The Texas Tech offense’s preparation for Saturday's game agianst TCU comes with some guesswork, considering the Horned Frogs have lost eight projected defensive starters just since the beginning of the season.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury trusts TCU coach Gary Patterson’s reputation as a defensive whiz to still field a representative unit. He said not being certain of all the names and numbers on the other side isn’t a big factor in preparation.
Jalen Barnes is not currently practicing, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday, but remains on the team.
Kingsbury said Barnes and Derrick Dixon, both sophomore safeties, are dealing with “family issues,” but declined to elaborate. He said that’s why neither traveled for the Arkansas game last weekend.
Each played in the first two games, and Dixon has practiced this week.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that redshirting is a possibility for flanker Dylan Cantrell and cornerback Nigel Bethel II. Neither has played this season, Cantrell because of back issues and Bethel because of a hand injury.
“We don’t know what week would be the cutoff,” Kingsbury said, “but if neither one progressed like we’d like them to, that would definitely come into consideration.”
Cantrell’s issue was described as back spasms when he missed the season opener, and it appeared to be a short-term recovery at the time.
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.