Texas Tech, BYU try to put bad losses behind them

Field Level Media

October 18, 2023 at 12:11 am.

Texas Tech heads west feeling desperation and uncertainty ahead of Saturday’s Big 12 road game against BYU in Provo, Utah.

BYU has its own sense of urgency after a humbling loss last week gave cause for concern.

The Red Raiders (3-4, 2-2 Big 12) and Cougars (4-2, 1-2) are coming off tough-to-digest losses, and the motivation to get back on track is strong for both.

In a 38-21 loss to Kansas State that snapped a modest two-game winning streak, Texas Tech had to contend with a mid-game shuffle at quarterback.

Due to a shoulder injury, Behren Morton was unable to return in the second half of what — at the time — was a competitive game against the Wildcats. The latest QB injury (pre-season starter Tyler Shough suffered a broken leg against West Virginia) thrust freshman Jake Strong into his college debut.

Strong showed flashes, including a 54-yard burst on an option keeper that supplied a large chunk of a 99-yard touchdown drive that put the Red Raiders in front 21-17. But he also threw three interceptions to help the Wildcats surge to the victory.

If Morton is unable to go — and Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire said Monday that will be a game-time decision — Strong will have the keys to an offense that has struggled to be consistent.

“The kid is young and was put in a tough situation coming in instead of starting the game,” McGuire said. “I thought he did some really good things. We have to find ways to allow him to get comfortable.”

That hasn’t been an issue for BYU with one of the more veteran quarterbacks in the league.

Kedon Slovis has been steady for the Cougars with 1,392 yards and 10 passing TDs, helping them play solid football until last week.

In a 44-11 blowout loss at TCU, they never really gained much traction and surrendered 584 yards — 447 through the air. The BYU offense managed a season-low 243 total yards.

“Sometimes you have to pivot and figure out other ways to do things,” coach Kalani Sitake said. “You just can’t keep doing the same things and expect the results to change. We definitely have to pivot and do some things.”