LUBBOCK (AP) - Kliff Kingsbury has insisted since taking over at Texas Tech that the Red Raiders will score points using whatever opponents give them.
Judging from the numbers, that means there will be plenty of passing when Texas State faces No. 25 Texas Tech on Saturday night.
The Bobcats have the best team in the country in stopping the run, allowing just 43 yards rushing in their two wins. Against the pass? Not so much. Texas State has allowed 279 yards passing per game.
“They’ve played some teams that throw it,” Kingsbury said. “But they do a good job schematically. It will be a great challenge for our young quarterback to see all those different looks. As far as emphasizing the run game, we’ll do what we (can) do to score points.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield will start for the Red Raiders (3-0). The freshman walk-on injured his left leg in the fourth quarter in the 20-10 win over TCU. His backup, Davis Webb, came in and threw a 19-yard pass to Bradley Marquez with under 4 minutes remaining to break a 10-all.
Texas State (2-0) is coming off an open week. Coach Dennis Franchione said the Bearcats defense is “almost the same” as TCU’s and for eight consecutive possessions the Horned Frogs held the Red Raiders to minus-11 yards.
“I think the biggest thing TCU did was make (Mayfield) move around in the pocket and throw off rhythm,” he said. “We’ll see where we match up with them. We’ve had two good games.”
Mayfield has thrown for eight touchdowns and 996 yards with three interceptions.
“It’s hard for any freshman to come in and do what he’s been able to,” said Franchione, adding that so much of a quarterback does is from decision-making ability.
Here are five things to watch when Texas State plays Texas Tech:
- RUSHING BOBCAT: Sophomore running back Chris Nutall was tough to stop in the Bobcats 28-3 win over Prairie View A&M two weeks. He had Texas State’s longest rush in two seasons when he ran 77 yards for his second touchdown in game. He’s got 169 yards on 18 carries for a per carry average of 9.4 yards for the season. As a team the Bobcats rushed for four touchdowns and 242 yards on 43 carries.
- RECEIVING RED RAIDERS: Led by 6-foot-5 tight end Jace Amaro four Red Raiders receivers have double digit receptions after three games. Amaro, Jakeem Grant, Bradley Marquez and Eric Ward each are averaging more than 10 yards per catch. As a team, Texas Tech is getting about 12 yards per catch. The Red Raiders passing offense is averaging 400 yards per game to rank No. 5 in the nation. “He has a good cast of receivers and linemen that are protecting him,” Franchione said of Mayfield.
- PLETHORA OF PENALTIES: The two schools ranked near the bottom in the nation in fewest penalty yards per game. Texas State sits at No. 108, with 17 penalties for 146 yards (73 yards per game) in the Bobcats’ two wins. Texas Tech is worse on average in its three wins. The Red Raiders are No. 120, having chalked up 28 penalties for 275 yards (91.67 ypg). When Kingsbury arrived in Lubbock, he harped on reducing penalties, and wants to cut the Red Raiders’ numbers in half, but is puzzled at how to do that. “I don’t have any answers for you right now,” he said. “We have to try something else.”
- TURNOVER TIME?: Texas Tech’s fortunes appear to be changing when it comes to getting the ball from opponents’ offenses. Last season the Red Raiders had only 11 turnovers. They are averaging one per game, getting two interceptions in the win over TCU. But the Red Raiders will face the No. 1 team in the nation in turnovers. The Bobcats have forced seven turnovers and committed just one for an average of plus-3 on the season.
- SPECIAL TEAMS: The Red Raiders have a better defense this season under their fifth defensive coordinator in five years. But Texas Tech’s special teams also look good. Junior placekicker Ryan Bustin has hit on five of six field goals attempts, the furthest a 43-yarder. And he hasn’t missed an extra point in 15 attempts (he’s flawless in his career — 74 PATs without a miss). Kramer Fyfe has forced 15 touchbacks and allowed only six returns off which opponents have gotten 112 yards total.
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