ARLINGTON -- Turnovers, penalties and substandard special teams play. All three have been common themes for Texas Tech this season and all three showed up once again Saturday night in a 63-34 loss to No. 4 Baylor at AT&T Stadium.
Texas Tech persevered through those problems over lesser competition to a 7-0 start but against the top Big 12 teams, such as Baylor (9-0, 6-0 in the Big 12), they have proven insurmountable.
"I would say we kill ourselves a lot out there on the football field by penalties and turnovers and stuff like that and fumbles and letting the other team have opportunities to score. To be a good football team, you can't allow that to happen," said Texas Tech wide receiver Eric Ward, who caught a team-high eight passes for 82 yards and possibly the catch of the year on a one-handed scoring grab in the first quarter.
The Red Raiders (7-4, 4-4) turned the ball over three times Saturday, committed eight penalties for 93 yards and then there was the special teams. Tech's kick coverage unit struggled as Baylor's average starting field position was their own 36. Tech also allowed a 58-yard punt return touchdown and missed an extra point for the second time in as many weeks.
"Too many mistakes in all phases," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the game. "We're just not good on any side of the ball right now, and that's all me. We've got a bye week, and a big one down in Austin, and we have to get a lot better before we head down there."
The disturbing part is none of these problems have improved.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield, who made his first start since the Kansas game on Oct. 5, threw one interception and fumbled three times. Only one of Mayfield's fumbles were lost, so it could have been much worse. Junior running back Kenny Williams also lost a fumble, which made Tech minus two in the turnover differential.
"Just got to protect it if he wants to play," Kingsbury said. "Plays like that, [Mayfield] can't give the ball up. If he wants to be our quarterback, he can't do that."
Mayfield did look good in spurts, especially early as he led Tech to touchdowns on each of the first three drives. The freshman finished with 314 yards, four touchdowns passing and another 35 yards on the ground.
The Red Raiders couldn't keep up with Baylor due to miscues and turnovers as the Bears raced to a 35-27 lead by halftime and blew it open in the third quarter.
Baylor finished with 675 yards and rolled up 340 yards on the ground, 252 of which came after the break. Shock Linwood led the charge with 188 yards and a touchdown, but Devin Chafin gained 100 yards and scored twice. Quarterback Bryce Petty chipped in with 26 yards and a pair of scores.
"Now that I think about it, it just goes back to what's been happening these past few weeks. I mean we did a great job early and then early in the second half we didn't fit in our gaps," said Texas Tech linebacker Will Smith, who finished with 16 tackles -- the most by a Tech defender since 2005. "We have to get off blocks and finish our tackles. That's the main thing we're not finishing our tackles, we're not moving our feet. It's just a lot of things like that."
Petty also threw for 335 yards and three scores.
Perhaps none had a better night then Baylor receiver Levi Norwood. The junior hauled in seven passes for 156 yards, two touchdowns and returned a punt 58 yards to the house.
Despite all the problems and persistent mistakes throughout the current four-game losing streak, the Red Raiders will get an opportunity to salvage part of its season in the regular season finale on Thanksgiving against Texas in Austin.
"Yeah, we definitely need this bye week. I mean we didn't expect to lose four games in a row, but we do got a lot of guys banged up. Some guys are not even coming back, but, i mean, this bye should help us."
Same Mistakes, Same Result
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