As it turns out, the prescription for ending Texas Tech’s four-game winless skid was a twist on a familiar cure-all.
Take two Baylors and call the doctor in the morning.
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, there aren’t any other Baylors left on the schedule. In fact, it’s a CFP player, No. 6 TCU, that is next on the schedule, in Lubbock.
But on this Saturday, Tech and its coach – both desperately needing a victory – got exactly what they needed in relieving a month-long cold.
Tech didn’t exactly look like Johnny Lujack’s Notre Dame by comparison, but the Red Raiders were certainly better than the rebuilding Bears in a 38-24 victory at AT&T Stadium.
An announced crowd of 34,482 – a number that may have been produced by a crafty accountant – watched Tech improve to 5-5 and 2-5 in the Big 12. Baylor fell to 1-9 and 1-6.
The Red Raiders, who need a victory in one of its last two games to earn bowl eligibility, jumped out to a two-touchdown lead and managed to avoid what has become trademark second-half nose dives.
Keke Coutee opened the game with a 92-yard return on the opening kickoff, and Nic Shimonek had two touchdown passes, one of five yards to T.J. Vasher in the second quarter and another of 30 yards to Cameron Batson at the end of the third quarter.
The Red Raiders, better but still in the bottom half of the defense in the Big 12, scored 17 points off turnovers. Collecting four Bears turnovers masked giving up 537 yards, though that was “better” than the 634 surrendered last year in this game.
Even considering the obvious flaws in the defense, it’s the offense that most concerns coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Relative to their past and expectations, the offense has struggled recently. The unit wasn’t on full throttle Saturday, either, falling 169 yards short of its 506-yard average.
Inconsistency on offense is not a good prescription for TCU’s defense, which this season has really never appeared to be “still working through some things,” much less in Game 10.
“We’re still working through some things,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t think we’ve played out best football. We’ll keep working. We have two more opportunities to do that.
“We know we have to continue to get better. Both those teams [TCU and Texas the following week] are very good. But we like our team. We think we’ve had moments when we can play with anybody. We just need to get more consistent.”
Tech had to win this game, not only to get off the skid but to get into a better mind-set for the Frogs.
“I felt today we played one of our most complete games start to finish,” Shimonek said. “It’s a good confidence builder going into next week because we’ll have to be on our ‘A’ game.”
Whatever might be lacking in Kingsbury’s achievements at Tech – he is now 29-31 in his fifth season – his players haven’t quit on him, if Saturday is any indication. In fact, they might be rallying around him.
Shimonek, was 24 for 29 for 246 yards. He completed his first 10 passes, throwing underneath stuff that Baylor was content to give him. Big-play capability, however, continued to elude the Red Raiders.
And the defense showed resilience, twice spoiling Baylor drives deep into Red Raiders territory, including one inside the 5. Baylor left the ball at the 1 after turning it over on downs.
That alone is worth noting as Tech headed back to Lubbock still trying to crack its own codes. There never seems to be any problem getting up for TCU, no matter where the Frogs stand in the Big 12 or the CFP standings.
“We have two big games left, starting with TCU at home,” Coutee said. “We will be fired up for this game for sure. We’ll be fired up to play.”
TT—Coutee 92 kickoff return (Hatfield kick), 14:46
BAY—Holmes 4 pass from Brewer (C.Martin kick), 10:28
TT—King 1 run (Hatfield kick), 8:14
TT—Vasher 5 pass from Shimonek (Hatfield kick), 12:11
TT—FG Hatfield 39, 4:42
BAY—Stricklin 6 pass from Brewer (C.Martin kick), 1:08
TT—Batson 30 pass from Shimonek (Hatfield kick), :44
BAY—FG C.Martin 34, 7:57
TT—Coleman 31 fumble return (Hatfield kick), 5:25
BAY—Mims 3 pass from Brewer (C.Martin kick), 1:33
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Texas Tech, King 20-67, Nisby 4-18, Shorts 1-14, Felton 1-4, (Team) 1-(minus 1), Shimonek 3-(minus 11). Baylor, Hasty 13-73, Lovett 4-14, Brewer 9-12, T.Williams 3-7, Tecklenburg 0-0.
PASSING—Texas Tech, Shimonek 24-29-0-246. Baylor, Brewer 43-63-1-417.
RECEIVING—Texas Tech, Cantrell 11-94, Batson 4-50, Vasher 4-42, King 3-22, Coutee 2-38. Baylor, Mims 12-152, Hasty 9-51, Stricklin 8-99, B.Lynch 7-77, Nicholson 3-17, Holmes 3-16, Atkinson 1-5.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.