In true Texas Tech fashion, the Red Raiders racked up almost seven times as many yards through the air as they did on the ground as the offense outlasted the defense 37-30 in Saturday’s spring game.
“Neither side really showed much,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We wanted to come out here and see the guys have good energy. It wasn’t as clean as we would have liked but the energy was good. We can build off that.”
Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt had the opportunity to see what it feels like to gameplan against sophomore quarterback Davis Webb, who completed 25-of-37 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
“Here’s what he’s bringing to the table,” Wallerstedt said. “He’s bringing stress. He can see the field. Coach Kingsbury’s done a great job with him like he did with Johnny Football when we were at that other school (Texas A&M).”
In the team’s three open scrimmages — one in Midland, the last two at Jones AT&T Stadium — Webb completed 69 of 98 passes for 959 yards. He recorded 13 touchdown passes and no turnovers.
“That’s what we worked on all spring, is me cutting out the big turnovers and us not dropping the ball or fumbling or interceptions,” Webb said. “That’s a huge thing.”
When Webb wasn’t in, junior Tanner Tausch took the snaps and finished 22-of-36 for 199 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The speed of the Red Raider receivers was on display the entire game. Junior Jakeem Grant caught five passes for 105 yards, all racked up in the first quarter. Senior Brent Mitcham caught a game-best six passes for 80 yards, and junior Derreck Edwards had 80 yards on three catches, one for 66 yards.
With the departures of Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, Grant is the team’s leading returning receiver.
“They couldn’t tackle him,” Kingsbury said. “He was like that all spring, and I think he’s going to have a big year for us.”
Tech’s offensive line was much improved from the 2013 edition, opening gaps for running back DeAndre Washington which, in turn, opened up the passing game.
“If you can’t run the ball, they’re just going to drop eight the whole game,” Webb said. “It’s hard to throw five against eight. That’s not very good odds. DeAndre did a really good job today. I’m proud of how the offensive line run-blocked today.”
Overall, Tech finished with 553 passing yards and 88 rushing yards.
After struggling against the run last season, holding the offense to fewer than 100 yards on the ground was an improvement for the defense.
“I think we’re going to have some bigger bodies in there come fall that we’re expecting to be on campus,” Kingsbury said. “I thought the effort was good. We just need to clean up some things.”
The offense took a 34-19 lead heading into the half, but the defense mounted a comeback in the second half via a scoring system that awarded points for missed or blocked kicks, fourth-down stops, three-and-outs, turnovers and, of course, touchdowns. Safety Josh Keys scooped up a fumble by receiver Devin Lauderdale and ran it in 22 yards for a TD.
Sophomore safety Keenon Ward led the way defensively with five tackles followed by freshman outside linebacker Jacarthy Mack’s three stops.
The Tech defense allowed the offense to convert 5-of-17 third-down situations.
“I tell our guys all the time, Davis Webb and really our offensive line has come a long, long way in my opinion,” Wallerstedt said. “The running backs and then the perimeter can make you look silly if you don’t have force on the ball and you aren’t tight on the football.”
While the offense won the spring game, Webb said that they have been pretty even with the defense this spring.
“That’s really encouraging as a team because we’re a team,” he said. “We can win on both sides of the ball.”
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TEXAS TECH SPRING GAME
at Jones AT&T Stadium
OFFENSE 37, DEFENSE 30
Offense 27 7 0 3 — 37
Defense 15 4 5 6 — 30
OFF—Hall 6 pass from Webb (kick blocked)
DEF—Phillips PAT block
OFF—Corker 8 pass from Tausch (Bustin kick)
OFF—Grant 75 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
OFF—Marquez 23 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
DEF–Keys 22 fumble return (Bustin kick)
OFF—White 11 pass from Webb (Bustin kick)
OFF—FG Symmank 27
RUSHING: Washington 7-56, Weh-Weh 5-9, Webb 3-9, White 5-9, Hall 6-4, Tausch 1-2.
PASSING: Webb 25-37-0—354, Tausch 22-36-1—199.
RECEIVING: Mitcham 6-80, Grant 5-105, Pearson 5-58, J. Davis 4-42, Lauderdale 4-23, Hall 4-20, Edwards 3-80, Polite-Bray 3-33, Marquez 2-47, White 2-19, R. Davis 2-16, Weh-Weh 2-12, Austin 2-7, Corker 2-6, Washington 1-5.