Quarterback Baker Mayfield was back at practice Tuesday, 10 days after he suffered a knee injury in Texas Tech’s 54-16 victory at Kansas. Mayfield was in full pads with the rest of the quarterbacks when media were allowed in to do post-practice interviews.
There was no indication of how much he participated or whether he can play in this week’s game at West Virginia.
Texas Tech went to work this week trying to improve its special teams — an area that was a strength through five games, but sprang all sorts of leaks Saturday. Tech’s 42-35 win over Iowa State was made unnecessarily closer, largely because of special teams breakdowns. The Red Raiders allowed a kickoff-return touchdown, a turnover when a punt hit a return-team member, missed a field goal and had trouble fielding punts.
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro couldn’t have had a much better day last year against West Virginia — nor could he have had a much worse day. Amaro caught five passes for what remains his career high, 156 yards, and a touchdown, but he took a shot to the midsection that sidelined him for the last six regular-season games.
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.