An ugly win, but that's alright by Kingsbury
Well, they say that a win is a win, and the Red Raiders are glad to pick up their first Big 12 win of the season, no matter how ugly or strange it might have been. Tech was able to jump out to a 10-0 start in the first quarter thanks to a 50 yard TD swing pass catch by Kenny Williams out of the backfield and a 39 yard field goal at the foot of Ryan Bustin, but things really took a turn for the bizarre after that.
The Red Raiders offense was stifled for the majority of the rest of the game, until an injured Baker Mayfield was replaced by fellow true freshman Davis Webb. Webb, who threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to Bradley Marquez on a fade route with 3:48 left to go in the game to make the score 17-10, led a late rally that resulted in a 20-10 victory over TCU.
After a few strange penalties, a botched TD reception by DeAndre Washington, and a missing down for the Red Raider offense, Tech was able to pull out the strangest victory in head coachKliff Kingsbury's short coaching career.
"I haven't. I haven't. Pretty bazarre," said Kingsbury, "but I thought our kids effort was incredible the entire time. Their level of effort, from start to finish, played their hearts out, and found a way to win in an ugly game."
The Texas Tech defense was the true bright spot for the Red Raiders, blanking TCU in the first half and allowing only 10 points in the second half to a tune of 401 total yards by the Horned Frogs.
Kingsbury couldn't have been prouder of Matt Wallerstedt's unit, saying that it was the best defensive performance he'd ever seen as a coach.
"It was the best defensive performance that I've been a part of since I've been a coach. We put them in bad spots all night offensively, and they kept stepping up, turning them over, and getting stops against a really talented offense with a really talented quarterback, so I couldn't be more proud of that side of the ball."
As stated earlier, true frosh QB Baker Mayfield actually missed the last few drives of the game after tweaking his leg. Kingsbury believed that his starter was alright, saying that the Lake Travis alum felt fine after the ballgame.
"He said he's ok. I think he just twisted his ankle or knee or something, but he was walking around, and he felt good after the game."
Wide receiver Bradley Marquez essentially turned the tide in Texas Tech's favor with his touchdown catch on a fade route with just under four minutes left in the ball game. The head coach was proud of the junior receiver, saying that he was proud of the way that the dual-sport star has handled himself so far this fall.
"He plays every rep like it's his last, even in practice, so you're happy to see a guy like that have success. He goes all summer, plays baseball, and then he comes back and is already in midseason form this early, so he's an impressive young man."
Finally, the Red Raiders likely would not have won were it not for the last minute heroics of true freshman QB Davis Webb. Webb got the run game going once he came in the game, and he made an impressive throw to Marquez to essentially win the game for Texas Tech.
"We needed a quarterback to go in there and make plays, and he did, so that's big time. To stay focused through all this and not get his head down, not pout, just come out and compete, that's what you're looking for."
Marquez catches the game winner
He had only three receptions on the night, but Bradley Marquez's 19 yard fade TD reception with less than four minutes left to play may have sealed him a position in Red Raider lore.
Marquez ran a fade route into the endzone, and freshman QB Davis Webb was able to drop a dime right into the hands of the veteran receiver.
"I was able to get a bead on him, keep him on my backshoulder, and a beautiful ball by Davis Webb. Those kind of balls, you don't drop, so I just had to make a play when it came my way."
While he may be a junior and a veteran at this point, Marquez had yet to make a signature catch in his three seasons as a Tech receiver. The junior changed that on Thursday night, and he felt the touchdown catch was the biggest play of his career up until this point.
"I would say that, thus far, it's pretty big. It was good to get some momentum going our way, being pushed back and needing to make a play at that point in time, just glad that my number was called, and I was able to do that."
Of course, the TD catch would've never happened had Tech's offense not suddenly burst into life with only a few minutes left in the contest. Tied at 10, Davis Webb came into the game and gave a jolt to a Red Raider offense that had been mostly stagnant in the second half.
"It was a big spark. Simply, he was just prepared for the situation, and credit to his preparation to be able to come in there at that time, at that point and time in the game, and do the job that he did. That was no fall off, and definitely a spark for all of us, for him to control the game for us."
Smith proud of defense, effort in victory
Will linebacker Will Smith recorded a career-high nine tackles in Thursday's grind-it-out battle. With Trevone Boykin throwing the ball 36 times and rushing 20 times, Smith and the Tech defense had to be focused for the full 35:46 it was on the field.
"We were flying around, trying to make plays everywhere," he said. "It was fun to actually just get out there and come from all over the place, we were all very excited out there today."
The Tech defense had to matchup up against some of the best skill position players in the conference in BJ Catalon, Waymon James and Brandon Carter, but the Red Raiders were able to force three interceptions and more importantly, get off the field on third and fourth down. The Horned Frogs converted just 3-16 third downs and were 0-2 on fourth down.
"That was real big, 'cause you know once they get going, they're a pretty high-octane offense," Smith said. "I felt that we did a pretty good job with that tonight."
Amaro has career high in catches
Baker Mayfield went to Jace Amaro early and often, hoping to rely heavily on the hands of the 6'5", 260 lb tight end. Amaro came up with nine receptions for 97 yards despite being targeted by the TCU linebackers and secondary throughout the game.
The extra defensive attention does not change the way Amaro thinks or plays, he said.
"I feel like I'm just going to go over the middle and if the ball is thrown to me I'm going to go up there and try to catch it whether there's a guy right there about to hit me," he said.
Although his team came away with the victory, Amaro said he felt like the offense still has work to do.
"We stopped ourselves a lot with penalties, with negative plays, and that's something that we really need to work on," he said. "That's something that we can really drive on to be a better offense."
Bullitt key in Tech's victory
Raider linebacker Terrance Bullitt was instrumental in Tech's defensive success Thursday night, collecting six tackles, one for a loss, while batting down four passes. The senior linebacker credited his coaching staff and the teammates surrounding him for his exceptional play.
"I want to give credit to Coach Wally," he said. "I feel like the other 10 guys on the field executed. When it was my turn to be called, I stepped up, and I give credit to the guys on defense and to my coaching staff."
The defense came out aggressive, shutting out TCU during the first half. Bullitt attributed the team's first half success to proper preparation before the game.
"All week, Coach Wally said this game is on us," he said. "Even last week, he sprinkled it in. We had that from the beginning, that we were going to come out, play with a body full of kerosene, and play like we're on fire."
Bullitt and his defense have a long week to rest up and prepare for a Texas State offense ranked 81st in the nation at 25 points per game.