The Texas Tech football team is looking forward to a much-needed break.
The Red Raiders haven’t had time off since their open date in the middle of September, so Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is going to give his players some time to catch their collective breath before beginning bowl preparations.
Tuberville said Tech’s bowl practices will start Dec. 7.
“I usually try to give them 10 or 12 days off,” Tuberville said during the weekly Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “We don’t interfere with finals. I always try to get seven or eight practice days in before we go home. Any more than that is overkill.”
Tech will practice a couple days, Tuberville said, before breaking for final exams. After that, the team will try to get “five or six” practices in before allowing players to visit families for a few days. Then it’s off to a yet-to-be-determined bowl site, where Tech will have a few more practices before playing its final game of the season.
“We’re excited about it,” Tuberville said. “We didn’t get to play in a bowl game last year, only had five wins, so we’ll be practicing some of the younger guys. And even some of the starters that we have are still young, first-year players, and they also need a lot of practice time.”
Amaro loss painful
Tuberville on Monday said Texas Tech had “25 to 30 percent of our offense” taken away when sophomore tight end Jace Amaro went out with an injury on Oct. 13.
Amaro caught 23 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns in six games this season. His yardage total is third-most on the team despite his missing half the season.
But Tuberville said it hurt Tech in more areas than just the deep passing game.
“No. 1, he was the only tight end we had on the team,” Tuberville said. “To have a running attack with a tight end, he needed to be in there. He was much improved in his blocking from the first year to the second year. The target he made across the middle, a 6-foot-6 guy who can run and who one person can’t bring down, it just really put us in a tailspin because we had to do different things each week to make a short-yardage play.”
Tuberville said the Tech running game was further hampered by the loss of fullback Omar Ontiveros, who suffered a season-ending injury against Kansas State on Oct. 27.
“We pretty much lost our short-running game and our short-passing game in a matter of weeks,” Tuberville said. “It sure would have been great to have both of them.”
Asked whether Amaro, whose specific injury information has still not been released, would be available for the bowl game, Tuberville said he didn’t know.
“He’s having a scan this week,” the coach said. “This will be his third one. They said he was about 80 percent about three weeks ago. I think he’ll have a chance, but it’s too early to speculate on that. I sure hope so.”
Where will they bowl?
A number of bowl projections released over the weekend predict two likely destinations for Texas Tech.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and David Ubben and CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm all project the Red Raiders to play in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Diego. At the top of the list of likely opponents in that game is Oregon State, according to a number of projections.
Brad Edwards of ESPN pegs Tech to appear in the Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl (Dec. 28 in Houston) against Purdue, while Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel has Tech in the Meineke game against Minnesota.
The final weekend of Big 12 games could have a say in where the Red Raiders end up. If two league teams crack the Bowl Championship Series picture, it would open more spots in the Big 12’s allotted bowl spots for the league’s bowl eligible teams, of which there are nine. That is most likely to occur should Kansas State defeat Texas and Oklahoma beat TCU.
In that scenario, Kansas State would be the Big 12 champion and would play in the Fiesta Bowl. A win for Oklahoma would make the Sooners 10-2 and a likely candidate for an at-large BCS bid.
Tech is expected to find out its bowl destination on Sunday.
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