Defeating Arkansas, and specifically coach Bret Bielema, was a moment Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury obviously savored. No, rather, make that delighted in, as if he were enjoying the very best and finely prepared prime rib.
Kingsbury deflected every inquiry during Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call about his postgame comments Saturday, saying he had “moved on from that” and didn’t want to “revisit” it.
That’s because, he said, he was preparing for TCU and, he didn’t say, perhaps another get-even moment.
If Kingsbury had let simmer a comment made at the Texas High School Coaches Convention over the summer, how motivated are he and his team this week in preparing for TCU? These are the same Horned Frogs who delivered a beat-down in Fort Worth a year ago that included just about every indignity, save for peeling back toenails.
“I don’t think you forget losses like that,” Kingsbury said of TCU’s 82-27 victory. “As a player, I didn’t. I’m sure they haven’t forgotten.”
Texas Tech and No. 3 TCU are different teams playing under different circumstances this time around.
The Red Raiders are 3-0 after the upset at Arkansas, a signature triumph for Tech under Kingsburyfor a few different reasons, all equal in significance.
▪ Patrick Mahomes is unrecognizable from the freshman quarterback who played in his third college game against TCU in 2014. The sophomore, twice Big 12 player of the week this season, has become a difference-maker for the Red Raiders as a dual threat and leader of men.
“He plays with a certain spirit,” Kingsbury said. With him, the coach added, players think everything is possible.
“You can see they are inspired by some of the plays he makes,” such as following up an option pitch on Saturday by throwing his body into a block as if he were a fullback. “He definitely has a style of play our guys enjoy watching.”
▪ Improved play on a more experienced offensive line.
▪ Tech has tidied up, dramatically decreasing penalties and turnovers. The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 in fewest penalty yards per game and only Texas has as few as Tech’s 18 penalties through three games. Against the Razorbacks, Tech had four penalties for 31 yards. And they’re plus-5 in turnover margin.
“Penalty-wise it was the cleanest game in all three phases I’ve seen us play.”
Sooners’ weak link?
No. 15 Oklahoma is 3-0 despite a minus-4 in turnover margin, last in the Big 12.
The Sooners’ 52-38 victory over Tulsa was made closer by 14 points scored by the Hurricane off Oklahoma fumbles. Running back Samaje Perine fumbled at Tulsa’s 8-yard line and Joe Mixon coughed up another at the Tulsa 20 with the Sooners up 31-10 late in the second quarter.
“Our trend of fumbling is poor,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “We have control of that game, up 31-10, in the red zone, and we fumble it.
“We’ve got to take care of the football. When you have the football and get tackled, you got to finish with the football; there is no reason to fumble it.”
Players of the week
Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Trevone Boykin shared Big 12 offensive player of the week. Mayfield set a school single-game record for total offense with 572 yards and six touchdowns, including 487 yards passing and four passing scores. Boykin totaled 504 yards of offense and six touchdowns in TCU’s 56-37 victory against SMU.
Defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson of Texas Tech, who had a career-high 16 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, was selected defensive player of the week.
Kansas State place-kicker Jack Cantele, who hit all four of his field-goal tries, including a 44-yarder to send the Wildcats’ eventual 39-33 victory to a third OT, was selected special teams player of the week.