It won’t always be this easy for the Red Raiders, but games like their 20-10 victory over No. 24 TCU on Thursday night show that Texas Tech needs to be taken a little seriously this season. First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury is running a fast, quick-hitting offense that falls in line with the type of attacks we were used to seeing in the Big 12. With a freshman quarterback in Baker Mayfield, it’s only going to get better against teams with a bit more give defensively than the stout Horned Frogs, who held Mayfield to 216 yards through the air and forced three interceptions. TCU also knocked Mayfield out of the game and fellow freshman Davis Webb stepped up, completing three of his four passes for 77 yards and the go-ahead score.
Here are three quick takeaways -- aside from foxes and Hollywood Kliff -- to send you home from Tech's upset win.
• Red Raider D: Last year, Texas Tech gave up 50 or more points four times. The team allowed an average of 31.76 points per game and ranked 61st in defensive S&P. Through three games, the Red Raiders look like a completely different team.
They’ve given up just 46 total points in the first three contests, and TCU had 193 passing yards and at one point was just 1-of-11 on third down (it finished 4-of-16). While some of this might be due to competition -- SMU almost lost to Montana State last week and Stephen F. Austin lost to Weber State in its only other game – it’s a positive sign regardless. Trevone Boykin had some solid games as a freshman for TCU, and he looked lost against a Texas Tech defense that was practically daring him to beat it over the top.
• Penalties: It’s not going to be fun for both teams to run the film next week. They combined for 23 penalties, good for 205 yards, and many of the yellow flags came out on big plays that led to stalled drives. TCU’s offensive line was a noteworthy offender, especially in the first half when at one point the Horned Frogs were left with a first and 30. Not to mention that the refs were unfortunately a talking point -- ESPN's Jesse Palmer actually said "Where are we?" at one juncture -- botching reviews and generally calling a paranormal game.
It’s particularly tough for young quarterbacks like Boykin and Mayfield to get in a rhythm when they’re forced to march backwards ad nauseam. You don’t expect teams to play a perfect game, but you do hope whistles (and the officials in general) won’t have a definitive impact.
• Pachall on the sidelines: Coming into the season, TCU planned to start Casey Pachall and bring in Boykin in an NBA sixth-man, microwave type of role. But with Pachall out at least two months after breaking his nonthrowing arm, Boykin was thrust into the starter’s role, a position he established last year after Pachall was suspended.
Boykin has a lot of athletic talent, but he’s still raw, and he needs to learn when to stay in the pocket and when to tuck and run. There were multiple times on Thursday when Boykin choose poorly, including one instance when he slid before the first down and heard about it from coach Gary Patterson. If TCU is going to hang around in the Big 12, Boykin needs to focus his potential and engineer more sustained drives to give the Horned Frogs defense some rest.