The Texas Tech football program is headed to a bowl game for the third-straight season for the first time since 2008-10 thanks to a 24-23 win over Central Florida on Saturday night in Lubbock. Here are some quick thoughts on what we saw in an entertaining game at Jones Stadium.
Joey November has Texas Tech on the rise again
Let’s start with a big-picture takeaway. Somehow, Joey McGuire has proven once again to be able to milk the most out of his team in the final month of the regular season. Tech is now 3-0 in the eleventh month this season after going 3-1 in November last season.
It is refreshing to see the Red Raiders start to transform into a program that gets better as the season progresses. For most of my time as a Red Raider, that hasn’t been the case.
In fact, prior to McGuire’s arrival, the last time Tech managed to have a winning November was in 2015 when Tech played only three November games going 2-1. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2010 when Tech went 3-1 but in that year, two of those wins came over FCS program Weber State and Houston (long before the Cougars would join the Big 12).
What’s more, McGuire is finding a way to post winning records in conference play. Now at 5-3 in Big 12 games, he’s guaranteed his second-straight winning record in league games.
Prior to last season, Tech hadn’t managed to do that since 2008-09. That was four coaching changes ago.
McGuire is far from perfect as a coach. He is still finding his legs as a game manager and he doesn’t have this team competing for titles yet.
However, he does have the knack for coaxing everything he can out of his teams, even late in the season when injuries mount and games are tougher to win. On Saturday, he was without starting defensive end Steve Linton and leading receiver Myles Price for the entire game and starting safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and starting DT Jaylon Hutchings (your two best defensive players) for half of the game, and yet, he got his team to fight and claw its way to a win.
For ages, this was a team that faded as the season wore on, especially during the Kingsbury and Tuberville eras. I’m not sure what McGuire does to achieve different results and how he’s turned this trend around in two years but it sure is refreshing to see the Red Raiders find a way to win games in November.