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November 16, 2013

Notebook: Mistakes plague Tech again

Kingsbury says Tech must limit mistakes

The Red Raiders dropped their fourth game in a row on Saturday night, losing 34-63 to Baylor at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury gave the starting nod to freshman QB Baker Mayfield this week, and it looked like the right decision early on, as Tech got out to a 20-7 start in the first quarter.

It was a essentially all Baylor all night from then on out, as the Bears outscored Tech 56-14 in the rest of the contest.

Kliff felt that Mayfield had a good week of preparation leading up to the game, but the turnover bug caught up to the true frosh.

"Baker had a good week of practice, and I felt like he fought hard in the previous game, and just gotta protect the football better, but he's a fighter, and he kept us in it early, and he's just gotta learn from his mistakes."

Tech looked like they were going to play score-for-score with Baylor in the first quarter, but Art Briles' offense got hot, and Kingsbury's scoring unit went cold. Again, Kliff pointed to mistakes by all three units in the loss.

"I thought they had good energy early, but just faded as we got going. Too many mistakes in all phases. We're just not very good on any side of the ball right now, and that's on me. We've got a bye week and then a big one down in Austin, so we need to get a lot better before we head down there."

But, Kingsbury was also very complimentary of the Bryce Petty-led offense.

"We knew they were going to score. They've scored on everybody. It's a great offense. It really is. Their offensive line does a really good job. Their quarterback is really good, have receivers everywhere. We knew they'd score, we just had to limit them and limit our mistakes, and we didn't do that. We turned it over too many times."

Smith wants to see tackling improve

Inside linebacker Will Smith had 16 tackles on Saturday night against Baylor, a career high for the senior, and the most tackles by a Red Raider since Dwayne Slay had 18 against Baylor in 2005.

Smith was as sure handed of a tackler as he could be, but the former JUCO player felt that the team needed to do a better job of wrapping up as a whole.

"Honestly, it's just -- we're getting there, getting to the ball, physical, but we're not running our feet, not tackling them all the way to the ground," he said. "Against this level of competition, you've got to tackle them all the way to the ground."

Overall, Smith feels like Tech's woes can all be attributed to self-inflicted mistakes.

"These last couple of weeks, it's just been self-inflicted wounds, and we've just got to go into this bye week and look at the film, break it down, and just focus on everything that we need to. We can't keep beating ourselves, especially against the good teams that we play against in this conference. We can't keep beating ourselves. They're going to take advantage of those opportunities."

Ward shines in loss

One of the few bright spots in Tech's offense was senior receiver Eric Ward, who recorded a team-high seven receptions for 82 yards with a one-handed circus grab for a touchdown.

Ward said the one handed-effort was not for show.

"The reason I had to catch with one hand is the guy was holding, so that's the only option I had," he said. "I just did my job. The ball was in the air, I did the best I could to bring it down with the catch and it ended up being a touchdown."

Despite his performance, Ward was disappointed with the team's collective effort Saturday night.

"I just think we left a lot of opportunities on the field that we could have capitalized on," he said. "We put the ball on the ground too much, and we didn't play our best game today. That's very apparent."

Eguavoen wants teammates to just do their jobs

Sam Eguavoen was one of the many frustrated Red Raiders on the defensive side of the ball, and although he put together a solid performance with eight tackles and a forced fumble, the junior linebacker was upset with the number of missed opportunities to bring down Baylor players.

"That's our problem," he said. "Too many guys are worrying about being superman on the field. We've all just got to worry about our job and do what we're supposed to do."

Tech's defense has suffered its fair share of injuries, Eguavoen said, and the upcoming bye week may be just what the team needs to get back to full strength.

"We definitely need this bye week," he said. "We didn't expect to lose four games in a row, but we do got a lot of guys banged up. Some guys not even coming back, but, I mean, this bye week should help us."

Grant feels bye week is needed

Sophomore wide receiver Jakeem Grant continued to put on his show of speed, agility and jumping skills on his way to six receptions for 72 yards and a score.

Grant said he and the rest of the offense knew they had to put up points relentlessly if they wanted a shot at competing with the Baylor offense.

"We was basically just trying to match them," he said. "If they score, then we score. We knew that if we let them keep going, and scoring and scoring, that the game was going to get out of hand. The biggest thing was, if Baylor scores, and if we score, then we got to continue to score because with their offense, it's a possibility they might score."

The bye week is an opportunity for the Red Raiders to regroup, Grant said, and work on the small things to avoid another regular season-ending loss.

"Coming off a four-game losing streak, we really want to find out who we are," he said. "Do we really want to go out again with an 8-5 record, or do we want to show people that Texas Tech is not just the regular old Texas Tech from last year, and 'Oh, they just going to lose five games again, it's just a basic Texas Tech.' So we want to go out with this win, and also we want to take this bye week to gather and play as a unit and focus on the little things because if we focus on the little things, it'll all come together."

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