Texas Tech was poor when it came to turnovers
Another factor that contributed to 2023's disappointment was the fact that Tech struggled with turnovers on both sides of the ball. The offense couldn't stop giving the ball away and the defense wasn't able to take it away with any consistency.
For the season, the Red Raiders were second to last in the Big 12 in turnover margin. Giving the ball away 0.46 times per game more than they took it away, they were second-worst in the conference (ahead of only TCU) and 110th in the nation.
Some teams are talented enough to overcome that type of turnover deficit. However, Tech wasn't to that point in 2023.
In the six losses last fall, Tech gave the ball away 16 times. That's an average of 2.66 per game.
For instance, in the loss to BYU, Tech gave the ball away five times with three of those being interceptions from the true freshman, Strong. The week prior, three more second-half INTs from Strong ended any hopes of upsetting Kansas State in Lubbock.
Meanwhile, in those same six losses, Tech generated only five takeaways. That included none against Oregon, K-State, or BYU.
Of course, Tech's stated goal is to generate three takeaways per game. However, that happened only twice this season, once against Cal in the Independence Bowl and once against FCS opponent Tarleton State.
It is no accident that three of the four playoff teams this season were all near the top of the NCAA in turnover margin. Michigan led the country at +1.27 per game on its way to the National Title. Alabama was 17th at +0.57. Texas was at No. 29 at +0.43 while Washington was No. 66 with an even margin.
Tech has to find a way to be better on both sides of the turnover equation in 2024 if significant strides are to be made in McGuire's third year. Turnovers swing close games and too often in 2023, they turned the tide against a Texas Tech team that struggled in that critical aspect of the game.