FAYETTEVILLE — Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t been thrilled with his team’s performance to start the 2014 season.

FAYETTEVILLE — Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t been thrilled with his team’s performance to start the 2014 season.


The high-powered offense has sputtered on occasions. The defense has struggled to stop opponents. But there’s something Kingsbury has applauded his team for each week: Texas Tech found a way to win both games.


"To be 2-0 and play as poorly as we have at times and have all the mistakes and penalties and still be 2-0, we’ll build off that," Kingsbury said Monday during his weekly news conference in Lubbock, Texas. "It’s got to go up from here."


Texas Tech, which has looked vulnerable in wins against Central Arkansas (42-35) and Texas-El Paso (30-26), is hoping that improvement will be evident when it plays Arkansas on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Red Raiders (2-0) will get their first true test of the season against the Razorbacks (1-1), who are coming off their record-setting, 73-7 win against Nicholls State and traveling for the second time this season.


It will be Texas Tech’s first regular season game against an SEC opponent since 2003. Kingsbury and his crew look forward to the challenge. But quarterback Davis Webb said the Red Raiders realize they must play much better to beat the Hogs.


"The best team we’ve played this year, so we haven’t played really that good this year, and we obviously have to pick up both sides of the ball," Webb said.


Texas Tech’s struggles nearly led to a disappointing loss at UTEP last Saturday.


The Miners controlled the clock most of the night, grinding out 277 rushing yards en route to an 18-minute advantage in time of possession. The plan nearly worked to perfection, considering UTEP took a 26-23 lead by scoring with 5:05 remaining.


But Webb and the offense — which only had 59 plays — answered the challenge when necessary by putting together a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive.


"If we don’t score on that drive, we don’t win the game probably," Webb said. "We all looked at each other in the eyes and had that belief we could do it. We could tell we were going to score. There was no doubt in anybody’s mind. It wasn’t because we were playing UTEP. It wasn’t because that place was a hostile environment. We saw how hard we worked this summer. We dream for moments like that."


The Red Raiders still had to make a defensive stand after UTEP started its final possession with a big kickoff return and face mask penalty. The Miners had the ball at Texas Tech’s 33-yard line, but the Red Raiders held firm to wrap up the win.


Texas Tech still had one more obstacle to face after the game. The team couldn’t fly home immediately after the game because of issues with their charter plane.


"The plane wasn’t ready to fly out, so we spent the night or spent the morning, I guess it would be, six hours of the morning in a hotel and then came back," Kingsbury said. "So that was about par for the night, I guess."


It wasn’t a smooth trip, but linebacker Kenny Williams said it was valuable.


"Knowing that we can handle adversity, it feels really good in the season," Williams said. "The team itself, we know those games didn’t go the way we wanted them to go, and we’ve worked really hard to have those type of outcomes. I feel like the whole team knows that, and we’re trying to get the click for this game."


There’s no doubt the program is preparing for the occasion. The game will be the first between Arkansas and Texas Tech since 1991. So the Red Raiders announced they’ll wear throwback uniforms as it faces an old Southwest Conference rival.


On the field, Webb said the emphasis of the week will be faster starts against another team determined to eat clock. Texas Tech is 11th in the nation in total offense (570 yards a game) after two weeks, but the high-powered attack expects more after penalties and other mistakes have affected their early production.


"It’s not because we’re playing Arkansas or playing a better team this week, but because we have to get a better start," Webb said. "If we want to do the things we want to do this year, we have to get off to a better start. And the two games, first two quarters are unacceptable for an offense that can be good."


Kingsbury said Texas Tech must be prepared for Arkansas’ physical play as well.


He knows the Razorbacks pushed around Nicholls State last week, setting SEC single-game records for yards per play (12.4) and yards per rushing attempt (12.7). He saw them dominate Auburn’s defensive front for the first half of a 45-21 loss, too.


But Kingsbury said the Red Raiders plan on standing up to the challenge after working their way through two sluggish performances to start the season.


"It’s early, and we’re not supposed to be at our best yet, and I know it’s coming," Kingsbury said. "They’re working hard. The effort is one thing that’s standing out on film. They’re playing hard. We’re just not making the right decisions all the time, and we have to get better."