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A big leap: Five ranked foes next for untested Tech

Texas Tech's next five games are against No. 17 Oklahoma and No. 8 West Virginia at home, No. 15 TCU and No. 7 Kansas State on the road and No. 11 Texas at home. Combined, they're 18-1.

Posted: October 1, 2012 - 10:31pm  |  Updated: October 2, 2012 - 12:15am
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After a win over Iowa State on Saturday, Texas Tech and D.J. Johnson, center, and Will Smith, right, begin a brutal stretch of facing five consecutive ranked teams.
After a win over Iowa State on Saturday, Texas Tech and D.J. Johnson, center, and Will Smith, right, begin a brutal stretch of facing five consecutive ranked teams.
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For as many showdown Saturdays as he coached in the Southeastern Conference, Tommy Tuberville never encountered anything to equal this: Five weeks with five ranked opponents, the ultimate show-me stretch for a football team that’s unbeaten but unproven.

Texas Tech’s next five games are against No. 17 Oklahoma and No. 8 West Virginia at home, No. 15 TCU and No. 7 Kansas State on the road and No. 11 Texas at home. Combined, they’re 18-1.

“We’ve just got to come every day,” defensive end Jackson Richards said Monday. “We’ve got to treat our bodies right. If you’re hurt, get treatment type of thing. It’s going to be a grind. I don’t think we had anything like this last year. We played great teams, but it wasn’t five teams in a row like this, so we’ve got to support each other and keep working.”

One thing’s for sure: Between now and Nov. 3, the Red Raiders will have all the opportunities they need to become a college football feel-good story — or have their 4-0 start be long forgotten.

“I don’t think there are going to be many of them that we’re going to be a favorite in,” Tuberville said. “So we’ve got to keep it in perspective of where we’re at and where we’re trying to get to, and try to make ourselves better. ... We’ve got to improve and play above our heads at times to win some of these games.”

The gauntlet starts Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. game against Oklahoma, which is coming off an open date after a loss to Kansas State.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege said getting better each week is what’s important over the five-game stretch.

“It’s just to take one game at a time and make sure we grow as a football team each game and never take a step back,” Doege said. “We never need to play to a point where you feel like we took a step back as a team. I think that’s our biggest goal.

“We feel like we can win every game, but we don’t want to look on to the future. We feel like if we can just focus on one game at a time and take that step of getting better, that’ll help us in the next game and the game after that.”

In his four years as head coach at Mississippi and his 10 years at Auburn, Tuberville never played five weeks straight against ranked teams. Not even four in a row, as a matter of fact.

His 1998 Ole Miss team went 0-3 against ranked teams to end the regular season, before facing Tech in the Independence Bowl. His 1999, 2002 and 2005 Auburn squads went 0-3, 2-1 and 2-1 in three-game stretches against ranked opponents. His Auburn teams of 1999 and 2003 each played five ranked opponents in seven games, winning one in 1999 and two in 2003.

Last year, Tech played five of six and six of the last eight against top-25 competition.

The only team the Red Raiders knocked off in that stretch was Oklahoma.

To have any success this time around, Tuberville said, the Red Raiders need to concentrate on themselves and not worry about the other teams.

“The key to what we want to do is continue to work on our fundamentals on both sides,” Tuberville said. “We can’t just put in a game plan. We’re not good enough to do that.

“The other key is being able to play a lot of players. You can’t just go in and say we’re going to play our starters every snap, every game. You can’t do that, because you’ll get beat up and have to play your backups anyway.”

Tech’s offense and defense have helped each other. In a stark contrast from last year, the defense is highly ranked in every major category.

The offense has been able to score and establish more ball control. Thus, the defense is playing fewer than 54 snaps a game and no more than 61 snaps in any game so far.

Senior safety D.J. Johnson said he’s too preoccupied with winning Saturday game against Oklahoma to think in terms of five games.

“It’s definitely a big opportunity,” Johnson acknowledged, “but our mentality right now is to focus on beating OU. We want to remain the team that we are — not get big-headed, stay levelheaded, but continue to carry confidence, swagger and continue to play hard.”


To comment on this story:

don.williams@lubbockonline.com • 766-8734

george.watson@lubbockonline.com • 766-2166

College football

Who: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Jones AT&T Stadium

Records: Oklahoma 2-1, 0-1 in Big 12 Conference; Tech 4-0, 1-0

Last game: Tech 24, Iowa State 13; Kansas State 24, Oklahoma 19

Last meeting: Tech 41, Oklahoma 38 last year in Norman, Okla.

TV: ABC (channel 28; Suddenlink Cable channel 8)

Line: Oklahoma by 3½

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Strong starts followed by weak finishes

Remember a few years ago that the mighty UT started 4 - 0 and finished the season 5 - 7. I hope this does not happen to Tech, but it might be close.


Getting Better

Thee areas from Saturday:

Better pass protection: Our line was so-so in picking up blitzes.

QB Play: Doege came out tight against ISU and he made some bad decisions. That has to be in the past.

Special Teams: Poor punt coverage. This has got to be improved.

By the time we finish this run, every team will now our weaknesses, so we have to get a lot better.


Only one beef

The pass protection was poor but that was corrected in the second half.

My one beef is Doege has got to stop forcing it.

Examples: -His two INT's where when he was trying to make to much happen and forced the throw. -1st down on the 3 yrd line. If no one is open you have to throw it away. A 5th year Sr has got to know this.

He just needs to settle down and let the offense do the work for him. Trust in the D and realize it's 4 Q's and not try to make up the different right then in now. That causes him to force it to much.

So my coach speak for him is: Relax. Sometimes you just got to let it come to you rather than going after it.


Don Williams and Headlines

"Untested Tech?" Let's see: They just beat an undefeated conference team on the road that had trashed us two years in a row.

I'd almost prefer to read another Williams "We All Love Hance" article.

This Tech team has made greater strides in the last nine months than any team ever fielded by the department. I know it is a total team and coaching staff effort, but the words "Art" and "Kaufman" just keep popping up.

Go Tech.


Not totally untested

They have been tested to some degree. Everyone was picking them for upset specials, for Texas State and Iowa St.. Texas State had just beaten Houston and we see how ULM played after they upset Arkansas...they almost beat Auburn and Baylor. Texas State didn't almost upset us and they we riding the same type of high. Secondly, Iowa St. had upset us the last two years and they were playing at home and had been winning, plus on paper they played better quality opponents then Tech had played. They were pressured early had some set backs in the the game and still fought through it and won. They will continue to be tested, but to say they are "untested" is not all together true. Granted they are about to go on a much tougher stretch, but I think they can go 3-2 over the next five weeks. I am looking forward to see how they respond! Let's knock OU out of the top 25 all together! Go Tech, beat OU!!!



At what point do you consider them tested? Other than the fact that we were 5-7 last year, I think ol Don might have been making the point that each week will be a "test". Even after we beat OU and West Virginia, the point will be made that "how will we handle success?" or "but can we beat a team like that on the road?". If we havent been tested yet, we're about to be. Tech 41 OU 37.



It'll be a test only if OU offense can play up to its potential.



If ours does. Home field advantage and momentum should help. Also, if Im not mistaken, Stoops has a losing record after bye weeks.

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