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October 26, 2013

Notebook: Turnovers sink Tech

Kinsgbury proud of Webb, not of turnovers


After starting the season 7-0, the Red Raiders were handed their first loss of the season in Norman on Saturday night 38-30. Texas Tech got off to a slow start on offense, scoring only seven points in the first half.

Things got much better in the second half, however, as true freshman quarterback Davis Webb showed some moxie and maturity, finishing the game by going 33-53 for 385 yards passing, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was very happy with the way that his young quarterback played on the road in an extremely hostile environment.

"I was really proud of the way he played," he said. "He made some big time throws, had a rough start, but got rolling there after the first quarter."

"He's gotten better. He works at it. He's got a great mental approach. We haven't pulled anything off the playbook. We've got the whole thing in, and he's running with it. I just think that early on these games we've got to settle in quicker and go to the right place with the ball, but like I said, proud of the way he fought the whole game."

The Red Raiders had one final chance to score with a minute and 17 seconds left in the ball game, but an untimely sack stymied the young quarterback and the Tech offense. Kingsbury pulled the freshman to the side after the game to let him know that there was still a lot of ball left to be played this fall.

"I just said that it's all out in front of us. If we're going to win in, we would have to win the rest of the games anyway, win or lose this game. He'll keep getting better and keep fighting. His teammates lifted him up, and they made some big time plays for him."

Many will point to Tech's three offensive turnovers as the biggest reason why they lost the game on Saturday, with the first coming from a Webb interception at the one yard line on a deep throw to Bradley Marquez, the second with Jace Amaro fumbling when fighting forward for yards, and the third with a tipped ball landing in the hands of an OU defender on a big drive late in the game.

The first year head coach fully understands the consequences of those big turnovers, and he knew it would be hard to beat OU on the road that way.

"That's huge. You can't come into this stadium against this team with those coaches and those athletes and do that," he said. "And we knew that. We knew we couldn't have the turnovers, and we just didn't take care of business."

OU took a 21-7 lead early on in the third quarter, and it looked like Tech might be a bit overwhelmed. Kliff and Co. weren't going to go quietly into the night, as Tech rattled of 17 straight points in under 5 minutes, including a big surprise onside kick that lead to a score.

Kingsbury credited his seniors for the big, lead-gaining comeback, and he was proud of the way his seniors led the team back.

"That's the senior leadership. They've done a great job of buying in, and they stepped up and made plays, got us back in the game, and we just couldn't hold it up in the end. The turnovers really hurt, but I was proud of the leadership with those older guys."

Things didn't go well for the Red Raider defense in the second half, however. Tech allowed 277 yards rushing to the Sooners, and quarterback Blake Bell was able to find his rhythm against Tech, finishing the game going 14-22 for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

The Sooners were able to convert on key third downs in the second half, and Tech couldn't make OU one dimensional early on like they would have liked.

"Like I said, they're really good in the run game. They have been all year, and their quarterback is hard to get down, and I thought if we would get them off schedule and get ahead a little bit we could try and make them one dimensional, but they had a great plan, converted a bunch of third and longs, and did what they wanted to do, but he stepped up and made big throws on third and long all night."


Ward, offense will learn from mistakes


Senior wide receiver Eric Ward was able to have a big game in the loss to Oklahoma, catching nine balls for 106 yards and two touchdowns. The Wichita Falls native felt like Tech's offense missed out on some big opportunities at times during the game, and he feels the Red Raiders are a much better offense than they showed on Saturday.

"Yes sir, definitely. There was a lot of opportunities that we didn't execute on, and it was just a lack of execution on our part. We gave them a lot of opportunities to score, and they took advantage of it. I mean, we can do better on offense."

Ward caught two touchdowns on the night, including the first score of the game on a fake sweep play to Kenny Williams where Williams threw the TD to Ward. The other came on a double route, and both were key touchdowns in the game.

"It was a trick play, and I just act like I'm blocking the corner until he sees Kenny with the ball. He'll trigger to try and tackle Kenny, and I just slip off into the endzone, and it worked. The second one was a double move because the corner kept biting on the out route's we were running, and I just did a double move, and I was wide open as well."

As far as the loss goes, Ward is ready to learn from the game and move on to Oklahoma State.

"Yea, we live and we learn, and we learned from our mistakes today. We've just got to get better at executing the plays that we left out there on the field and just take it one day at a time, starting with practice on Monday."


Big fumble dampens Amaro's night


Statistically, Jace Amaro did not stray from his previous performances this season. Another game with eight catches and more than 100 yards are what Tech coaches and fans have come to expect from the junior tight end.

The only unexpected number fell under the fumbles category, and no one was more surprised by Amaro's mishap than the tight end himself.

"I've never fumbled in my life," he said. "I fumbled the first time ever in the biggest game I ever played. And that was a 14-point swing, 'cause they scored on that 75-yard bomb on the next play. I put a lot of that to myself, and I dropped the ball towards the end, and I know that may not have impacted the game, but for me, I just don't do those things, and I was just trying to get extra yards but it ended up hurting us more."

Despite the turnover, Amaro provided a big lift for the offense, coming up with first down catches and serving as an outlet when Webb was under pressure. The outcome of the game, Amaro said, was not ideal, but a matchup against Oklahoma State next week has attracted his focus.

"We came in here with a lot of confidence," he said. "I felt like we did a good job preparing well in practice. Like I said, we just had some turnovers that just killed us and penalties, and that's just something, the line's really young right now, with the freshman quarterback and the new staff, we've had more success than anyone could imagine this season, and I just feel like we've done a great job so far, but winning this game was our ultimate goal and we just have to get back on track next week."


Jackson thinks Tech let one get away


Branden Jackson finished with five tackles on the night, but his defense came up just short in the loss.

"We do feel like we let one get away," he said. "We feel like we didn't play our best game and we came up against a great opponent who was prepared and executed, and they outplayed us and outcoached us today."

A key element in the game was the 97-yard touchdown drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock and resulted in an Oklahoma touchdown. The Red Raiders, who have been dominant in third down defense up to this point in the season, could not seem to get off the field against a deadly Sooner rushing attack that accounted for 277 yards on the ground, many of which came on that pivotal drive.

"As a defense, we pride ourselves on winning third down," Jackson said. "That's what we call the money down, and today we didn't get paid. They converted a lot on that drive."

During that drive, Bell found his rhythm and never looked back.

"Bell looked good running the offense," Jackson said. "It kind of hurt us. It was a big time drive that we needed to get off the field, and we didn't get it done."


Porter feels defense will bounce back


With a game-high 13 tackles and a forced fumble to go with them, Tre Porter provided a solid effort in Saturday night's loss. The defense struggled for stretches during the game, but Porter said it was a learning experience.

"As a defense, I understand that we didn't do well today, but we still confident," he said. "We learned a lot about our defense today. We got to make plays when the ball comes to us, we got to do our jobs and assignments. We got to trust in the plan, pretty much."

The only way to get over the loss, Porter said, is to keep moving forward.

"Just move on to the next one," he said. "Just go, watch film tomorrow, see what you did wrong, correct it and make sure it doesn't happen again."


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