loss to West Virginia.
DeAndre Washington was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 from the WVU 35-yard line. On the very next series, with Tech facing third-and-goal from the 4, Davis Webb flowed right and threw back left to fullback Rodney Hall, who also got nothing.
Texas Tech will get starting left guard Alfredo Morales back from a knee sprain this week that caused him to miss nearly two full games.
The junior from Arlington Houston practiced Tuesday.
Morales’ presence means the Red Raiders can back away from a dangerous ledge depth-wise. Tech has four upperclassmen guards with starting experience — Morales, Baylen Brown, James Polk and Dominique Robertson, but went into last week’s game with Morales and Robertson (concussion) sidelined.
True freshman Justin Murphy was the next option, but coaches don’t want to use him this year.
Texas Tech offensive tackle Josh Outlaw practiced Tuesday at defensive tackle. It was his first day there.
Offensive line coach Lee Hays said the move was to add depth and linked to defensive lineman Demetrius Alston’s getting hurt in the Red Raiders’ 37-34 loss Saturday to West Virginia.
Hays was asked if it is just an emergency, short-term move.
Texas Tech defensive coordinator Mike Smith planned to have eight of his players stand up at the front of the defensive meeting room before Monday’s practice.
For what? To recogniize the guys who played close to or more than 100 plays in Saturday’s 37-34 loss to West Virginia and to call out the backups for not engendering enough confidence among coaches to give the workhorses a break.
West Virginia ran 94 plays. Throw in special teams, on which Darrin Chiaverini uses a lot of starters, and it took some Tech defensive players to more than 100.
Here are some quick bullet points from Texas Tech’s weekly Monday football press conference. I’ll have more in-depth notes later on several of the following items.
-- Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t expect the way Tech lost Saturday to West Virginia — blowing a 14-point lead late, then losing on a 55-yard field goal as time ran out — to affect how the Red Raiders bounce back.
“It’s a pretty resilient group,” Kingsbury said. “They better be motivated and from what I can tell, they are.”
-- Kingsbury said senior Bradley Marquez “is the one constant” in the receivers corps.
Texas Tech freshman cornerback Nigel Bethel II got his first start career start Saturday and lined up across fromWest Virginiaflanker Kevin White almost every snap. White tied a career-high with 13 receptions and finished with 123 yards, giving him 100-plus for all sixWest Virginiagames this season.
Tech abandoned its usual field cornerback/boundary cornerback scheme with White always lined up to the right of the formation, covered by Bethel, and split end Mario Alford always to the left, covered by Justis Nelson.
West Virginia’s Mario Alford returned kickoffs for touchdowns this year againstAlabamaandKansasand came in second in the nation in kick-return average. Tech mixed it up against Alford, twice using shorter “sky” kickoffs to keep it out of his hands.
Alford returned the opening kickoff for 32 yards and another in the second quarter on which linebacker Sam Atoe cut him down at the Mountaineers’ 15-yard line.
Kramer Fyfe, who replaced Taylor Symmank on kickoffs two weeks ago, also had three touchbacks on seven kickoffs.
Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb aggravated an injured left ankle with about 12 minutes left in the Red Raiders’ 37-34 loss Saturday toWest Virginia. He hobbled off after a failed third-down play and had the ankle re-taped, but appeared to be still limping on the next series.
Webb said he rolled the ankle in the third quarter the week before atKansasState.
“No excuses,” Webb said. “Got it taped up and just got to make some completions at the end of the game.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury reiterated Monday he has no plans to take quarterback Davis Webb out of the starting lineup after Webb threw four interceptions Saturday.
Kingsbury was asked if he considered opening up the quarterback competition this week, and he said he is not.
Kingsbury inserted true freshman Patrick Mahomes with a little more than three minutes left to play the last series in Saturday's 45-13 loss at Kansas State.