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Williams: Red Raiders celebrate the unexpected

Posted: October 14, 2012 - 10:44pm  |  Updated: October 15, 2012 - 12:11am
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Savvy veteran that he is, Texas Tech safety D.J. Johnson sensed what was about to happen and looked for safer ground. Four years had elapsed since Red Raiders fans last saw fit to full-on rush the field after a victory.

For the Texas game, 2008, Johnson was a visiting recruit. Saturday was Texas Tech’s biggest home win since then — 49-14 against No. 5 West Virginia — and Johnson knew the drill.

“When they beat UT, I was on the sideline, and they made us go up the tunnel,” he said. “I knew what it was going to be like. I knew it was going to be crazy. I tried to stay out of it.”

An hour after the fact, Johnson and fellow defensive back Eugene Neboh were the last guys left in a quiet, empty Texas Tech interview room. Neboh had spent part of the afternoon successfully chasing West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey, not shutting him out exactly, but making more plays (four pass breakups) than did Bailey (one touchdown).

In the post-game maelstrom, he somewhat threw caution to the wind.

“I got hit in the head,” Neboh said. “People were jumping, trying to tackle me from the back. I was running, trying to find my brother and my mom and dad. It was exciting. It let me know how much this meant to them.”

To two seniors, it was an afternoon they’ll never forget.

Tech cast doubt on the greatness of Geno Smith, certainly not eliminating the West Virginia quarterback from Heisman Trophy consideration, but knocking him down a peg. Watching through my binoculars, it was apparent Tech defensive coordinator Art Kaufman wanted to show Smith a variety of looks from one down to the next.

“That’s definitely what we wanted to do,” middle linebacker Blake Dees said. “We wanted to show him seven or eight looks. We wanted to show him a bunch of stuff we saw (on video) that a bunch of teams that played him hadn’t done.”

On the back end, the Red Raiders thought they could disguise coverages better than the Mountaineers’ earlier opponents. Up front, they ran a couple of defensive line twists that worked. They blitzed the safeties, Cody Davis and Johnson, from time to time.

What the Red Raiders did most often was to show blitz from two or three defenders and back out. That meant they were rushing Smith with three or four players and covering with seven or eight.

None of which the Mountaineers reacted to particularly well.

Now, come draft time, I feel sure Smith will be able to sit in that film room with Jon Gruden, watch himself fire one terrific pass after another, and point out on the projector what he sees on this play and that play.

On Saturday, he had the vision of a man driving through a car wash.

“I was off,” Smith said. “I wasn’t hitting my targets, wasn’t hitting my reads.”

Play every down as if it were third down. That’s what Kaufman told Tech defensive players they were going to do.

“Coaches said if we would show (blitz) that it would single up the linemen, and we thought our linemen could beat their linemen,” Dees said. “Coach Kaufman’s great. He’s smart, and he knows what he’s talking about.”

Kent Hance must have had a ball.

Some Tech fans felt sure this would be a humiliating day for the Red Raiders, even selling their tickets to sit this one out. Former Red Raiders assistant Dana Holgorsen was going to display his mind for offense, maybe even run up the tally to settle an old score on behalf of Mike Leach.

And there’s still time for that.

But not Saturday.

At the half, it was 35-7. The wheels were set in motion for West Virginia’s worst loss in 11 years, not to mention Tech’s most lopsided win over an opponent ranked in the top five.

Now, I wasn’t covering games in the ’60s, but Burle Pettit vouches for this story, and it’s worth a periodic retelling. Back in 1966, a lot of fans sat back and listened on radio as a 3-6 Red Raiders team rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to upset No. 6 Arkansas 21-16, knocking the Razorbacks out of the Cotton Bowl.

From all over Lubbock, they dashed to Jones Stadium in the second half to watch the finish unfold. Traffic chaos ensued. If I remember correctly, Burle once said folks “parked just anywhere.”

At halftime Saturday, I wondered if those who stayed away from Tech-West Virginia, expecting the worst, might do the same.

They had time to join the post-game celebration, if nothing else.

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I think the most important thing, Don, is that Kent Hance had a ball. In fact, that should have been the title of your column. I remember thinking all the way through the game as I sat there in sec 104, that through all the excitement surrounding this team the most important thing is that Kent Hance enjoys this. In fact the capacity crowd as a whole, Im sure came to revere Kent Hance, after all he is Texas Tech. When my kids graduate from Texas Tech, I hope they realize how important Kent Hance is in all our lives. As an alum, someday, I plan to propose that the university take the double T off the fifty yard line and replace it with a likeness of Kent Hance, complete with glasses and red tie and a caption that says "aw shucks". Please in the future, lets have more stories centered around Kent Hance. In fact, why dont you ask Kent Hance to write a column in the sports section about Kent Hance, although he might be too humble to do so. You could call it "Kent's Korner, by Kent Hance". He could relate glorious stories ranging all the way from his glory days at Dimmit to his email days at Texas Tech. So, from now on, I dont want to hear about Doege, Amaro, Johnson and Neboh, give me more Kent Hance!



I agree with coyote. In fact, I'm going to one up him. I'm going to retroactively name both my daughters "Kent Hance." Sure, it'll be confusing at first - but I think it will be worth it. Is there a more majestic name in all the land?



We already have the Marsha Sharp freeway, which can be renamed the Kent Hance freeway. It can be lined with statues of Kent Hance sitting behind his desk writing emails, which we can all enjoy on our way to Hance AT&T stadium to watch the Red Hancers vanquish their next foe. I cant wait!


Not yet a Kent Hance redemption moment

Yes, it was a big win, and definitely the biggest in the Tuberville era. There's no question that Texas Tech had a plan to contain Geno and executed it brilliantly. Tuberville and Kaufman deserve high praise - for this one game.

I want to believe that this team has finally turned the corner. But Tech still has a brutal schedule ahead, including two tough road games at TCU and K-State. They could still feasibly go 6-6 on the season. Then this game will be looked back on as nothing more than a fluke.

Let's not celebrate this as anything more than one fine Saturday until we have more evidence that Tuberville has built a consistent winner and legitimate contender.


Raiding Texas

Right on.......let's not get too cocky especially with our history of huge let downs after big wins. The OU win last year should say it all to anyone who is already thinking about an upper level bowl (Cotton etc).

One game at a time. In the meantime, it was great to see the kids blow someone out of The Jones. It was like old times......keep it up and make The Jones a place that other teams dread playing us in.

Wreck Em this weekend in Ft. Worth!



You just had to get in on the fun didn't you. You put one teensy weensy little sentence in your article just to get Eddie Haskell all gassed up. Fun ain't it?


Yeah DW

Why did you mention nashvilles daddy in that teensy weensy little sentence? Now his girlfriend bill is gonna hafta pay us a visit with his "lols, whatever dude", "eddie haskells", "stooges" and whatever else he has copied from the "hancer trio". Nashy, I thought I was extremely complimentary of your daddy in my reply. I dont understand your infernal anger at me.

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