It didn’t start well, but the 20th ranked Red Raiders handled their business against a very much improved Jayhawks squad today in Lawrence. After going down 10-0 in the first quarter, Texas Tech rattled off 54-straight points to put Kansas away and improve to 2-0 in Big 12 play.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield, making his fifth start of the year, struggled early. After leading first-possession scoring drives in each the first four games of the year, he threw an interception to linebacker Ben Heeney on 3rd-and-8, which Kansas converted into three points to be the first team to lead Tech this season. After another stalled Red Raider drive, Kansas would score again to take a 10-0 into the second quarter.
From there, it was all Red Raiders, kick started by a Ryan Bustin field-goal and a 19-yard Mayfield touchdown run. Mayfield left the game with a right knee injury at the end of the third quarter, but not before completing 33 of 51 passes for 368 yards. That rushing touchdown was his only score of the day. Davis Webb replaced Mayfield in the fourth quarter, throwing for 36 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the day was the return of the Texas Tech running game. All backs combined for 114 yards on 43 carries and four touchdowns, led by Kenny Williams with 42 yards and one touchdown. Tech’s first scoring drive featured eight consecutive running plays for 61 yards.
The Texas Tech starting defense didn’t yield a single point the rest of the way after giving up 10 in the first quarter. Instead, they forced an interception and three fumbles, and recorded three sacks to help the offense keep scoring.
Baker Mayfield: 33-51, 368 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, one touchdown.
Eric Ward: seven receptions, 122 yards, one touchdown.
Jace Amaro: nine receptions, 96 yards.
Jakeem Grant: seven receptions, 92 yards.
Will Smith: six tackles, one sack.
I was happy to see the offensive line protect the quarterback so well and get a great push in the running game. I still don’t understand why Mayfield is the starter, especially when he’s giving the ball away, throwing it too high and not recognizing blitzes. He really started feeling it in the second half before getting hurt, but ultimately we’re all waiting for Michael Brewer to get back in the saddle.
The defense’s only weakness is at safety. When senior Tre Porter came out of the game for one play, Kansas went after redshirt freshman backup Keenon Ward for an easy touchdown pass. Bruce Jones and Ola Falemi, largely untested thusfar, look like All-Big 12 cornerbacks the way they’re playing. Kansas threw the ball 35 times, but was only successful for one quarter and Jones/Falemi never gave up a big play or touchdown.
Special teams looked shaky for the first time this season, giving up 185 return yards on kickoffs. SaDale Foster looks like a home run hitter, but his ball security is suspect.