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Red Raiders Joey McGuire Says Team Needs 'Play Better Early On The Road'

Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire says he's proud of his team's effort, but that the Red Raiders need to get started faster, especially on the road.

It's no secret that games are largely won and lost in the fourth quarter, but a slow start can come back to haunt even the best teams in a tight contest. That's exactly what happened to Texas Tech against Kansas State on Saturday, as the Wildcats jumped out to a 13-0 lead over Tech early in the game.

The Red Raiders' offense couldn't get anything going for most of the first half. Their first five drives ended in either punts or turnovers and sophomore quarterback Donovan Smith looked all but lost on the field. Tech did recover, as did Smith, who led a comeback, but ultimately ran out of gas in the end. 

It's the second time that the Red Raiders have gotten out to a slow start in a road game. They put forth a similar performance against NC State two weeks prior, starting behind a 20-0 deficit. These early game holes are difficult, if not impossible, for a team to dig itself out of and head coach Joey McGuire knows it.

"We've gotta find a way to play better on the road, play better early on the road," said McGuire in the post-game conference. "This is the second time. North Carolina State was the same way, where we got behind and the guys fought back...We've just gotta do a better job of playing cleaner early on the road."

With a first-time head coach and young quarterback, road games in the Big 12 can be a difficult environment to navigate. McGuire recognizes that and thinks that getting back to football basics could be the key to firing up the offensive engine early. The Red Raiders really got things moving once they started effectively running the ball and keeping the ball on the ground on first down looks like one way they could kickstart this unit. 

"Probably running the football a little bit more early," replied McGuire when asked how he thought they could get the offense going more quickly. "This offense, you'll get in 2nd and 8, we're gonna keep moving. Whenever you get into second-and-ten, second-and-twelve ... we can't get in those long [situations]. "

The Red Raiders finished with just 114 rushing yards, and most of those came either at the end of the first half or into the second. They'll need to lean on veteran ball carriers like Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson, as well as their swift-footed quarterback Smith, to use their legs and give Tech some more manageable down-and-distances.

McGuire and his squad are still winless on the road this year, but they'll get another crack at their first away victory this coming weekend against Oklahoma State. Tech will need to figure out how to juice up their offense early if they want to take down the No. 9 Cowboys. It will be the most difficult test that the Red Raiders have faced in the McGuire era, and a win against another Big 12 powerhouse could give them some real momentum going into the heart of the season. 

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