INSIDE SLANT: Texas Tech

Texas Tech finds itself in a tough spot after a disappointing 34-17 loss to No. 18 Oklahoma State on Saturday and two consecutive road games staring it in the face.

INSIDE SLANT

It's the midway point of the season, and Texas Tech followers are not only grumbling about the sad state of their favorite team, they're also wondering if the Red Raiders will have enough in the second half of the season to qualify for a bowl game.

In a development no one saw coming, the Red Raiders are just 3-3 on the season and 1-3 in the Big 12 Conference after Saturday's 34-17 home loss to Oklahoma State. This isn't exactly what first-year coach Tommy Tuberville wanted on his resume when he became Tech's coach last January.

Once again, the Raiders had a sluggish start and spent the rest of the game playing catch-up after falling behind 21-0 late in the first period.

"We got beat by a good football team," Tuberville said. "As I told our team, we had no answer early.

"We just dug ourselves a hole. We fought back, which we always do, and seems like we run up against a wall."

Simply put, for some odd reason, the Raiders just didn't seem as if they were ready to play.

Running back Kendall Hunter completed Oklahoma State's five-play, 61-yard drive that consumed only 1:40 with a 15-yard scamper that put the Cowboys ahead 7-0. A little  more than two minutes later, Joseph Randle motored in from the 4 for a 14-0 lead.

The Cowboys' lead ballooned to 21-0 when third-string running back Jeremy Smith blasted into the end zone from the 4 after the Cowboys moved 82 yards in eight plays.

Meanwhile, in what is believed to be a school record, Tech punted an unheard of five times in the first quarter. This from a team that rarely punted that many times in an entire game under former coach Mike Leach.

"We definitely didn't believe we'd be 3-3 at this point," said running back Eric Stephens, who rushed 15 times for a career-high 99 yards. "But we have to take it, learn from it and move on to (this week's game against) Colorado."

Tech's defense once again looked as if it has an open-door policy. The Raiders open the door, and the opposing teams get what they want.

Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 24 of 35 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon caught 10 passes for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown, and Hunter rushed 25 times for 130 yards and a touchdown.

The Cowboys finished with 581 total yards while leaving the Tech defenders searching for answers.

On the flip side, Oklahoma State beat up Tech quarterback Taylor Potts so badly that the Raiders called timeout at one point so they could check him out. After the game, Potts was rushed to a local hospital when it was feared he suffered a concussion.

However, following tests and X-rays, it was determined that Potts suffered a sprained jaw.

Afterward, the Raiders were, as expected, frustrated with their current state of affairs. When Leach was fired and Tuberville was hired, who knew 3-3 was on the horizon?

"These kids are disappointed," Tuberville said. "We're 3-3 after the midway point. We could have won another game or two. It looked like we played a little tight."

NOTES, QUOTES

— LB Bront Bird had his first career interception, and D.J. Johnson picked up his second interception of the season. Those were the first takeaways for the Tech defense since the third game of the season against Texas. Tech had 11 takeaways the first three games and none in the next two against Iowa State and Baylor before forcing those two against Oklahoma State. Bird also contributed a team-high 14 tackles, including 13 solo tackles.

— S Cody Davis had nine tackles and one breakup. Unfortunately, he needed at least two breakups. OSU wide receiver Justin Blackmon turned a simple sideline pass into a 62-yard TD when Davis gambled on the play. Davis dove in front of the Tech bench to try to knock the ball down, but he missed.

— Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. Former USC wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson was the last Tech opponent to eclipse 200 receiving yards against the Raiders when he performed that trick in the 1995 Cotton Bowl.

— Freshman CB Tre' Porter continues to be a bright spot for the Raiders. Against Oklahoma State, Porter finished with eight tackles and also broke up one pass play.

— The Cowboys had seven plays that went for 20 yards or more. They also had another 17 plays that covered 10-19 yards.

— LB Sam Fehoko ended an Oklahoma State drive early in the second period when he collected his first career sack.

— This was Oklahoma State's first victory in Lubbock since 1944. The Cowboys are now 1-9-2 in Lubbock during that span.

GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Eric Stephens — Stephens rushed 15 times for a career-high 99 yards, caught four passes for 24 yards and returned three kickoffs for 77 yards while finishing the game with 200 all-purpose yards.

KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Cornelius Douglas — The Tech coaches have always praised Douglas, and the sophomore showed why. Douglas had four receptions for 53 yards, and he scored his first career touchdown when he hauled in a 28-yarder which got Tech within 21-14 with 5:54 left in the first half.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel like overall we fought hard, we played tough. But it's just some mistakes that really cost us and gave (Oklahoma State) some big plays that hurt us." — Texas Tech cornerback D.J. Johnson

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: After struggling with their running game earlier this season, the Raiders rushed 38 times for 175 yards. Starting RB Baron Batch had 83 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and his backup, Eric Stephens, added a career-high 99 yards on 15 carries.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Tech's defense has taken a thorough beat-down lately. In the past three weeks, the Raiders have given up 52 points and 441 and 52 points to Iowa State, 507 yards and 38 points to Baylor, and 34 points and 581 yards to Oklahoma State.

ROSTER REPORT

DE Kerry Hyder (hamstring) did not return after the first series against Oklahoma State and will be out for a month.

— DL Chris Perry left the game and did not return after breaking his left hand.

WR Austin Zouzalik left the game with a lower leg injury and did not return. Tuberville said he will be out for "some time."

S Franklin Mitchem (ankle/knee) did not play.

DE Aundrey Barr (knee-MCL) is out for the season.

CB Will Ford was unable to play due to a pulled hamstring.


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