LUBBOCK -- Well-documented change in the football program has run a mostly unpopular course at Texas Tech in recent years.
A welcome change, however, is a 3-0 start, backed by familiar good quarterback play, balanced by an unfamiliar running attack and a defense not seen in this neck of the woods since who-knows-when -- all of which have West Texans full of confidence that a football renaissance is under way on the South Plains.
Whether that all translates into making Tech the surprise of the Big 12 Conference, only time will tell.
But on Saturday, quarterback Seth Doege, protected by a physical offensive line, looked every bit as good as his prolific predecessors at the position, picking apart New Mexico on 27-of-35 passing for 340 yards and a career-high six touchdown throws in a little more than a half in a 49-14 victory at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Doege threw touchdowns to three receivers, including three to Eric Ward, as Tech amassed 702 total yards, including 325 rushing -- led by Mansfield product Eric Stephens' 118 on 12 carries -- and the defense held New Mexico's ball-control offense to 127 yards and one offensive touchdown.
"He's a guy that has taken charge of the offense," coach Tommy Tuberville said of Doege. "We'll continue on and try to improve what we're doing. The big thing is continuing to be physical.
"We know and understand ... what we've got to expect in front of us."
In front of the Red Raiders is an open date next week followed by the beginning of conference play, nine straight weeks of stepped-up competition, starting with a road game at Iowa State -- which drummed Tech in Lubbock a year ago -- and No. 5 Oklahoma at home.
Tech's offense has been good. The Red Raiders on Saturday punted for only the second time this season, but the defensive play has been among the most pleasant surprises.
A year after finishing among the worst in the nation at 114th in total defense, the Red Raiders entered Saturday ranked fourth nationally.
A Lobos' 17-play, 79-yard drive that used up 7:41 in the first half was the unit's only slip.
Chase Clayton accounted for New Mexico's other touchdown, a 98-yard kickoff return in the first half.
"It's so different from last year because we have so much confidence in our defense," Doege said. "They give us the ball and opportunities to make plays."
Offensively, Doege had his pick of the litter.
He threw at will to any receiver he wanted, eight in all.
Doege has been the beneficiary of a deep receiving corps. Tight end Jace Amaro had two touchdown catches, and Darrin Moore caught another.
Stephens, who has continued to look strong in returning from knee surgery that cost him most of last season, represented Tech's sixth touchdown with a 21-yard dash to the end zone in the middle of the first quarter.
"We do have a lot of depth," said Doege, who became the ninth Tech quarterback to pass for 5,000 career yards with a reception to Bradley Marquez. "It's a challenge for those guys not to get frustrated because we do have so many guys."