The Texas Tech football team picked up a massive victory over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday afternoon in Lubbock. Interestingly, it marked the first time that Tech has beaten UT at home since 2008’s historic Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree last-second score.
Though Saturday’s game was not nearly as weighty given that it wasn’t a matchup of top-10 teams like the 2008 showdown was, it was still a significant victory and a potential milestone in the resurrection of Red Raider football. That’s why, after the game, head coach Joey McGuire was quick to point out how big this win was for the culture of his program.
"“Really proud of our guys,” he said, “I know there was a moment there it was 31-17 and at any point they could have given up and they didn’t. We asked them to come out at half and just keep fighting because good things are going to happen. What’s really fun is these guys believe, and whenever you have results like this, it just fires that belief even more. They’re practicing even more, they’re practicing extremely hard, they’re practicing their self into really good football players, and they’re practicing themselves into a good football team.”"
Indeed, this is a team that still plays with a limited margin for error. Tech simply doesn’t have the talent to overwhelm teams in the Big 12. But then again, after this past weekend, it doesn’t appear that any team in the league is head and shoulders above the rest of the league.
That’s why the fight that Tech has shown in the overtime home wins over Houston and Texas has been especially important. Remember, the Red Raiders had to overcome a 4th-and-20 in overtime to take down Houston. Then, on Saturday afternoon, McGuire’s squad had to fight back from a 31-17 second-half deficit.
"“For me, it’s just “what’s next”, inside receiver Myles Price said. “For what Coach McGuire and the staff preaches to us like; so what something happens to us, so what we didn’t get in the endzone, so what we’re down 14, who cares? Go make a play and everybody understands that everybody’s starting to believe in that, and you can see it; it’s transferring onto the field.”"
Certainly, there were a number of heroes in this epic victory. So let’s hand out a few imaginary game balls to those who led the way to what could have been a program-altering win.
Trey Wolff was clutch again
The Red Raiders entered this year with serious questions about the placekicking position. But after Saturday, there’s no doubt that Trey Wolff has solidified that critical position on the team.
Following the game, McGuire was asked if he’d found his kicker and he answered in the affirmative.
"“I have man,” McGuire said. “(Trey) making that kick against Houston to send us to overtime gave us a lot of confidence in him. A lot of times that doesn’t mean you lose confidence in somebody else, it just means a little bit more confidence. We have confidence in Wolff and man he came through today. We felt good about where were at these last two kicks. I almost took a delay on that last one to kind of give him a better angle, but he felt good about it and said he was going to knock it through. I believe in my guys, and he did.”"
Wolff has not been perfect this year. But more importantly, he has been clutch. If you can’t have a kicker who makes all of his kicks, you at least want one who makes the big ones and that’s what the senior from Spring, Texas has done.
Against Houston, he drilled a 47-yarder as time expired to send the game to overtime. Then, against Texas, he hit a 45-yarder to give Tech a lead with 0:21 to play. That was the biggest kick of the day given the combination of difficulty and pressure.
Of course, his 20-yard chip shot to end the game will go down as perhaps his defining moment as a Red Raider. And given what college football fans have seen from kickers in the sport, no kick is a guarantee so we shouldn’t overlook the magnitude of that make as well.
"“I think one of the biggest things that have me helped so much is when Coach McGuire preaches the “what’s next mentality,” Wolff said after the game. “And we’re all ‘The Brand’, so if something good happens, what’s next? Erase that. If something bad happens, erase it; what’s next? When I started this game, I had a kickoff out of bounds, and I just walked on the sidelines and acted like nothing happened because I knew there was a possibility that my team would need me. So, the best opportunity for me to be in that situation is to have a role ahead. Not even, get to emotion from it.”"
Tech can move forward in Big 12 play knowing that its kicking position is solidified, especially in tight moments. And for hitting a field goal that could be the last bit of agony ever inflicted upon the Longhorns in Lubbock, Trey Wolff gets an imaginary game ball.