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Tech Football: No time to rest

Tech has first open week of the season

Posted: September 22, 2013 - 10:59pm  |  Updated: September 23, 2013 - 1:40am
Texas Tech's Bradley Marquez(4) celebrates his touchdown with Texas Tech's Davis Webb(7) during their game on Saturday in Lubbock. (Stephen Spillman/AJ Media)  Stephen Spillman/AJ Media
Stephen Spillman/AJ Media
Texas Tech's Bradley Marquez(4) celebrates his touchdown with Texas Tech's Davis Webb(7) during their game on Saturday in Lubbock. (Stephen Spillman/AJ Media)
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Texas Tech goes into its first open week of the season in a somewhat desirable position: Opponents have made Tech’s shortcomings clear in the first month, but they haven’t cost the Red Raiders a game yet.

After a 33-7 home victory Saturday against Texas State, Tech is 4-0 with a week it can devote to looking at its uncertain quarterback situation and the related issues of offensive line play with a punchless running game.

Tech doesn’t play again until Oct. 5 at Kansas, but this isn’t a week to take it easy.

“It’s huge,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to get better, especially with some young players at certain positions. We’ve got to use that to improve our team and keep it rolling.

“We’re excited to be 4-0 at this point. Especially with the last two weeks, not playing very well on offense, it says a lot about our team and the other sides of the ball rising up when we need them to.”

On Sunday, Tech moved up to No. 24 in The Associated Press Top 25 and moved into the USA Today coaches poll at No. 25. The constants so far have been a solid defense, one that ranks tied for 15th in the nation in scoring defense, and special teams play that’s included nine field goals from Ryan Bustin and good coverage units that have helped the defense with field position.

Another plus: Junior receivers Jace Amaro and Bradley Marquez are showing signs of breakout seasons, Amaro with team highs of 29 receptions for 367 yards and Marquez with a touchdown catch in every game so far.

However, Tech will arrive at October with its quarterback situation more uncertain perhaps that at any time since preseason practice started. The line between Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb has blurred with Mayfield throwing four interceptions the last two weeks and having fumbled four times in the first four games, though Tech has recovered all four.

Webb has been about as vulnerable to freshman mistakes, throwing two interceptions on Saturday, when he played 10 series to Mayfield’s five.

Publicly, Kingsbury hasn’t been particularly harsh on either, saying some errors come with the territory of playing true freshmen at quarterback. His biggest knock on both seems to be a tendency to bail from the pocket early and not protect the football.

Sophomore Michael Brewer is expected to return to practice during preparation for Kansas, though it remains to be seen how long he’ll need to get back in sync with the offense and be game ready.

Meanwhile, a run game that ranks No. 103 has done little to take pressure off the quarterbacks. On Saturday, Kingsbury seemed to put that struggle more on the offensive line.

“We had way too many times where we had (the) numbers (advantage) in the run game and weren’t able to produce the yards,” Kingsbury said. “And we’ve just got to keep getting better, because those backs are good players and a lot of times there’s nowhere to go.”

In week three, the defense stole the show in Tech’s 20-10 victory against TCU, playing well start to finish. On Saturday, the defense kept denying Texas State until the Tech offense got untracked in the second half.

There were four good examples in the first half alone.

Twice, the Red Raiders turned away the Bobcats in situations of first-and-goal from the 1. In the first instance, middle linebacker Sam Eguavoen dropped quarterback Tyler Arndt for a 2-yard loss, and then outside linebacker Pete Robertson intercepted a pass on the next play.

In the second first-and-goal situation, Tech turned away the Bobcats on downs with linebacker Will Smith leading the goal-line stand by getting in on three tackles in four plays.

A little earlier, Smith picked up a fumble that defensive tackle Kerry Hyder caused and ran it in for a touchdown.

And Texas State was also threatening late in the first quarter after a sudden change situation. But on first down from the Tech 26, cornerback Bruce Jones caused a fumble that linebacker Terrance Bullitt recovered.

Kingsbury was grateful for that. He took some of the blame for the offense’s slow start on himself.

“I think the defense played great again,” he said, “and I think offensively we had two turnovers and two fourth-down stops in the first half and just didn’t get a rhythm for the second week in a row. I’ve got to do a better job of game planning and getting those guys ready to go.”

 

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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A soft O-line

We are too soft up front, this is the worst o-line we've had in a while and it's because of Tubberville's recruiting. This will be THE reason we only win 7 games. We will continue to put our defense in bad situations and eventually we will suffer for it if these guys don't get tough minded. If we win 8 games it's because of our defense. Ironic isn't it, Tubberville was supposed to be the Defensive guru and we weren't that good. Now we have a real DC and we are in the top 25. Thank You defense!!!

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Our Season Depends...

on whether Brewer can get back to 90%. If he can, the only game left on the sked where we'll be a decided dog is at Norman. If he doesn't get healthy, we could be a 4-loss team.

Strange that THIS COULD BE THE YEAR.

Go Tech.

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Defense

Tech can not start a true freshman at free safety and be serious about winning the next 3 games. #20 (tanner)will be pretty good player in a couple of years but he missed tackles up the middle and that is Texas State. What happened to the personnel that played against TCU. We need Dennell back in the middle (310 lbs.) and Jackson Richards back at the D end. J Richards was getting beat up in the middle saturday. I wondering why JJ Gains did not play safety saturday. We must have the same D we had against TCU in order to continue to win.

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Defense

I feel pretty good leaving all defensive concerns with Coach W. This defense is playing better than I've seen in a long time. He'll play the best players available. If certain players aren't playing, there's a good reason for it.

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Defense

(OK)Understood, But I have been in the system. That has never been the issue with Tech defenses in the past (hope you are rights). Not coming from a fans perspective but from coaches who have been at tech. We will see how this plays out. I tell you one thing, the defense that played against TCU will have to be on the field our next three games(Those were the best players) Free safety is not a position for a true freshman in this league. Tape the Tech vs Texas state game and you look for yourself at the weak spots on the defense. Believe me they are there and this is Texas State they played (If I see them Kansas O coordinator see's them and everone else in Big 12). If the staff chooses to go this way, well Tech will do as always in the past 15 years, lose the 1 or 2 games they were suppose to win.

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@ rp70 - agreed that tuber only ...

... recruited one guy (Clark) to play o-line. the Facts R that Leach's recruits would be 4th and 5th year players, and there aren't any of those on the o-line either.

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