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October 12, 2013

Notebook: Overcoming mistakes

Kingsbury pleased with defense, Webb, not with special teams

It was a close one right down to the very end, but Texas Tech was able to pull off a 42-35 win over Iowa State to earn their sixth victory of the season, remaining undefeated. Special teams blunders and a bad interception by Davis Webb in the fourth quarter allowed the Cyclones to stay in the game, but a win is a win, as head coach Kliff Kingsbury would say.

"Yeah, I was just excited about the win. Anytime you lose a turnover battle 3-0 and pretty much get dominated on special teams and still win the game (by a touchdown), you have a chance to have a pretty good team. That was exciting , we found a way to win, but lots of areas to improve upon"

In fact, you could argue that the Red Raiders gift wrapped at least 14 points for Iowa State on special teams play, allowing a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a punt touched by one of the Red Raider players gave Iowa State the ball at the Tech 33.

Kingsbury wasn't very happy with the special teams play, and he knows it's an area that they'll have to get tightened up before going to West Virginia next weekend.

"It wasn't very good. Had the kickoff and had guys there to make plays and didn't make them. Then the short punt, we've got to be yelling, alert that in, and it bounced off (our player). So there are two touchdowns right there. I thought they did a good job on special teams. They had good schemes, good players, and beat us on special teams all day."

Kingsbury was, however, very happy with the way that Matt Wallerstedt's defense performed yet again. Tech held Iowa State to 5-18 on third down, and the defense was put into several bad situations yet again.

"They've been great at three-and-outs and have played really well. We had the kickoff return for a touchdown. We put them in a bad spot with that interception for a touchdown. Other than that, you look at the stats, and they had another tremendous day defensively."

Tech's offense also outpaced Iowa States by 355 yards, which is actually more yards than the Cyclones were even able to put up in the entire contest. Kingsbury was happy with the way that his offense moved the ball up and down the field, but he wants the offense to do a better job of capitalizing on good drives in the red zone.

"With that type of yardage difference, you need a bigger differential in points, and we didn't score. We had the one turnover in the redzone, missed a field goal when we should have scored a touchdown. We've got to continue to get better down there in the red zone and score points. IN this league you;ve got to be able to keep up, and field goals and turnovers aren't going to cut it."

True freshman QB Davis Webb made his first start of the season on Saturday, going 35-56 for 415 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and one INT. The head coach was very pleased with his young quarterback, saying that he did a much better job of letting the plays develop and stand strong in the pocket.

"He did a better job of taking what they gave him Once we watch film and go over some stuff, he's going to see some stuff he missed, But really proud of his poise, and like I said, the game got close. If you get within one touchdown, he'd have a big drove, and that's what you want in your quarterback."

Penalties also saw a huge improvement, as Tech committed only four for 30 yards. Kingsbury has stressed the importance of cutting down on penalties all year long, and it looks like his players may have finally gotten the message.

"That's good. we're heading in the right direction. That's been the problem around here. We've talked about it, addressed it, so we've to continue to work on that. But, that's a good start."

Hyder liked performance, still sees room for improvement

Senior defensive end Kerry Hyder had another great day, finishing the afternoon with nine total tackles, eight of them being solo, and one and a half tackles for a loss. The veteran defensive leader was happy with the way his defense played, once again, but he thinks they can still get better.

"We played really well, but we still have some room for improvement, especially in the red zone. We stopped and got a field goal in the red zone, so we have some work to do in that area this week."

As previously stated, Tech was fantastic on third down against Paul Rhoads' offense, and there's a reason for that, according to Hyder.

"We call that the money down. We're always trying to get off the field on third down. When third down comes up, we're trying to get off the field and get the ball back to the offense."

A lot of Tech's success had to do with the way they dominated the line of scrimmage. Hyder felt that the Red Raider front did what they wanted all day, but he wished they had been able to get some more sacks.

"Yeah, I think we did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage. Again, we've still got some room for improvement. We didn't get enough sacks, we feel like. We're trying to get back to work, and we'll do more next week."

At one point, it looked like linebacker Sam Eguavoen had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, but the play was called back as an incomplete pass. Hyder said that the defense knew that they had to get back out there and stop Iowa State, and the entire defense was ready to roll.

"That's really our make-up. We go out there, and we play defense. Something bad happens, let it go. Play the next play. We thought we had a touchdown. We've got another opportunity to get a touchdown once we get back on the field."

Amaro sets new single game reception, yardage marks

Tight end Jace Amaro recorded game highs in receptions (9) and yards (143) but failed to find the end zone in Tech's win. The junior tight end was not concerned with his lack of numbers in the touchdown column as long as the team came away with the win.

"When we're down there in the red zone, they're playing in and out coverage, not letting me go anywhere, basically," he said. "If that's the way it's going to be, that's fine. I know that my other receivers and running backs are going to step up and when they do, they're going to have to pick their poison in who they want to guard."

Amaro also was a big factor in Tech's successful running game, creating lanes on the outside for the running backs, resulting in the best collective effort between Kenny Williams, DeAndre Washington and SaDale Foster up to this point in the season. Amaro said he takes pride in providing those backs room to run.

"For me, I plan on making every single block," he said. "I'm a big part of the run game and they really drive on me making all those blocks. I think that's probably my biggest aspect of playing out here is all the blocking that I can do."

Jackson says competitiveness key to success

Part of the reason behind the defense's success so far this season, according to outside linebacker Branden Jackson, is the level of competition among all the players on the defense.

"No one wants to be second-best," he said. "So, the competitiveness in that room is ridiculous. If you ever waited in on our meetings, you would see that everyone wants to do good every week. It's a competition and that allows us to play great."

Jackson, who recorded five tackles, two and a half for a loss with one sack, was all over the field on third down, making plays and disrupting Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson every chance he got. Collectively, Tech limited Iowa State to just 5-18 on third downs, or, as the players call it, the "money down."

"Who doesn't love money?" Jackson said. "We get paid as in getting off the field. Every time we get off the field, that's a paycheck. Every time we get a paycheck, it's another opportunity the defense has to deal with our explosive offense. Going against them in practice, I know that's not something you want to do."

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