Big 12’s best?
West Virginia’s 48-45 victory Saturday at Texas perhaps just reinforced what Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville thought about the Mountaineers all along.
“This is a good team,” said Tuberville, whose Red Raiders host No. 5 West Virginia on Saturday. “I said it the first of the year: My vote was going to go to these guys. Just knowing the quarterback they have, if anybody has the front-running lead for this championship, it will be them with all the experience and speed they’ve got.”
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, dating to last year’s Orange Bowl, has completed 198 of his last 247 passes, for 2,403 yards with 30 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Both Smith and Tech quarterback Seth Doege were among the invitees to this year’s Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana.
“I had a chance to watch him (Smith) quite a bit in the Manning Camp this summer against all the other quarterbacks in the country, and there was no better kid than him,” Tuberville said. “He’s got great touch on the ball. He loves to play, and you can tell he’s got that senior leadership — a guy that’s got some age to him.”
West Virginia running back Andrew Buie, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound sophomore from Jacksonville, Fla., was named the Big 12 offensive player of the week for his performance against Texas. Buie carried 31 times for 207 yards in his first career 100-yard game.
Tuberville said Buie shows the speed you’d expect from a Big 12 back, but he impresses in other ways.
“He runs like a 230-pounder. He breaks a lot of tackles,” Tuberville said.
Buie’s presence can make it difficult for a defense, which has to gear up for Smith and his talented receivers. Through five games, Tavon Austin has 58 receptions for 662 yards and eight touchdowns and Stedman Bailey has 49 catches for 710 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defenses focusing on them can get blindsided by Buie.
“When you start getting a good pass rush,” Tuberville said, “they’ve got a good counterpunch in terms of running delays and draws and those type of things with him, and they also have good screens with him.”
Senor Sack comes back
Former Tech All-American Gabe Rivera is scheduled to return to Lubbock this weekend. Tech and the National Football Foundation will host an “on-campus salute” for Rivera on Saturday as a precursor to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Rivera, a dominant defensive tackle for the Red Raiders from 1979 to 1982, was among 14 former players announced in May to this year’s Hall of Fame class. The new members will be inducted on Dec. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
Rivera will be the fourth Tech player so honored, joining E.J. Holub, Donny Anderson and Dave Parks.
Good news on RB
Running back Kenny Williams should be back near full speed for Saturday’s game against West Virginia, Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. Williams turned an ankle in last week’s 41-20 loss to Oklahoma and had only one rushing attempt after the first quarter.
He carried six times early, including a 7-yard touchdown that tied the score at 7.
Williams did not practice Sunday.
“But he’s walking around good,” Tuberville said. “It’s not one of those high ankle sprains. He just got it rolled. He’ll be ready to go. I just don’t know whether he’ll be 95 or a hundred percent. He’ll be close.”
The sophomore from Pflugerville Hendrickson is Tech’s leading rusher with 49 carries for 321 yards.
Starts’ time frame unclear
It remains unclear when defensive tackle Michael Starts will be able to get back on the field. He has been dealing with what Tech coach Tommy Tuberville described as a blood pressure condition that came to light two weeks ago.
“He can’t practice, because the doctors have him taking all kinds of tests and stuff,” Tuberville said Monday. “He’s not even practicing, so we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.”
The 6-foot-4, 303-pound freshman from Waco La Vega didn’t travel to the Sept. 29 game at Iowa State. Starts was on the sideline for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma, wearing his jersey but not in pads.
Out in the open
The Texas Tech defense gave up 150 yards after contact, according to coach Tommy Tuberville, in the loss Saturday to Oklahoma.
“In other words, we didn’t tackle very well at the point of attack,” Tuberville said. “They tackled us at the point of attack. We didn’t have any real big plays to speak of. We’ve got to make bigger plays in the open field on both sides of the ball.”
Oklahoma had 17 plays from scrimmage longer than 10 yards. Tech had eight plays longer than 10 yards. However, two of the Red Raiders’ biggest — a 36-yard pass to Javon Bell and a 25-yard pass to Darrin Moore — came late in the fourth quarter with Oklahoma up 41-13.
Tech-TCU a day game
Texas Tech’s Oct. 20 game at TCU will be either an 11 a.m. kickoff on the FX network or a 2:30 p.m. start on ABC. The networks exercised a six-day advance option to make a final determination, meaning the time and television coverage won’t be set until after this weekend’s games.
TCU suffered a 37-23 home loss Saturday to Iowa State and subsequently dropped from No. 15 all the way out of The Associated Press Top 25. The Horned Frogs remain in the USA Today coaches poll at No. 23.
They’re 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
Compiled by Don Williams