Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege is starting to enjoy his short memory.
Last year, Doege's interceptions would linger and affect his play. Not anymore. Just last week, he bounced back after throwing a pick that Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein took 87 yards for a touchdown.
Doege and the Red Raiders (4-0, 1-0) prevailed 24-13 despite giving up two interceptions to the Cyclones.
"It's just telling yourself that everything's going to be fine and that you've prepared well enough that if something like that happens, you can get right back on track within the next series," said Doege, a second-year starter who is averaging 297 yards passing per game. "It's just a whole mindset thing that I've become stronger in that area."
Texas Tech will try to remain unbeaten Saturday when they host No. 17 Oklahoma. The game against the Sooners (2-1, 0-1) is the first of five straight against ranked opponents for Texas Tech and its surprisingly stingy defense, best in the nation. After all, defense has often been an afterthought to the high-flying Texas Tech offenses over the years.
This has also helped Doege, who doesn't have to press to make things happen. If the team has to punt, Doege knows his teammates can get the ball back to the offense more readily than, say, last year. The Red Raiders finished last season at No. 117 in total defense and dead last against the run.
"He knew if we were going to win games, he was going to have to win it," Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We couldn't stop anybody. We couldn't run the ball because we lost our running backs, and he was going to have to have a 400- or 500-yard game to give us an opportunity."
Doege has completed 105 of 147 passes for 15 touchdowns and 1,189 yards this season. He also has three interceptions, two more than he had through four games a year ago. And so far, that's been OK.
"It's just the fact that we can lean on those guys," Doege said of his defense. "If we're not clicking on all cylinders early in the game, it's not going to be an uphill climb. We're still in the game. As soon as we start rolling, we'll take the lead and take the game. So it helps a lot."
Doege also realizes that a fast start offensively for the Red Raiders takes pressure off the defense.
"They can go out there and play how they need to play and not worry about creating turnovers or anything," he said. "They can just go play."
The season fell apart for the Red Raiders last year after they beat then-No. 3 Oklahoma 41-38 to snap the Sooners' 39-game win streak in Norman. Injuries to running backs and defensive players led to at least 16 surgeries and left the passing attack as the sole means Texas Tech had to stay in games.
This year, there are three running backs for Doege to use to set up the passing attack. Kenny Williams, Eric Stephens and SaDale Foster have a combined 753 yards on 122 carries. And the defense has allowed just 670 yards in four games.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose team has lost three straight games in Lubbock, knows Doege's now got a combination of factors working in favor of him improving his mental toughness.
"He's excellent," he said. "Of course, we know that from watching how well he threw the ball a year ago. You see all these games, he's having a great year, executing really well, throws a great ball."