The vertical passing game is still relevant at Texas Tech, and coach Tommy Tuberville said he hopes to see more of it in the future.
That trend might have started Saturday in a 64-21 victory against Weber State at Jones AT&T Stadium. Entering the game, the Red Raiders averaged 6.3 passing yards per attempt and 9.9 per catch — the lowest since Mike Leach’s first two seasons in Lubbock.
Tech looked down the field often Saturday, averaging 13.7 yards per catch and 10.7 per attempt. In the first quarter alone, quarterback Taylor Potts completed 10 passes for 10 yards or more.
“That was definitely an emphasis point coming into today,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “We wanted to throw the ball down the field.
“The passing stat that is telling is yards per attempt, and our yards per attempt hasn’t been real high this year. It was really high last year at Troy, and as our offensive line matures we’re going to throw the ball downfield more.”
Brown’s 2009 Troy team averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and 13.1 yards per catch. During Leach’s 10-year run, the best average per attempt was 8.3 in 2008, and the best per catch was 12.2 in 2003 — the last six years it was a consistent 11 yards and change.
This season, short, quick passes have been the norm. Tuberville said the Red Raiders simply haven’t had enough time in the pocket to be consistently successful with their vertical passing.
“You want to throw it down the field a lot,” Tuberville said. “But the last couple of weeks we haven’t had that opportunity.”
Tech threw for 439 yards Saturday, including 272 from Potts. Steven Sheffield, Seth Doege and Jacob Karam all saw time in the second half.
The win followed one of Tech’s worst passing performances in a decade. Potts threw for only 136 yards — his career low as a starter — last week in a 45-7 loss to Oklahoma.
The Sooners took the Red Raiders out of their rhythm, and Tech wasn’t able to make the most of its usually up-tempo offense. So Tuberville said the team was focused on moving the ball even faster Saturday, and he said Tech was mistake-free in terms of getting set at the line of scrimmage.
Brown went a step further, saying Tech’s fast-paced offense is the most important thing the Red Raiders do.
“We really emphasized it this week,” he said. “We wanted our kids to understand that for us to be good, we have to play fast and at a quick tempo.”
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