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October 10, 2010

Signals from the static

Numerous themes may emerge from any football game, some more obvious and others. And what hopefully emerged from Texas Tech's 45-38 victory over Baylor is a dramatic momentum shift for the Red Raiders. After a humiliating road loss to a bad Iowa State team, and facing early deficits of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14, the Red Raiders finally lit the afterburners and soared to a solid win over a dangerous and much improved Bear football team. Tech next welcomes to town an Oklahoma State program that hasn't won in Lubbock since the World War II era. The Red Raiders appear to be slowly finding themselves. And if they can ambush the highly ranked Cowboys next week they may find themselves en route to a pretty good season despite a bleak first four games.

MO' MOORE, PLEASE: The road back to the playing field has been a long one for senior cornerback LaRon Moore, but once he finally got back on the grid he showed us what we've been missing. Moore made two key plays late in the game when the Bears were frantically attempting to complete a comeback. First, he made an excellent stop on Robert Griffin who had caught a throwback pass at the Tech 21 on fourth-and-15. Then, on the first play of Baylor's next drive he tackled perpetual thorn in the side Kendall Wright for a one yard loss. With Tech's problems at corner of late, Moore may be exactly the right remedy.

AND MORE BULLITt WHILE WE'RE AT IT: After watching redshirt freshman Terrance Bullitt light up ball carriers in practice I've been looking forward to him being given the opportunity to do the same against an opponent. That opportunity finally arrived against the Bears and Bullitt did not disappoint. In the first significant playing time of his Tech career Bullitt registered three tackles including one devastating hit for a loss, and also made a nice play in coverage on a pass that was tipped by Bront Bird. With Tech's surprising struggles at safety we will hopefully see more hot lead in future games.

TURNOVER DRAUGHT: After starting the season by generating 11 turnovers in three games, the Texas Tech defense has now gone two games (nine quarters, actually) without recovering a fumble or snaring an interception. And it is surely no coincidence that the Red Raiders have allowed an average of 45 points per contest in the last two games after having allowed 23 points per game in the first three. The sooner the defense emerges from its turnover hibernation the better.

STEPPING UP: Over the last week or two I have been lamenting the disappearance of all Tech receivers not named Lyle Leong. Well I can give that refrain a rest, for at least a week anyway. Leong, who has been a touchdown machine, had another good afternoon but did not score a touchdown. Picking up the scoring slack were Alex Torres who caught seven balls including two for touchdowns, and Detron Lewis who caught 11 passes and a touchdown. Austin Zouzalik also made a significant contribution. I'm not sure whether or not Tech's offensive staff challenged the other receivers to rise to the occasion, but they certainly did.

GETTING A GRIP ON GRIFFIN: One nightmare scenario that was definitely playing in the minds of many a Red Raider fan prior to this game was Baylor's Olympian-type quarterback Robert Griffin lancing through a hapless Tech defense like... well... like Brad Smith or Colt McCoy. It certainly seems as though the Red Raider D has historically struggled against mobile quarterbacks, and Griffin is mobility defined. So how did the Red Raiders fair against greasy fast Griffin? They allowed him to pass for 384 yards, but more important, surrendered only 18 rushing yards to him on 11 carries. I suspect James Willis assigned a "spy" to Griffin, and playing the role of 007 may well have been freshman Tre Porter who started in place of Sam Fehoko and led Tech in tackles with 12. It was refreshing to see the Tech defense actually account for a running quarterback for a change.

HYDER AND SEEK: Freshman Kerry Hyder started the game at defensive end in place of Scott Smith, but didn't record a tackle. Donald Langley started at tackle in place of Myles Wade and registered three stops. Aundrey Barr, surprisingly enough, did not play.

ON-SIDES OBSERVATION: Without yet having heard or read any commentary on the disastrous on-sides kick that Baylor's Terrance Ganaway returned for a touchdown, I'm nonetheless reasonably sure that Tommy Tuberville has come in for a drubbing over this call. But in actuality, the call was a good one. If Donnie Carona had merely kicked the ball the required ten yards he would have recovered it easily because the Bears were caught completely off guard. Instead, Corona kicked it eight and then was joined by several Red Raiders who mooned over the ball like Cro Magnon Man observing fire for the first time. You can watch football as much as you like but you will never have seen it all.



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