Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury sees plenty of confidence and swagger during practices. When it comes to game days, that bluster evaporates.
That could explain much of why the Red Raiders are sputtering, having lost three straight games after beating two teams in closer-than-expected wins to open the season.
"I would say the mental mistakes that show up in the games aren't made in practice," Kingsbury said. "I think there's a lot of nervous energy that's showing up. Fundamentals, techniques aren't translating from the practice field onto the game field."
There have been some "great moments" this season, he said Monday, but also times when his team has played like the "Bad News Bears."
Texas Tech hasn't lost three straight this early in a season since 1993. And a loss Saturday to West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) would be the first time since 1990 the Red Raiders have dropped their first three conference games.
Since winning seven straight to open last season and rising to No. 10, Texas Tech is 3-8, and the Red Raiders (2-3, 0-2) have lost seven straight Big 12 games.
Quarterback Davis Webb is on pace to surpass his interception mark from last year. He threw nine interceptions in 10 games while sharing starts with Baker Mayfield, who transferred to Oklahoma. Webb has thrown 10 in five games this season — four coming in a 45-13 loss at No. 17 Kansas State on Saturday.
"You can't continue to turn the ball over," offensive coordinator Eric Morris said. "(Webb's) got to learn from his mistakes and not repeat them."
The team is also committing oodles of penalties, having been flagged 55 times for 511 yards to rank near the bottom nationally
Webb believes in his talent and that of his receivers, but acknowledged he might be trying to do too much.
"I put too much pressure on myself when things aren't going right and guys aren't getting open as much as they usually do or we aren't running the ball as we usually do," said the sophomore who's thrown 1,603 yards and 16 touchdowns. "I put the pressure on myself and say, 'We've got to make a better play and force this,' instead of just calming down and let our guys make the plays."
Webb's backup is true freshman Patrick Mahomes. He played briefly after Webb went down with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter at Oklahoma State.
Kingsbury, who said he needs to call plays with which his offense is more comfortable, pointed to his team's overall youth and a lack of confidence.
"Haven't had a lot of confidence-building moments thus far in this season, and we need to build on some positives," he said. "And there haven't been a ton this year, to be honest."
Follow Betsy Blaney on Twitter: https://twitter.com/betsyblaney