The key player in Texas Tech’s game-ending stand Saturday to hold off UTEP had to be defensive end Branden Jackson. A long kickoff return with a facemask penalty thrown in gave the Miners possession at the Tech 33-yard line with 2:23 left, and Jackson showed up on three of the next four plays as the Red Raiders held on to win 30-26.
With Texas Tech’s noseguard 1-2 of Jackson Richards (ankle) and Rika Levi (knee) both missing Saturday’s game, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt allocated their snaps to junior-college transfers Keland McElarth and Marcus Smith and sophomore Anthony Smith.
The results were mixed: UTEP rushed for 277 yards, but McElrath showed some playmaking and agility while getting credit for eight tackles and a quarterback pressure.
More than just the opponents have given Texas Tech trouble in the first two games of the season. The Red Raiders have also had issues with their own sideline organization.
In a 42-35 win against Central Arkansas, Tech twice had to spend timeouts on defense to get the right personnel in the game. Then in Saturday’s 30-26 victory at Texas-El Paso the Red Raiders were penalized on back-to-back plays: once for having two players in the game with the same number and then for sideline interference.
Texas Tech was penalized Saturday for having two players in the game simultaneously wearing the same jersey number, so the Red Raiders have changed several players’ numbers this week to limit the chance of it happening again.
Those switching are linebacker Andre Ross from No. 2 to No. 36, receiver Cameron Batson from No. 13 to No. 80, cornerback Jah’Shawn Johnson from No. 14 to No. 29 and linebacker Sam Atoe from No. 21 to No. 25.
OPPONENT WHEN WHERE
Central Arkansas Aug. 30 Lubbock
The Red Raiders held off the FCS Bears for an "embarrassing" 42-35 win
UTEP Sept. 6 El Paso
Tech struggled on both sides of the ball but escaped, 30-26
Arkansas Saturday Lubbock
The Razorbacks r for 495 yards in a 73-7 win over Nicholls State
Oklahoma State Sept. 25 Stillwater, Okla.
After the No. 1 FSU game, the Cowboys struggled with Missouri State, 40-23
For most of Saturday night and into Sunday morning, Texas Tech fans who stayed up well past midnight saw another week of penalties, along with missed passes and failed third-down plays as the Red Raiders struggled against UTEP Saturday night in El Paso.
Some years ago, I was discussing the future of the Double-T scoreboard with Steve Uryasz when the Texas Tech senior associate athletic director pitched a relocation idea:
Move the thing to 4th and University, near the northeast corner of Jones Stadium, to serve as a giant marquee of sorts for that end of the campus.
I chuckled, but Uryasz was at least semi-serious.
That’d be cool, to have the Double-T scoreboard as a huge greeter outside the stadium. I wish Tech could pull it off, but not sure the structural engineers think it’s doable.
By the Numbers
22: The number of times UTEP and Tech have faced off
5: The number of wins in a row for Tech over UTEP
484: The number of yards Graham Harrell threw for in Tech’s win in 2007
15: The number of receptions Michael Crabtree had in that game
Offense: Projected starters
Pos. Player Class
LT Le’Raven Clark Jr.
Webb’s protection starts with him
LG Alfredo Morales Jr.
Holding off an injured Baylen Brown
C Jared Kaster Jr.
A consistent presence for the Red Raiders
RG Dominique Robertson Jr.
Settling into a starting role now
RT Reshod Fortenberry Sr.
Tech rushed for 232 yards vs. UTEP
QB Davis Webb So.