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Red Raiders vs. Kansas State Notebook: Tech's Defense Too Up & Down in Loss

The Texas Tech Red Raiders defense started slow and ended slow against the Kansas State Wildcats, but it was the performance in between that offers hope for improvement moving forward.

A battle between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and No. 25 Kansas State Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan. on Saturday featured two teams coming off their best wins of the season. Momentum was stacked on both sides.

But momentum favored the Wildcats and quarterback Adrian Martinez, who dominated the Red Raiders en route to a 37-28 win for Kansas State. Martinez finished with 12 rushes for 171 yards and three touchdowns while also going 12 of 19 passing for 116 yards and one touchdown. One could argue he was singlehandedly the reason that the Wildcats were able to overcome a double-digit comeback by Tech. 

The Red Raiders had some impressive highs and noticeable lows. Let's take a look at three takeaways from the loss. 

Defense stepped up after offensive mishaps, but fell apart

Kansas State got the ball to begin the game. And after scoring on back-to-back runs from Martinez, it seemed like it could be a long day for Tech's defense against a talented Wildcats rushing attack.

It turns out that first drive was somewhat of an outlier. The Red Raiders defense stepped after that despite the offense not doing them any favors on numerous possessions.

The fourth-down aggression from Tech coach Joey McGuire seemed to have carried over from the win over Texas. On the second possession for their own 34-yard line, the Red Raiders went for it on fourth-and-short and were stuffed. But the defense held up, surrendering just a.

Things on offense continued to spill downward. Smith tossed an interception on the next drive after his pass was tipped. But after that, the Red Raiders defense took over to get themselves back into the game.

From the beginning of the second quarter till midway through the third, the Wildcats failed to pick up a first down, as Tech had tied the game 13-13 after trailing 13-0 in the first half.

However, McGuire's offense failed to keep up momentum after finding the end zone in the third quarter to tied things at 20. A missed field goal, a failed fourth-down conversion, and another fumble all but doomed any chances Tech had at a win. 

Adrian Martinez kills Tech with boom-or-bust runs

The Tech defense deserves tons of credit for how it handled the threat of Martinez's legs following his two big runs on the first drive of the game.

But it was three runs in the first and fourth quarter that will create the illusion that the Red Raiders were gashed the entire game, when this simply wasn't the case.

Sure, Tech was definitely beat on two huge runs by Martinez of 57 and 69 yards, but these two plays accounted for 126 of his 171 rushing yards. 

A few more hats on hats from the Tech defense could have prevented the speedy Martinez from breaking through the open holes, but it's hard to take away what he was able to do Saturday.

Donovan Smith solid again, but turnovers too costly

Coming off a turnover-free game against Texas, Smith had three giveaways on Saturday. He still went 34 of 48 passing for 359 yards and two touchdowns while adding a rushing score, but the two interceptions and lost fumble might overshadow what was an overall solid day.

The first interception was tipped and hung in the air for the Wildcats to snag, but it the fumble and second pick in the fourth that killed any comeback chances. 

After a few games of a handful of turnovers, Smith seemed primed to be trending in a positive direction after the win over Texas. He took a bit of a step back in that regard on Saturday. 

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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