Mistake-prone Texas Tech hosts high-scoring Tarleton State

Texas Tech's quarterback Tyler Shough (12) scores a touchdown against Oregon in a non-conference football game, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Texas Tech’s best-laid plans for 2023 already have suffered two major dents, making Saturday’s game against FCS opponent Tarleton State a little more important.

The Red Raiders (0-2) are off to their worst start since 1990 following a gut-punch loss to then-No. 13 Oregon last week in a game that went down to the final minute.

For a Texas Tech team that drew some attention as a potential Big 12 Conference contender — still an attainable goal — this wasn’t the script, and it makes it a vital matchup with the visiting Texans in Lubbock.

“This is not the time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Red Raiders coach Joey McGuire said Monday at his weekly media session. “This is the time to correct what we can control and get a win.”

That stage seems to be set against a smaller in-state opponent, but McGuire also said his team can’t take Tarleton State for granted.

The Texans (2-0) have scored 52 points in each of their wins against fellow FCS foes McNeese State and North Alabama and are churning out an average of 517.5 yards a game. Victor Gabalis, a transfer from Washington State and Utah Tech, has thrown for 645 yards and seven touchdowns. Derrel Kelley leads the rushing attack with 192 yards.

“They’re really hot right now on offense,” McGuire said “They’ve got a new (offensive coordinator) and have scored 50 points in their first two games and have a lot of confidence coming in.”

Texas Tech’s offense shouldn’t have a major problem matching Tarleton, but the challenge will be to eliminate turnovers.

Last week, the Red Raiders carved out 456 yards against Oregon and pieced together touchdown drives of 13 and 17 plays to show a knack for controlling the clock when necessary. Quarterback Tyler Shough has big stats in games against Wyoming and Oregon but has lost five turnovers — four last week in a narrow 38-30 setback against the Ducks.

The Red Raiders have owned two-score leads in the second half of each of their losses, but giveaways have opened the door for opponents to rally.

“The answer is to eliminate bad football and play better football across the board, and that’s what we’re going to push for this week,” McGuire said.

“The big thing this week is just get a win. … It just goes back to playing a clean football game and building on that.”

–Field Level Media

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