Texas Tech hosts No. 15 Oklahoma State on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury had his weekly press conference Tuesday in advance of the game. Here are five takeaways from his comments:
Slowing down Oklahoma State is a challenge
Texas Tech did an excellent job slowing down Houston on the road last weekend. But Oklahoma State is not Houston. The Cowboys have a top-tier quarterback in Mason Rudolph and weapons all over the field, like James Washington. Oklahoma State is No. 4 in the country in total offense while Texas Tech is No. 3.
“I don’t think anyone’s figured that out yet,” Kingsbury said on stopping the Cowboys. “That’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country. [James] Washington is as good as anybody in the country. There [are] four or five of them that could play for anybody.”
What TCU did to beat Oklahoma State
TCU beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week, knocking them out of the AP top 10. The Cowboys still came up with 499 total yards of offense, but TCU forced four turnovers which was the difference in the game.
“I think they turned them over,” Kingsbury said. “You’re not going to stop these guys, you gotta find a way to turn the ball over somehow and that’s what they did. Gary [Patterson] always has a good plan but I felt like that was the key was turnovers and winning that battle.”
Texas Tech came up with five turnovers against Houston and will need a similar effort against the Cowboys.
With All-Big 12 kicker Clayton Hatfield still out, Texas Tech relied on freshman Michael Ewton and junior Michael Barden. Ewton made just one of his three kicks against Houston while Barden knocked in his only attempt of the game. Kingsbury would not tip his hand on what kicker he will use against Oklahoma State if Hatfield is still hurt.
“That’s a great question,” Kingsbury said. “You’ll have to watch on Saturday.”
As far as Hatfield goes, his status is still up in the air.
“I’ll just say day-to-day and we’ll kinda go from there,” Kingsbury said.
Leads slipping away
Against Arizona State and Houston, Texas Tech has held double-digit leads but gone on to win by slim margins. Kingsbury said the team has been focusing on putting teams away when they have a chance. The Red Raiders can’t afford to let a high-powered opponent like Oklahoma State back in a game if they have the chance to put them away.
“I feel like in both of those games there were moments we either had the ball going in or had something happen that we could’ve really extended our lead and put pressure on them and we didn’t get it done,” Kingsbury said. “And that’s something we gotta work on. When you have a chance to put teams away, you gotta put them away, but at the same time it provided an opportunity for us to learn how to close out a game in a tight situation.”
Points off turnovers
The positives for Texas Tech is it created five turnovers against Houston and is currently No. 2 in the country in turnover margin. The bad news is the Red Raiders only scored three points off those five turnovers. Kingsbury knows that won’t work during Big 12 play.
“That’s something we gotta improve upon,” Kingsbury said. “When they rise up like that and get us the ball, we gotta take advantage of it. We’ve been talking about that this week.”
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