Twice in the first six games, Texas Tech has had a true freshman quarterback named Big 12 offensive player of the week after his first career start.
Baker Mayfield received that recognition after throwing for 413 yards and accounting for five touchdowns in the season opener, and Davis Webb earned the distinction on Monday after throwing for 415 yards and three TDs Saturday in a 42-35 win over Iowa State.
One of the reasons for Texas Tech’s 5-0 start this season has been the Red Raiders’ ability to rise up deep in their own end. Tech ranks tied for third in the nation in red-zone defense, yielding opponents two touchdowns and four field goals in 11 penetrations of the Red Raiders’ 20-yard line.
Apparently, that’s not by chance.
“One of our goals since the new coaching staff got in was, ‘sudden change — don’t let them score,’” defensive end Dartwan Bush said Tuesday. “That’s been our biggest concern other than takeaways.”
Baker Mayfield wasn’t on the field with the other Texas Tech quarterbacks when practice ended Tuesday. As the workout concluded and media assembled for post-practice interviews, Michael Brewer, Davis Webb and Clayton Nicholas were in uniform with the quarterbacks group, but not Mayfield.
However, the Tech freshman was walking around afterward, his knee wrapped but moving with no apparent problems. It was the second day in a row he wasn't on the field at the end of practice.
Texas Tech kicker Ryan Bustin leads the nation in field goals (13), field-goal attempts (15) and field goals per game (2.6), which has him on an NCAA record pace.
If he maintains it, Bustin would be 31 for 36 after 12 games and tie FBS records for single-season field goals (31 by Georgia’s Billy Bennett in 2003) and field goals per game (2.6 by UCLA’s John Lee, who made 29 in 11 games in 1984). Bustin is averaging 12.6 points per game, ahead of the FBS record pace for points per game by a kicker, which is 12.0 by Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp last year.
With Iowa State coming off not only a 31-30 loss but also a controversial ending last week against Texas, the Cyclones could be either really down or really motivated this week against Texas Tech.
“I would expect them to be pretty ticked off and coming out ready to go,” Tech co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said Monday. “They’re playing for a very passionate coach who cares a lot about his team obviously. I think when you have a situation like that, you want to get back on the field as quickly as possible.”
Texas Tech’s Oct. 19 game at West Virginia on Monday was set for an 11 a.m. CDT kickoff with television coverage by Fox Sports 1 (Suddenlink Cable channel 51). That’ll be three games in a row at the same time on the same station.
Last week, senior wide receiver Eric Ward said he’d rather play at 11 a.m. than 6 p.m. on the road.
Texas Tech coaches think freshman outside linebacker Jacarthy Mack will be worth the wait, given a couple of years and another 20 pounds or so. They call Mack “Blade” because he’s only 184 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame.
However, Mack, who returned to practice in the past week after being sidelined a month for arthroscopic knee surgery, does things that impress coaches.
Tech sophomore Summitt Hogue from Frenship and true freshman Collin Bowen from Randall recently were switched to the Raider outside linebacker position, Hogue from safety and Bowen from quarterback.
“I think it’s more the position for him, just athletic-wise,” co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Mike Smith said of Hogue. “He’s doing a good job. He’s a tough kid. I’d like to welcome him to the room because he plays hard.”
Hogue (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) has four tackles this season, one behind the line.
One side story to Texas Tech’s double-overtime victory last year against Kansas was then-coach Tommy Tuberville’s sideline blowup at a graduate assistant that netted him a reprimand from the Big 12 Conference.
Tuberville also was reprimanded by Tech, according to a document the Avalanche-Journal obtained in a recent open-records request.
In an angry outburst, Tuberville yanked the headset of Kevin Oliver, a graduate assistant still on the Tech staff, causing his cap and headset to come off.
Texas Tech defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt second-guessed himself this week, saying he didn’t rotate his linebackers and cornerbacks enough in last week’s 20-10 victory against TCU.
Starting cornerbacks Bruce Jones and Ola Falemi played all 82 defensive snaps.
Jones shrugged it off, with some bravado.
“We did that,” he said. “We’re cornerbacks. We can’t just tap our helmet (signal for a replacement) and come out. You’ve got to be conditioned. You’ve got to be ready to run all day.