Tuberville happy to pull out win for the seniors
For the second time this season, Texas Tech was able to pull out a win in overtime. The Red Raiders snatched up their seventh win of the season to a tune of 41-34 against Kansas on Saturday afternoon.
This was the final contest ever in Jones AT&T Stadium for Tech seniors, including quarterback Seth Doege, running back Eric Stephens, wide receiver Darrin Moore, and safety Cody Davis among many others.
Head football coach Tommy Tuberville said that he's proud of the way his seniors have grown over the last few years, and he's happy to take the win despite a rocky contest with the Jayhawks.
"We're proud of our seniors. It's important with all the work and hard effort that we put in with these guys through the last three years, these seniors, it's only fitting that they could win in an extra-inning game at home," he said. "We didn't play the best we could play, but you've got to give a lot of credit to Kansas. They came in and ran some formations on us and got us confused early."
Tuberville is happy where his team sits with seven wins and three losses. No one gave chance to win this many games according to the head coach, and he's ready for his team to try and pull out a few more W's
"So hopefully we learn from this. We'll go into next week. We've won four conference games. Nobody gave us a chance to even do that. So I'm proud of the guys to get to 500 and a chance to go over 500."
Doege knows that redzone efficiency must improve
Although QB Seth Doege went 45 for 59 with 476 yards and three touchdowns, the Red Raider offense struggled after the senior signal caller threw a pick with seven minutes left in the second quarter. Tech once again struggled in the red zone and scored only six points in the second half.
Doege knows that the offense must score touchdowns inside the 20s, and Tech likely would've sealed the game if they had.
"First thing that comes to mind offensively is we've got to finish with touchdowns. I think if we finish with touchdowns a couple times, and I can't recall the play or the drive, be we finish with touchdowns and I think it's a different ballgame."
Of the players to show up in big play situations, no one may have made a bigger play than Eric Stephens in the second overtime. The senior tailback threw a jump pass to Darrin Moore in the Northeast corner of the endzone, and Doege knew he could trust his veteran running back to make a play.
"I think Eric is one of those guys when you call on his number, he's going to get the job done regardless, so I was putting the ball in his hands. It was a really good move by Coach Brown, because he's a great player, and they did it perfect. They ran the play perfect, they executed, and that was a huge touchdown for us."
He also feels confident in his two veteran outside receivers: Darrin Moore and Eric Ward. When a play needs to be made, Doege looks to them to come up big.
"I trust both of those guys, Darrin and Eric. So when we need a play and one of them has a better look than the other, that's who I'm going to go to. Just because I feel like both of them can get open and both of them can make plays in critical times."
Hyder wasn't surprised by close game
The Red Raider defense definitely didn't have their best game of the year, giving up a Big 12 high 27 points to the Jayhawks in regulation and allowing 390 yards rushing. Junior defensive tackle Kerry Hyder thought the option was a big part of the Jayhawks success all afternoon.
"They were creasing us, and the option game, we weren't picking up the pitch man, the quarterback was finding the seams when they didn't pitch it. That was the biggest part. They found some natural gaps and were able to hit the gaps for big runs."
Hyder isn't surprised that Kansas kept it close, however. He knows that the Jayhawks played a lot of teams close this year, and everyone in the conference can win on any given day.
"Like I said, in the BIg 12, anybody can win any day. So I knew they would play hard. You know, you've got to give them credit. They came out and ran the ball effectively on us. So next week, that is something we can't let happen."
Senior safety Cody Davis was definitely excited to come out with the win. He's been through a lot of battles as a four year starter, and he knows what it takes to pull out a victory.
"It felt great. You've been through enough of these, for some of us seniors, that you don't know how it's going to end up, and you just keep pushing and keep grinding, let the results figure themselves out. We just kept pushing, not worrying about what was going on or who did what, and we came out on top."
Davis did joke, however, that he's getting a little long in the tooth to make it through these close, heart-attack type contests.
"That was a little too crazy. I'm too old for that, so I guess maybe looking back it will be maybe more exciting, but as long as we got the win, I'm happy."
Brown feels execution was problem inside the 20
Like the rest of the coaching staff, offensive coordinator Neal Brown was happy that his seniors got to go out with a win in their Jones Stadium finale. He was also very appreciative of the fans that stuck around for the end of the ballgame.
"I'm really proud of our seniors. They've done a good job leadership wise for us this year, and I thought it was very, very positive for those seniors and the ones who have produced in overtimes," he said. "I appreciate the fans that stuck around. I thought they were loud. I thought they were a big difference in the game, especially late when we got some momentum."
Many have wondered what the problem has been with the Red Raiders in the red zone recently. The Red Raider offense has been stuck in the mud inside the 20 for the last few weeks, and a lot of it seems to be pure execution, according to Brown. He recalled a few plays specifically, including the third down drop inside the five by Eric Ward and the 4th down run that was stuffed near the end of the game.
"The one that Ward dropped they zero blitzed us. We had a good play called, and Seth checked the slant. He just didn't catch the ball. That's going to happen sometimes. On the 4th down, the one we didn't get on the 4th down, we called a run pass combo where we have a run play and a pass play called, and it's really our highest statistical play, so my thought in those situations is that you go with your plays that you're best at. What really hurt us was the third down play. We didn't get enough push. We should've made it on the third down play."
The 4th down turnover seemed to give KU some life to move the ball down and tie it up at 27 near the end of regulation. Tuberville agreed with Brown's run call there and felt that Tech should've been able to get a handful of needed yards on third and fourth and short.
"Yea, we all thought we could make it. It was 3rd down and two or three. Let's put this thing away. We could put it out of reach by making a couple of yards. We just didn't do it."
Regardless, Tech still pulled out the victory, mostly thanks to the OT efforts of Eric Stephens. Brown has all the confidence in the world in Stephens, and he made sure to give him the ball in must-win situations.
"I trust that kid a lot. I've got a lot of appreciation for what he's been through and what he's done, and I wholeheartedly trust that kid that he's going to make good decisions, and that's why he got the ball in those two situations."
Kaufman saw option play as a problem, glad defense kept fighting
The Red Raider defense was porous to the run for the majority of the afternoon, and defensive coordinator Art Kaufman felt it was due to the fact that the Jayhawks came out and ran quite a few new looks and different formations. Like everyone else that saw the game, Kaufman also knew that Tech just couldn't seem to get the speed option under control.
"Going back to the first drive, they ran some things that we hadn't worked on. I knew they would come out with something, which was their option game. They had run a little bit of it, but not nearly as much, and then we adjusted to it after the first drive, pretty much were able to get us off the field. They hit us with the speed option play right before the half that got them down there, and then in the second half we let them get out of the gate with their speed option play. We couldn't get it under control until the very end of the game when we made an adjustment, and that was difference in the ballgame."
The veteran DC knows that it all just comes down to execution. He's proud of his players and their effort on Saturday, though, and is happy that they kept on fighting until the last snap.
"We've just got to do a better job of executing and being able to take away that play. That'll be another thing that we'll have to work on this week as it goes along, but I thought our kids played hard. Our seniors, our leadership, even though there were some times when things weren't as good as they could've been, our guys fought and fought and fought just like at the end of regulation when we got the guy down for the field goal. That was as big of a play as anything so we could get them off the field."