Big 12: Raiders-Horns 091909

McCoy overcomes flu, slow start to exact revenge on Tech

September, 20, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- It wasn’t the kind of resounding conquest that would give Texas any claim to being the nation’s best team -- even as other contenders around them either struggled or lost earlier in the day.

Heck, it wasn’t even the payback that most of the record crowd of 101,297 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium were hoping for after last year's nightmarish last-second loss on the High Plains.

  Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
  Colt McCoy was limited in practice this week due to the flu, and the rustiness showed at times.

But Mack Brown won’t complain too much about his team’s gritty 34-24 victory over Texas Tech.

“If everybody’s bragging on one team, you better look out,” Brown said. “It’s survival. It’s not playoffs or anything else. It’s just survival.”

And on a day when USC and BYU stumbled and Tim Tebow and Florida didn't look unbeatable, Texas players were happy with merely escaping their conference opener with a closer-than-expected triumph.

“We don’t take these games for granted,” Texas wide receiver John Chiles said. “We don’t take Wyoming or Texas Tech for granted when you see stuff like that happening. We saw it.”

The Longhorns sputtered through another rough early performance as Colt McCoy looked mortal for the second-straight week.

Despite the struggles, Brown was happy to see his team slog through the first half before erupting after the break again.

“I thought it was good that things weren’t easy for us,” Brown said. “Sometimes we were mad about some things about last week and we still scored 41 points. We’re not happy tonight and we scored 34. That’s good.

“We’re a work in progress, but I’m proud of the way they grew up and worked.”

Some of McCoy’s early struggles were understandable. He was waylaid earlier this week with a bout of the flu that caused him to miss practice on Tuesday and limited his participation later in the week.

The rustiness showed early as the Longhorns produced only 10 points in the first half and none of those came from the offense. McCoy appeared winded as he was limited to only five yards rushing on eight carries.

His passing numbers were pedestrian -- 205 passing yards, two interceptions on tipped passes, one touchdown pass -- but still good enough to beat Tech coach Mike Leach in Austin again.

Credit the Texas victory to perseverance. Or maybe just a healthy dose of chicken soup.

“We were winning at halftime,” said McCoy, who misfired on seven of his 16 passes in the first half. “Sometimes, everything is not going to go our way. And to give us credit, we came out and played a completely different game in the second half.”

Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis opted to go with a no-huddle offense to change the pace after halftime. The Longhorns responded by scoring touchdowns on their first two drives to snap out of their funk and take control of the game.

Brown said McCoy’s mood brightened as the Longhorns experienced more success after the break.

“In the second half he had a blast,” Brown said. “He was laughing. They would score and he would say, ‘Look out, we’re going to score, too.’”

For most of the second half, that was true. And then the Longhorns’ defense answered the challenge by exacting their own form of revenge on Tech quarterback Taylor Potts.

Tech’s junior quarterback blistered the Longhorns for 420 yards and three touchdowns. But Texas came up with two big fourth-quarter turnovers that sealed the victory.

There were other positives in the game. Tre’ Newton is emerging as Texas’ feature running back after rushing for 81 of his career-high 88 yards in the second half.

Dan Buckner appears to be filling the hole at tight end after producing six receptions for 75 yards -- matching his career high for receptions for the second-straight week.

And while Texas' players tried to discount the retribution angle in their public statements earlier in the week, it still was sweet for them to beat the Red Raiders after what happened last year in Lubbock.

“It wasn’t a revenge win, but we had all had what happened last year on our minds,” Texas defensive end Sam Acho said. “Some people use that as motivation or a way to play better. It was definitely an opportunity to go back out there and get back what they took from us.”

Potts couldn't beat Texas but still earns plaudits

September, 20, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Taylor Potts couldn’t beat Texas in his first road start. But the Texas Tech quarterback earned praise for how close he came to pulling off that feat.

Brendan Maloney/US Presswire
Taylor Potts withstood a ferocious pass rush to throw for 420 yards and three TDs in his first road start.
Potts withstood a furious Longhorn pass rush and didn’t stop throwing. He was still firing away even as the Longhorns claimed a tough 34-24 victory.

“He was really, really tough,” Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. “He got hit hard tonight. It’s a rare, rare quarterback -- and some great quarterbacks can’t do what he did -- and that’s to get hit really, really hard, come back on the next play and next drive. He did that and he did not flinch.”

Potts completed 46 of 62 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns, directing the Red Raiders on two scoring drives to start the second half after Texas Tech had struggled with only three points in the first half.

Texas players were marveling at the way he came back from a devastating blindside fourth-quarter sack from Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle. Potts appeared to take a helmet-to-helmet hit from Kindle, but bounced backed without recoiling and was back trying to lead his team again on the next drive.

“I got hit, turned the ball over and the game wasn’t over,” Potts said. “And we had to try and get another score. I didn’t want to let my teammates down. I was voted captain. If I’m lying on the ground hurt, that’s not a good captain.”

Texas players said that Potts’ performance was reminiscent of other prolific Tech quarterbacks in the past, with a twist. They said his toughness may set him apart from the others.

“Potts is a great quarterback,” Texas defensive end Sam Acho said. “I watched him a little on tape and he looked good. But in real life, he was even better. We knew he would be a challenge. He’ll be a good one. He played great under pressure.”

The Red Raiders dictated the tempo in the first half by operating out of a no-huddle offense. But they had repeated troubles with penalties -- Tech had 58 of its 108 penalty yards in the first half -- and couldn’t overcome repeatedly being in long-yardage situations.

“In the first half we played a little sporadic,” said Potts, who came within three completions of breaking the school’s single-game completion record. “But in the second half, I felt like we played like ourselves.”

Some of the thinking was that Texas would capitalize by moving the game from its projected starting time in early November to becoming Potts’ first start on the road.

Texas coach Mack Brown didn’t go along with that thinking after watching Potts' show of passing, tenacity and toughness.

“You have to give Taylor Potts credit,” Brown said. “Unbelievable passing. I stood there watching and couldn’t believe some of their passing. I thought it was a credit to him for playing as well as he did.”

Texas holds on for gritty 34-24 victory over Tech

September, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- It wasn't exactly an artistic success for Colt McCoy and the Texas offense, but they probably won't complain too much.

The No. 2 Longhorns still had enough to notch a 34-24 victory over Texas Tech.

I'm headed down to the locker room to get comments from both teams. Check back after the game to see what they had to say.

Potts answers with another TD pass

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Wasn't Taylor Potts supposed to be showing some jitters in his first college road game against No. 2 Texas?

Potts continued to confound skeptics as he marched Texas Tech 88 yards on eight plays, capped with a 22-yard TD pass to Tremain Swindall to pull the Red Raiders within 31-24 with 6:58 left.

Potts has completed 43 of 57 passes for 387 yards. All three of his touchdown passes have come in the second half.

Now, it will be up to Texas Tech's defense to come up with a stop. The Red Raiders' defense has been resting for much of the second half.

It will be up to them to give Tech a chance to give Potts a chance at a game-tying drive.

Kindle picks good time for 1st sack

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's been the biggest question around Texas.

Namely, no sacks by Sergio Kindle in his first two games have led some to wonder what the case of his early struggles have been.

Kindle picked up his first sack early in the fourth quarter, causing a fumble by Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts.

Sam Acho recovered at the Tech 19, giving the Longhorns' offense another chance to put the game away.

Interceptions keep game close

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Earl Thomas' interception appeared to have put Texas in strong position to add a clinching touchdown with the Longhorns nursing a tight 24-17 lead over Texas Tech.

But D.J. Johnson's interception two plays later enabled the Red Raiders to dodge a bullet deep in their own territory.

Now, sophomore quarterback Taylor Potts has a chance to lead his team to a tying touchdown before the largest crowd in Texas football history.

Can he do it?

Finally, the offensive battle we expected

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- After a halftime of adjustments, we're finally seeing the scoring battle that we expected tonight between Texas and Texas Tech.

Both teams have scored twice on both of their second-half possessions as Texas holds a tight 24-17 lead after three quarters.

Cody Johnson provided a 1-yard TD plunge to put Texas ahead, 24-10.

But Tech answered with an eight-play scoring possession capped on a 10-yard TD pass from Taylor Potts to Lyle Leong with 1:29 left in the third quarter to pull the Red Raiders back within seven points.

Now, the game likely will hinge on somebody getting a defensive stop.

The Texas Tech defense will have the first opportunity to get that.

Red Raiders answer thanks to clutch fourth-down conversions

September, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Taylor Potts answered Texas' first scoring drive with one of his own.

Potts coolly converted two fourth-down plays on a 61-yard drive. His 14-yard touchdown pass to his old childhood chum from Abilene, Lyle Leong, capped Tech's first scoring drive resulting in a touchdown.

Potts started the drive with the same statistics as on his first drive, completing six of seven passes. This time, his passes accounted for 67 yards.

Tempo change sparks Texas TD drive

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Colt McCoy appears to have settled down by speeding up.

Texas employed a no-huddle offense to march 66 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive, mainly because Texas Tech was gasping air as the Longhorns pushed their lead to 17-3 early in the third quarter.

Tre' Newton capped the drive with a 19-yard TD run as he streaked up the middle of the Tech offense.

The Longhorns converted three third-down plays on the scoring drive after clicking on only three of eight third-down plays in the first half.

Newton, the son of former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton, scored for the second time in two weeks.

The Longhorns appear to have Tech on its heels. Taylor Potts needs a big drive to answer Texas' momentum-changing opening possession.

Record crowd for 'Horns-Raiders

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

A record crowd of 101,297 is attending tonight's game between Texas and Texas Tech at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

It breaks the previous record of 101,096 that was set Sept. 5 when the Longhorns beat Louisiana-Monroe.

It is the largest crowd to attend a football game in the history of the state of Texas. And fans have been packed into practically every cranny of the mammoth facility. They are even stacked up watching the game from the concourses.

And few have left the facility as we start the third quarter.

Tech-Texas first half instant analysis

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas' offense has sputtered in the first half as a short-handed Texas Tech defense has kept the Longhorns bottled up most of the game.

The Red Raiders are playing without starting defensive end Ra’Jon Henley, backup defensive end Ryan Haliburton and starting strong safety Franklin Mitchem. It hasn’t mattered as the Red Raiders’ shortened rotation has limited Texas to 124 yards and only seven first downs.

But it hasn’t been enough as Tech’s mistakes in special teams and overall sloppy play have enabled Texas to claim a 10-3 halftime lead.

Here a quick look at the first half:

Stat of the half: Coming into the game, Tech had punted twice in the first two games of the season. The Red Raiders were forced to punt five times in the first half.

Best player in the half: Texas WR/PR Jordan Shipley accounted for the game’s only touchdown on a 46-yard touchdown return. It was his second punt return for a touchdown in two seasons against the Red Raiders. Shipley has also accounted for a team-high five receptions for 28 yards.

Turning point: After the first drive, Texas’ defense made adjustments into combating Tech’s no-huddle offense. Although Taylor Potts has completed 24 of 34 passes for 163 yards, none have gone for longer than 17 yards as the Red Raiders have creased the Texas red zone only once.

Best call: Using John Chiles on a direct snap produced a 36-yard run on a direct snap from center. It helped account for the only points produced by Texas’ offense in the first half.

What Texas needs to do: Get Colt McCoy back in synch. The Longhorns’ quarterback is playing his way through a first-half funk for the second-straight week, accounted for only 70 yards on 9 of 16 passing with one interception. Tech has done a good job of keeping McCoy bottled up with two sacks that have diminished his rushing total to 6 yards.

What Texas Tech needs to do: Cut out the self-inflicted mistakes. The Red Raiders have been penalized seven times for 61 yards in the first half. It helped account for wiping out three first downs in the first half which could have kept chances to score alive. Those penalties also kept Potts and the Red Raiders behind on the chains for most of the second quarter.

McCoy looking mortal early in the game

September, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Tech's defense has kept Colt McCoy in trouble so far tonight.

McCoy has misfired on three of his first six passes and failed to convert any of third-down plays so far.

Hunter Lawrence's 43-yard field goal on the second play of the second quarter extended Texas' lead over the Red Raiders to 10-3.

But the Longhorns' offense hasn't shown much other than a 34-yard run from wide receiver John Chiles from a direct snap.

The biggest problem for Tech is penalties. The Red Raiders were penalized six times for 58 yards in the first quarter.

Erxleben gets his first career punt

September, 19, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Tech made an interesting personnel move when they pulled punter Donnie Carona after his line-drive punt set up Jordan Shipley's touchdown.

Tech inserted Ryan Erxleben to punt after their next possession sputtered.

Erxleben is familiar to Texas fans because his father, Russell, was a record-setting kicker and punter for the Longhorns from 1975-78. Erxleben's son played at nearby Lake Travis High School.

So much for first punt jitters. The younger Erxleben hammered a 41-yard punt on his first kick with no return. And his 33-yard second attempt led to a return of minus-3 yards by Shipley.

Shipley's punt return scorches Tech again

September, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Jordan Shipley has electrified this crowd with a 46-yard punt return for a touchdown that has provided Texas with a 7-3 lead over Texas Tech.

A couple of things were notable about the return. It was the second-straight season that Shipley has singed Tech for a touchdown return. His 45-yard return last season for a score -- on the first punt return of his career -- accounted for Texas' first touchdown after the Longhorns had fallen into an early 19-0 deficit.

Shipley's big return this time was set up by a three-and-out by the Longhorns' defense deep in Tech territory.

Punter Donnie Carona could be forgiven for his line-drive kick. It was only his third punt of the season.

But once Shipley escaped the Tech gunner and took advantage of downfield blocks from A.J. Williams and Blake Gideon, he wasn't challenged en route to the end zone.

Gideon's big block had to provide a little satisfaction, particularly after all the pregame hype about his dropped interception that could have wrapped up Texas' victory last season in Lubbock.

Tech comes out in the no-huddle offense

September, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Tech coach Mike Leach likes his chances against Texas by keeping the Longhorns' defense gasping by using a no-huddle offense.

Quarterback Taylor Potts hit his first six passes in the opening drive, marching Tech 56 yards on a drive capped by a 42-yard field goal by Matt Williams.

Leach believes that Potts' style is better suited to keep the game moving along. Graham Harrell was a more analytical player who preferred to read defenses before he made his call.

But Potts likes to keep the game moving quickly. And the first drive looks like it suits him.

One other trend on Texas Tech's opening drive that was notable: Baron Batch made a huge 18-yard run to extricate the Red Raiders from a second-and-20 from their own 21 and keep the drive alive.

It was Texas Tech's longest run of the season.