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Red Raiders defense gives up yards but not too many points against Cougars

Posted: November 28, 2010 - 2:30am
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Texas Tech running back Baron Batch (25) is tackled by Houston’s Marcus McGraw as Cornelius Douglas tries to block for his Tech teammate on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders won, 35-20.  Zach Long
Zach Long
Texas Tech running back Baron Batch (25) is tackled by Houston’s Marcus McGraw as Cornelius Douglas tries to block for his Tech teammate on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders won, 35-20.
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Houston moves the football better than most teams, and its season finale on Saturday was no exception. The Cougars racked up 585 total yards and 29 first downs, besting their 2010 averages in both categories.

They didn’t score nearly as often as usual, though, because an opportunistic Texas Tech defense wouldn’t allow it.

The Red Raiders epitomized the bend-but-don’t-break mentality on a chilly November night at Jones AT&T Stadium, making enough timely plays to limit the Cougars to 20 points — about half of their season average and their second-lowest total of the year. The result was a 35-20 victory for Tech, which

avenged last year’s loss in Houston and kept the Cougars from becoming bowl eligible.

“That’s a lot of yards,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said, “but when you hold them to 20 points and get a couple big turnovers, it really turns the game around.”

Tech’s defense, despite allowing both of Houston’s touchdowns on fourth-down plays and failing to record a sack for the first time all season, had its best game of the year in third-down situations and recorded its first three interceptions of the month. The Red Raiders (7-5) held the Cougars (5-7), who entered the game tied for sixth nationally in third-down conversion percentage, to a season-worst 1-of-15 showing on those plays.

“We had third-and-short and we had trouble running it,” Houston coach Kevin Sumlin said. “When we got into some longer-yardage situations and they blitzed us, we got hit a couple times.

“When you go on the road and you’re not able to convert on third down, this is the result.”

The Red Raiders’ defense was especially strong in its own territory.

With Tech leading 21-10 late in the first half, Houston marched inside the Red Raider 25-yard line on back-to-back possessions but got only three points to show for it. A blitzing Tech defense forced UH quarterback David Piland into a fourth-down incompletion from the 1 on the first possession, then forced the Cougars to settle for a 19-yard field goal by Matt Hogan as the second quarter expired.

Tech turned the trick twice more in the second half. The Cougars had a first down at the 25 but had to punt after a holding penalty and a fumbled snap out of the shotgun, and D.J. Johnson picked off a pass near the goal line late in the game.

Bront Bird and Cody Davis also intercepted a constantly pressured Piland, a true freshman who has thrown 11 picks in his last four games, and the Red Raiders broke up 11 passes.

“Our kids just rose to the occasion,” Tech defensive coordinator James Willis said. “They played with attitude, with passion, and they gained confidence. Any time you have those components working together, you’re going to have success.”

The defense’s effort made things fairly easy on the Tech offense, which gained 488 yards and 22 first downs. Taylor Potts threw for 373 yards and four touchdowns, and fellow senior Detron Lewis had his best game of the year with 11 catches for 135 yards and two TDs.

The performance also made for a sweet ending to an often-sour regular season. Tech entered the game ranked 114th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense — and was third-to-last against the pass — so corralling an explosive Cougar offense was gratifying to the players.

“I think on defense we’ve started to be consistent and believe in the system,” said senior defensive back LaRon Moore, who registered two of the pass breakups. “I believe that is what we struggled with during the season, that some of the guys didn’t really believe. But now they’re seeing the outcome of what you do if you take everything step by step and do what the coaches tell you to do.

“Now they’re learning and they’re seeing it, and that’s the reason why we’re playing better on defense.”

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A good win over Houston

As quoted in Adam Zuvanich's article, one positive aspect of the game was holding Houston to twenty points, but the troubling aspect was the number of yards Houston wracked up on offense. In a few days I suppose, a bowl game invitation may be extended to Tech; regardless of which game Tech plays, just playing one additional game this season is beneficial to the team.

If Zuvanich was sarcastic after writing that everything was now right in Raiderland after Tech's win over Weber State last week, then his article was tongue-and-cheek. But if he was serious, I have deep reservations that he is able to remain objective in his work.

The television commentators announced last night that over 50,000 fans attended the game against Houston. I watched the game on TV in Albuquerque, and the stands did not appear to be as full as the guys in the booth stated. Anyone who was there able to say something about last night's game? Thanks. Wreck 'Em!

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you answered your own questions

Was sarcastic.. no his work is not edited and hes in the tank , needs work..

thats 53,000 and that has to be paid... you were in Albuqu... that stadium was half empty

Freshman QB put 600 yards on em.. go figure

Fire Brown and hire Kingsbury for OC and Harrell for QBs and ANYBODY for DC

They gained confidence against a team that has a losing record coming in and trashed us, but for their own mistakes they go to a bowl just slightly worse than TTs..

and to top it all off Meyers gets on tv and says the program really took off the last ten years or so...... hmmmm.. thats is claim to fame and hes retiring.... shame on you .. you were avg at BB, less average as a coach, and worthless as the AD

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Attendance

I was there and the stands were about half full, or maybe half empty.

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Attendance

The attendance was around 50000....Until halftime, there weren't but spots of empty seats anywhere that wasn't student section. The game would have no doubt filled up on any other non-holiday weekend even with the miserable weather. Lots of extras piled up into our club boxes because of the cold at halftime

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