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LUBBOCK (AP) – Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury isn’t taking Louisiana Tech lightly, knowing that the Bulldogs lost their last two games against Power 5 teams by a combined seven points.
The Red Raiders are coming off a dismal defensive performance in their 68-55 loss at Arizona State. They gave up eight TDs to Sun Devils running back Kalen Ballage, who tied the NCAA record for most scores in a game, and 652 yards of total offense.
The game Saturday night gives Texas Tech’s defense a shot at redemption.
“We’re disappointed in how we played defensively, but I believe in those guys,” Kingsbury said. “We got to improve it, no question.”
It was the third loss in its last 12 games when scoring at least 53 points.
The Bulldogs (1-1) beat South Carolina State 53-24, a week after falling 21-20 at now-No. 24 Arkansas. Last year, they lost 39-33 in triple overtime at Kansas State.
This Saturday night Louisiana Tech will need a “high level” of play to be competitive, Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz said.
“Hopefully, some of our younger players were able to cut their teeth at Arkansas on the road and that will help us a little bit where maybe we are not so big-eyed going into this stadium and playing this game,” he said.
The last time Texas Tech (1-1) lost two of its first three games was 1999.
A few more things to look for when Texas Tech hosts Louisiana Tech:
Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes could have trouble reaching the numbers he’s gotten in back-to-back games. The Bulldogs are giving up just 295 total yards (31st in the nation). Mahomes, who leads the nation in total offense (562 yards per game), tallied 540 total yards in the win over Stephen F. Austin and 584 in the loss at Arizona State. “They will change up looks pretty much week-to-week, and they play hard,” Kingsbury said. “They’re aggressive, they’re well coached and don’t make many mistakes.”
Texas Tech’s defense has struggled for years. The Red Raiders, who finished last season at 126th in the nation (547.7 yards per game), have moved up a little. They rank 117th now (511 ypg). In their win last week the Bulldogs amassed 727 total yards. “I think statistically you look at the game and it was impressive, but I did not think it was very clean,” Holtz said.
The Bulldogs offense could have an edge on understanding Texas Tech’s defense. Former Texas Tech cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis will be on the Louisiana Tech sideline in the same role. Curtis was fired from Texas Tech in November 2015 after working with defensive coordinator David Gibbs for a season and as the defense continued to struggle. He joined the Bulldogs staff in January.
Texas Tech has five receivers with more than 100 yards in catches through two games. The leader, Cameron Batson, has two TDs and 172 yards on 12 catches. “It’s something that he worked on all off-season and he took his game to the next level and it’s showing on the field,” Mahomes said.
Ryan Higgins returned last week after a one-game suspension for an off-season DWI and threw for four TDs and 409 yards. In his stead, freshman J’Mar Smith almost led the Bulldogs to a win over the Razorbacks in the season opener, when he completed 19 of 31 passes for 212 yards and a rushing touchdown. “One thing that jumped out to me was for a young kid how poised he was in that atmosphere,” Kingsbury said.
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