Tech looks for fast start

Red Raiders hope to avoid early deficit against Oklahoma.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:51 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach didn’t really enjoy talking about his team’s record-breaking comebacks the past two weeks, but he will take the wins.

The Red Raiders’ second-half comebacks became a topic of discussion during the Big 12 Conference coaches’ teleconference on Monday.

“I think it shows both those things, resolve and character,” Leach said. “I was proud of the way nobody quit, and they all stayed in there and fought through it. We need to start faster, though.”

The Red Raiders, who trailed 21-0 two weeks ago at home against TCU, trailed Kansas 30-5 moments before halftime. Against the Horned Frogs, they scored 56 unanswered points en route to a 70-35 win. On Saturday, they scored the next 26 to beat Kansas 31-30. The slow offensive starts have baffled Leach.

“I wish I knew,” Leach said. “We’ve got plenty of material for good drives and how to do it, good tempo, all that. We just need to duplicate that early.

“I’ve been trying to think that out myself.”

Leach said his team received a jumpstart from scrappy receiver Trey Haverty, who caught a 32-yard touchdown near the end of the first half to start the comeback. Haverty has 18 catches this season.

Setting a school record for a comeback will be a little more difficult this week. The Red Raiders (3-1, 1-0) travel to Norman, Okla., to face No. 2 Oklahoma on Saturday. The Sooners (3-0) were one of the eight Big 12 schools that had a bye week.

Although some coaches view controlling the time of possession as the best manner to slow the Red Raiders, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said that his team has never worried about it. Instead the Sooners focus on maintaining constant pressure on offense and defense.

“We’re always aware that when you’re playing them, you have to keep playing,” Stoops said. “You’ve got to keep your production offensively; defensively, you have to keep playing to be able to hold them off.”

MIDTERM EXAM: A key to Iowa State’s 2-1 start has been the resurgence of its defense, but they have yet to face a powerful offense. Cyclones coach Dan McCarney said his team will be tested Saturday against No. 25 Oklahoma State.

The Cyclones have the second-best rushing defense in the Big 12, allowing 79.3 yards per game. This is the fewest rushing yards the Cyclones have allowed in their first three games since 1982 when they gave up 210.

The Cowboys (3-0) feature the second-best rushing offense in the Big 12, including the best rusher in the nation. Vernand Morency has run for 561 yards and four touchdowns.

DISCOVERING THE EMOTION: Entering the bye week, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he wanted his team to play with more spirit. After the extra rest and practice, Snyder said some of that improvement has come.

“I’ve seen our players make a very conscious effort to address and improve upon the things that have been problems for us up to this point in time,” Snyder said. “That’s what a coach can ask for and hope for and try to demand. If you get that, then you know you can make some headway.”

The Wildcats (2-1) will need that emotion and passion to stop Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal Saturday when the teams play in College Station, Texas. McNeal, who played inconsistently last season, has led the Aggies offense smoothly and efficiently with his legs and his arm.

“When you have the ability to throw the ball…and you have balance in your offense without the quarterback run game, that’s enough,” Snyder said. “Now when you add the quarterback running game, which encompasses the option as well, it’s extremely difficult to play with 11 guys.

“You really need 12 to matchup well enough. You can’t put 12 on there, so it’s a just a very difficult thing.”

WEEKLY HONORS: On the strength of a career-best rushing day, Texas Tech running back Taurean Henderson earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. He had a career-high 169 yards on 17 carries, including the game winning 70-yard touchdown with 2:37 left.

Two Baylor players earned the defensive and special team awards. Safety Willie Andrews led the Bears’ defense with five unassisted tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble in their 37-14 win. He also had three tackles for losses.

Defensive back Braelon Davis won Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week after he blocked a punt and then recovered it for a touchdown. The score tied the game at 7.

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