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Red Raiders Offense and QB Donovan Smith Can't Overcome Slow Start in Loss to Wildcats

Donovan Smith and the Red Raiders offense couldn't recover from a sluggish start in their 37-28 loss at Kansas State.

Texas Tech's offense looked sluggish for most of the first half in their 38-27 loss at Kansas State on Saturday afternoon. Their first five drives ended in the following results: punt, turnover-on-downs, interception, fumble, punt. 

To their credit, the Red Raiders did string together ten points in the final five minutes of the half. But that 13-0 deficit they started with proved too much to overcome for Tech and quarterback Donovan Smith, who was more down than up in the contest.

Smith went 34-for-48 with 359 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a rushing score, but also gave up two interceptions and a fumble to the Wildcats' defense. Those turnovers end up being the difference in a game more often than not. In the final minutes of this contest, Tech had recovered an onside kick and was near the red zone when Smith threw his final pass of the game, which was picked off by Kansas State's Julius Brents.

There was some controversy on that play as a referee could clearly be heard blowing the play dead, but the call stood, despite Red Raiders coach Joey McGuire's vehement disagreement. At that point though, Tech was down nine with under two minutes. Even if they had scored, the Raiders would've needed yet another onside recovery or defensive stop to give themselves a chance. 

The game had been decided long before the play in question, and it ultimately comes down to K-State having won the turnover battle. There are those who will point to Texas Tech's defense, who gave up several incredibly long runs on the day, but they weren't given much to work with.

They spent most of the first half defending a short field and were gassed by the time the fourth quarter came around. The offense left them hanging out to dry for most of the game.

As for Smith, when he's hot, he's hot. But when he's off, the Red Raiders offense is dead in the water. He's only a sophomore and he's got a lot of growing up to do, but he's going to have to do it quickly as the road ahead isn't getting any easier.

The Red Raiders, who haven't won a road game yet this season, will travel to No. 9 Oklahoma State for another difficult conference challenge. The Cowboys will be the highest-ranked team that Tech's faced this year, so they're going to have a steep hill to climb if they want to secure their first road victory of the season in Stillwater, Okla. 

Smith and this offense have to get going faster while avoiding so many costly mistakes. Even one extra possession can make all the difference in a close contest. It's all part of the maturing process for Smith and Co. We'll see if they can take that next step this coming weekend against Oklahoma State.

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