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October 19, 2013

Notebook: Tech fights for win

Kinsgbury and Co. rally late for a victory


The Red Raiders knew it would be no easy task to come out of Morgantown with a victory, but the fashion in which they gutted out a win made the victory that much sweeter for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his squad.

Kingsbury knew the Mountaineers would be eager for a win after getting punched in the mouth by Baylor two weeks ago, and he was even more impressed by his mentor Dana Holgorsen's squad at the end of the day than he had been in film sessions all week.

"We knew they had to sit around two weeks on that loss, and I know what type of coach Dana is, what type of motivator he is, so we were going to get their best punch, and they came out, and they fought hard. We got up early and they kept fighting, and he's got a good ball club. I was impressed by their effort."

Tight end Jace Amaro had yet another career day on Saturday, catching nine balls for 136 yards and two touchdowns. The San Antonio native made his way over to Kingsbury when West Virginia took a 27-16 lead, and Amaro simply told his coach to put the team on his back.

"He said put it on my shoulders in that second half. When they went up by 11, he said put it on my shoulders. So I said, alright, the ball's coming your way, and he kept making plays. HIs size and speed, and then his determination, that's a deadly combination."

True freshman quarterback Davis Webb, who started his second game, had an extremely impressive outing, finishing the day at 36-50 with 462 yards and two passing touchdowns. Kingsbury said that he's known the freshman had greatness in him all along, and losing the quarterback battle pushed Webb to another level.

"He's always had the ability. The thing I'm most impressed with is, when he didn't get the nod in the first game, it kicked him into overdrive as far as determination, his work ethic. He just kept getting better, getting better, getting better. and putting him into position to be this type of player. I'm really proud of that more than anything. But, he handled himself very well. Had some throws he'd like to have back, but our receivers did a good job of picking him up and the line protected well all day."

The fact that Kingsbury picked up such a big win against his former mentor made it just a little bit sweeter, as well.

"It was fun. I wouldn't be in this if it weren't for him, so there was some personal stuff there. All positive, but anytime you beat somebody that's kind of your mentor, it's fun. It's fun to play against him. I couldn't be more impressed with what his team did offensively. They haven't played that well all year, and they came in and moved the ball up and down. The Charles, to see him have that success, Sims, he's one of my favorite players to ever coach. That was fun to see, and I'm just glad they didn't beat us."

The Red Raider defense faced their toughest challenge of the season in Morgantown, as Charles Sims and the Mountaineers moved the ball at will in the second and early on in the third quarter. The Tech defense stiffened, however, as WVU didn't score in the entire fourth quarter. KIngsbury was extremely pleased with the way that the defense answered the call once again in key situations late in the game.

"Coach Wallerstedt made some great adjustments there late to get the stops when we had to have them. They're up 11, and we get a stop, and it gives us a chance to win the game. So, they've been stepping up big in crucial moments all year."

But, it was some adversity that the defense needed to see, in the head coach's opinion.

"No doubt, they need to see some adversity. This is the first time a team has moved the ball that well against them, but when we had to have stops, they got them, so that's a big step."

Seeing his young quarterback play so well late into the fourth quarter made Kingsbury a proud coach, as Webb led the game clinching drive, capping it off with a 10 yard touchdown pass over the middle to none other than Amaro.

"It's encouraging. It's encouraging to have a young quarterback like that and still have guys lift up around him, step up around him and make those plays, and that bodes well for the future."


Williams proud of Webb, teammates stepping up late


Junior running back Kenny Williams finished the afternoon with 58 yards on 16 carries, coming through late in the game with two goal line touchdown runs. That was only part of the effort in the overall comeback, however, as the RB gave credit to his teammates for coming through in the clutch.

"I think that just shows the fight that we have on this team. When adversity hits, somebody has to step up, and the whole team did a good job of stepping up, so it feels good. It's a good win."

Williams wasn't surprised that Jace Amaro was able to come up with so many huge catches, either. He sees the big tight end make plays like that all the time, and the tailback knew he could count on his fellow junior.

"Oh yea. Jace is a real intense player, and one thing I can say about Jace is when he comes out on the field, he gives it his all."

The power back was happy with the way that Davis Webb responded after fumbling at the one yard line, too.

"He did a great job and just kept calm. He had a turnover right here in the redzone, and he didn't lose anything about him(self). He stepped up, said it was my fault, and we're going to go win this game."

Next up for the Red Raiders? Oklahoma in Norman. Williams is ready to battle the Sooners, and he feels like it's time for a little payback come next Saturday.

"Yes sir. I feel like we owe them. They came to our house last year and took it from us, so we want to do the same thing."


Everyone cool under pressure according to Marquez


Wide receiver Bradley Marquez had a huge game as well, finishing the afternoon with eight catches for 112 yards. Things were looking tough for Tech at halftime, as things were tied 13-13 after a pair of turnovers. Marquez said that nobody panicked in the locker room at that point, and the Red Raiders his the reset button.

"We were just real relaxed, real loose, knowing that we made some mistakes ourselves that put us in bad positions, so at halftime it was just focused and it was a 0-0 ballgame at that point, and the coaches did a great job of letting us know to just be loose and just go out there for the next half."

Marquez wasn't worried that freshman QB Davis Webb was rattled after fumbling at the goal line, and the frosh definitely came through in the clutch. The junior wideout was proud of the young signal caller's effort late in the game on Saturday.

"We were alright. We just rallied behind him, and when mistakes happen, you can't frown upon him or whatever, get down on yourself. You just play the next play when the play is over with, so we've done a great job of that. Everybody around us has done a great job just keeping everybody even-keel, and Davis did a great job of that today."

Texas Tech's 2013 football team has already waded their way through quite a bit of adversity, and Marquez feels that it has to do with the unique, "cool under fire" mentality that he and his teammates possess.

"It's great. We have a special ball club in there, and we rally behind each other. We believe in one another, from coaches to players, and we just rally behind each other, whatever it is. Special teams, offense, or defense, we can help each other out, and everybody was really relaxed, just really supportive of each other. That's all we have in a hostile environment, and that sideline is all we have, so we just rally behind each other."


Amaro puts the team on his back


Nine has been the lucky number for junior tight end Jace Amaro, who has now recorded nine catches in five consecutive games. In Tech's win against West Virginia, his nine grabs yielded 136 yards and two key touchdowns that sealed the Red Raiders' victory.

"I told some of these guys in the locker room that I was going to make sure that we came out with the W and I was going to do everything I could," he said. "I honestly can say I play as hard as I can out there and I left everything out there and I was going to make sure that we were going to win this game."

The win puts Tech at 7-0, but Amaro said he knows the team has not generated enough respect outside of Lubbock.

"People are going to doubt us, regardless of how many wins we have," he said. "A lot of people say we haven't played anybody yet, and we're just going to keep on playing."


Bullitt, defense come up with stops late


Senior linebacker Terrance Bullitt was all over the field Saturday, tallying eight tackles in Tech's win. Bullitt said he was impressed with the collective effort of the team, particularly its ability to overcome a deficit.

"I'm proud of the whole team," he said. "Adversity hit, and we responded well. I'm proud of the coaching staff for putting in a great plan. Coach Kingsbury on offense, Coach Wally on defense, all the coaches on special teams."

The Red Raiders, after going up 13-3, gave up a 27-3 scoring run to the Mountaineers before mounting a comeback of their own to escape Morgantown with a double-digit victory.

"There was never any panic on our side," Bullitt said. "On offense or defense. We knew that we just had to come out, play our game, and execute, and that we'll be great."


Jones and secondary play well late


Tech's secondary experienced some rough second and third quarters, but senior cornerback Bruce Jones and the rest of the Red Raider defensive backs were able to hold their own when it mattered most - the fourth quarter.

"We didn't play our best game today, but we tightened up when we needed to," Jones said. "In the fourth quarter, I think we had three three-and-outs and a fourth down stop. That's the type of stuff we need. We didn't get it done all day, but when it counted, we did it."

Jones, who had three tackles and a pass breakup, said every conference game is going to be a battle, and Saturday was no different.

"We just had to keep fighting," Jones said. "It was a dog fight. We know nothing is going to be easy in this Big 12. I love what we showed today, that our team could face adversity, especially with our freshman quarterback who played phenomenal."


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