Because of their standout play against Baylor, these members of the Texas Tech football team deserve game balls.
Say what you want about Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells (and I’ve personally said plenty negative about him in this space), you have to give the man credit for the fact that his team continues to fight. That was evident on Saturday night when his Red Raiders erased a 20-6 second-half deficit to take down Baylor 24-23 in Lubbock.
“I am unbelievably proud of our players,” Wells said after his team’s third win of the year. “…they just continue to get up off the mat and fight. We used that analogy a lot this week of getting set, getting reset, getting refocused and they did it. They fight and ‘spill their guts’ and put it all on the line. It’s hard to win in the Big XII. It’s an every-week thing and we had a lot of guys step up for the first time all year. You lose guys and they’re unavailable, you find out on Wednesday or Thursday. Man, what a crazy ride the year 2020 is. Again, I’m just so proud of our players.”
Indeed, there was nothing on the line for either Tech or Baylor in this game other than pride. And that’s what the Red Raiders showed by keeping the faith after two straight losses, both of which saw their head coach come under significant fire for different reasons.
The unfortunate reality though is that one win over a now 1-5 Baylor team does not alter the course of this season nor does it change many minds around Raiderland about Wells and his staff. There’s an opportunity for that type of win in two weeks in Stillwater.
But at least until then, this program can feel good about its last outing and that’s something Wells and his players haven’t had many opportunities to experience over the last two years. So let’s join in the positive vibes for a change and hand out some mythical game balls.
Jonathan Garibay was the hero of the day
The most obvious recipient of a game ball should be the game’s hero, Jonathan Garibay. After all, he had a kicking performance for the ages.
Entering the game, there was serious concern over the state of Tech’s kicking game given that usual placekicker Trey Wolff and starting punter Austin McNamara were unavailable. Thus, Garibay had to pull double-duty.
What was amazing was not his placekicking performance, though it was refreshing. Going 4-4 is certainly a great night for a college kicker but it isn’t a reason for erecting a statue, even if one of those makes is a 48-yarder and one a game-winner.
But what most impressed me was his punting. It wasn’t pretty as he went with a rugby-style of kicking, but it was effective.
Garibay averaged 49.4 yards per punt on five kicks. Though none of them had much hang time, they were positioned well enough to prevent any significant returns as the Beards only attempted on punt return gaining 11 yards. Even the one that was partially blocked traveled far enough downfield to flip the field position.
All year, the depth on this team has been put to the test and usually, the Red Raiders have failed those tests. However, we rarely think of the depth at kicker or punter as being important given how rare injuries are at those positions. But on Saturday, Tech needed someone to step in at both spots and Garibay answered the call. That’s certainly worthy of a game ball.