LUBBOCK, Texas -- Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman wasn't happy about several errant passes in a sluggish showing against outmanned UTEP, including a bad overthrow to a wide open receiver that forced a punt.
The sophomore also saw the bright side to having to leave the field: The Texas Tech defense would be coming back out.
Bowman threw three touchdown passes, two to T.J. Vasher, and the Red Raiders rode another strong defensive performance under first-year coach Matt Wells to a 38-3 victory over the Miners on Saturday night.
The Red Raiders allowed just 131 yards total offense for UTEP (1-1), the fewest they had given up since setting the school record by limiting Northwestern State of the FCS to 84 yards in the 2012 opener. It was Texas Tech's eighth straight win against UTEP, going back to 1963.
"Obviously we never want to punt but to walk off the field and know, probably like they are not going to score, they are definitely not going to score," Bowman said.
"For them to have our back like that on offense just makes it more of, `OK, we can try to make this throw because we know they are going to the field and they are going to make a stop in the next possession.' So it definitely opens up a lot more for us and gives us a little bit more confidence."
Texas Tech (2-0) cruised despite a slow start from Bowman's unit a week after he had the most yards passing in the nation. The sophomore was 30 of 45 with an interception for 260 yards after throwing for 436 yards in a 45-10 win over FCS team Montana State in Wells' debut.
Vasher had team highs of six catches and 78 yards, with a 13-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead and a punctuating 30-yarder over the shoulder as he crossed the goal line for a 31-0 lead late in the third quarter.
Dalton Rigdon took a screen pass 49 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, while Armand Shyne and Ta'Zhawn Henry each had a touchdown rushing. The Red Raiders rushed for 160 yards a week after getting their most on the ground in a season opener since 2000 with 255.
The Miners changed quarterbacks at halftime, replacing Brandon Jones with Kai Locksley. But it didn't make much difference. Jones was 4 of 12 for 21 yards with minus-1 yard rushing, and Locksley finished 3 of 7 for 33 yards with 21 yards on the ground.
UTEP avoided getting shut out for the third time in 14 games under coach Dana Dimel on Gavin Baechle's 45-yard field goal with 5:32 remaining.
"I'm really proud of our defense," Wells said. "Wish we could have got a shutout. I'm not sure we didn't coach a little harder on the last two series."
UTEP: The Miners have to feel a little better about themselves a week after barely winning at home against Houston Baptist, an FCS school with just one victory each of the past two seasons. The defense kept Bowman from getting too comfortable and frustrated the Texas Tech offense at times.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders figure to be way higher in the NCAA's defensive rankings than they're used to after giving up an average 210 yards through two games. But they're still looking to force their first turnover after what would have been an interception return for a touchdown by Zech McPhearson in the fourth quarter was negated by an offside penalty.
"We're going to continue to coach it, continue to demand it," Wells said. "The takeaways will come. We'll get them. When they come, they will come in bunches."
PACE OF PLAY
The Red Raiders backtracked offensively with just 78 plays for 424 yards after saying they wanted to speed things up from the 95 plays for 691 yards they had against Montana State. But that didn't mean Bowman was disappointed with the pacing.
While there were several plays when Texas Tech didn't snap the ball until the waning seconds of the 40-second play clock, the Red Raiders opened with a 50-yard scoring drive that included nine plays in just 137 seconds.
"The first drive was the fastest we've ever gone," Bowman said. "I think we were snapping it with 33, 32, 31 seconds on the clock."
UTEP: Nevada at home Sept. 21.
Texas Tech: Visits Arizona next Saturday in the first meeting between the schools in 30 years. They were in the Border Conference together from 1932-55.
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