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Big plays, and the lack thereof, hurting Red Raiders

The big-play equation has been rather lopsided for Texas Tech in recent weeks.

Posted: November 11, 2012 - 11:30pm  |  Updated: November 12, 2012 - 1:15am
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This 69-yard run by Kansas running back Tony Pierson, who is being chased by Tech's Eugene Neboh, during Texas Tech's 41-34 win Saturday is one of several big plays the Red Raiders have surrendered in recent weeks.   Zach Long
Zach Long
This 69-yard run by Kansas running back Tony Pierson, who is being chased by Tech's Eugene Neboh, during Texas Tech's 41-34 win Saturday is one of several big plays the Red Raiders have surrendered in recent weeks.
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The big-play equation has been rather lopsided for Texas Tech in recent weeks.

The Red Raiders aren’t stopping them, and they’re not making many, either.

During a 41-34 double-overtime win against Kansas on Saturday, a game Tech entered as a 26-point favorite, Kansas ripped off runs of 44, 49 and 69 yards, providing scoring opportunities for a Jayhawks offense that, up until Saturday, had struggled mightily to score.

In fact, Kansas’ 34 points were the most it had scored in a game since Oct. 1 of last year, also against Tech.

“You can’t really give up that many rushing yards,” said Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, whose team gave up a season-high 390 yards on the ground. “We knew they couldn’t throw it, and we put them up there and we kind of gambled. They broke a couple of them.”

The biggest breakdown came on Kansas’ final possession of regulation. Quarterback Michael Cummings had spent most of the day pitching the ball on the option to speedy running back Tony Pierson, who rushed for 202 yards. But on fourth-and-3 from his own 36-yard line, Cummings faked the pitch and took off down the left side for a 44-yard run that brought the ball all the way to the Tech 20.

If not for a defensive stand inside the 15-yard line, the run might have set up the Jayhawks to earn a stunning win in regulation.

“They were creasing us,” defensive tackle Kerry Hyder said, “and the option game, we weren’t picking up the pitch man. The quarterback was finding seams when they didn’t pitch it. That was the biggest part.”

But Texas Tech survived the big plays Saturday, something it wasn’t able to do against Texas one week earlier, when quarterback David Ash used two huge passes to Mike Davis to pace the Longhorns to a 31-22 victory.

Up until that point, Tech was one of the country’s best defenses at limiting plays of 20 yards or more. Even in a 55-24 loss to Kansas State three weeks ago, the Red Raiders yielded only three such plays.

The last two weeks have been a different story, and it’s not only on the defensive end.

The Red Raiders often moved the ball with ease against the Jayhawks, racking up 29 first downs and 508 passing yards. Plays in the 15- to 20-yard range were commonplace, as quarterback Seth Doege found big outside receivers Eric Ward and Darrin Moore beyond the first-down sticks with regularity.

The home-run plays, though, have been noticeably absent. Tech has only produced one play of 30 or more yards in its last three games, a 32-yard touchdown pass from Doege to Ward in the loss to Kansas State.

Though the Red Raiders have moved the ball well, the lack of quick-strike, long-range scores have forced them to grind out drives, a handful of which have ended in the red zone with only field goals — or no points at all — in recent weeks. Against Kansas, Tech had three drives inside the KU 15, and one to the 23, that came away with a combined six points.

“I think it’s just not making plays when it’s time to make plays,” Doege said.

Part of the reason for Tech’s lack of big-play offense recently may be the loss of some its personnel most capable of making such plays. Tight end Jace Amaro (unspecified injury) has not played since Tech’s 49-14 win against West Virginia on Oct. 13, a game in which he had catches of 27, 39 and 61 yards. Speedster Javon Bell had three catches of at least 31 yards before suffering a season-ending foot injury before the West Virginia game.

However they get it done, winning the big-play battle will be key to the Red Raiders’ hopes of closing the season with the three straight victories it needs for a 10-win season.

To comment on this story:

nick.kosmider@lubbockonline.com • 766-8735

george.watson@lubbockonline.com • 766-2166

College football

Who: Texas Tech at Oklahoma State

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.

Records: Texas Tech 7-3, 4-3 in the Big 12 Conference; Oklahoma State 6-3, 4-2

Rankings (BCS/AP/coaches): Oklahoma State 24/RV/24; Tech 23/23/25

Last game: Tech 41, Kansas 34 (2OT); Oklahoma State 55, West Virginia 34

Last meeting: Oklahoma State 66, Tech 6 last year in Lubbock

TV: FSN (Suddenlink Cable channel 20)

Line: Oklahoma State by 11

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Austin Zouzalik

Why doesn't Tech get the ball to Zoo more often? It seems like he catches every pass thrown to him.


Penalties, slapping players, bonehead play calling

Bad coaching, players get injured if you look at them, lazy, don't play 100 percent of the game mentally or physically. Stupid penalties chop blocks, drop passes at the goal line. Red zone pitiful.

What else could make this team a joke?

Check out the weenie web site RaiderPower.com or better known as HypocritePower.com -- it bans any Democrats who post negative stuff against the Redneck Old White Man Almost Dead Party with a Rifle in a Trailer Park. LMAO. This joke of a web site gets 700 hits a day which is like Lubbock High School's newspaper. It is owned by Kent Hance and Craig James.

Thanks Presient Obama for saving this great nation against a bunch of ignornant, uninformed crazy Rednecks including Randy the Dumb congressman.

Hey Tubs did you like the election?


Oklahoma State 88, Tech 0

It is going to be a JOKE in Stillwater.


What if...

Outside of West Texas, no one is noticing what is happening with Tech. TT's assault of an assistant is the only Tech headline. Why would talent play at Tech? That is your biggest problem. You guys have nothing to sell to the recruits. The average stadium in the B12 holds only 61k (It's 87,400 in the SEC). Play at Tech and half of your games are in Lubbock. Whoopi... Other glorious venues will be Waco (yawn), Kansas (where?), WV (lonely place away from family), or Fort Worth (where it is cold in the shadow of OU and UT). It isn't the dedication of your coaches, your players determination, or or Kent Hance. It's just that you guys are no longer able to recruit enough talent to play in the B12 and win a championship. How many years were you in the SWC? How many football championships did TT win? Zero.

Tech needs to leave the B12 and play in a conference where they won't always in the the shadows of OU, UT, KState, and OKState. The Mountain West or something like that is where your future lies.


It's kind of hard to hit a

It's kind of hard to hit a "big play" when 1/2 of your calls are bubble-screens and the other 1/2 are draws....


Any flipping word on Amaro?!

It'd be nice to know wether this kid's stomach cramps have passed. I'm not trying to make light of the situation, but what about a season ending report if it is such?!

Struggling to beat an improving Kansas feels almost like losing again to Baylor for the first time in the history of the Big12.

Injuries seem to plague our team's momentum, we don't have the depth, and we keep "shooting ourselves in the foot". Isn't that this year's excuse from the coach? I wonder if we're good enough in Tubs' estimate at this point in the season?

How about booking some better future OOC games? When are Tubs and Kirby gonna raise the bar?

Too many questions, too few answers


Jace Amaro is going to be the

Jace Amaro is going to be the next "what could've been" I fear...super talented but will always be banged up...

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