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October 4, 2009
"Well we just need to play together. When we scored that
first touchdown as quickly as we did, I thought we went kind of complacent. We
did not play a very good first half and then, of course, had a lot of adversity.
I was proud of our players for the way they overcame the adversity, because we
had a lot of guys off the bench respond well."
The Red Raiders opened the game with a two play, 80-yard scoring drive -- thanks in large part to a 79-yard Taylor Potts pass to Tramain Swindall -- that lasted all of 38 seconds. Their next six possessions would result in three turnovers and three punts.
That sixth drive would prove to be very notable. After a quick first down, Potts was sacked twice in three plays and was very slow to leave the field; he did not return to action against the Lobos and, in fact, was not seen on the sideline after halftime.
Steven Sheffield would replace him at quarterback for the Red Raiders' next possession and, with 56 seconds left in the first half, engineered a five play, 86-yard scoring drive capped off by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Torres.
"I knew we didn't have much time left and the game wasn't going very well," Sheffield said. "It wasn't going in any particular fashion that it should have been going as far as our effort, our execution and everything like that. I knew we had to turn something around and make something happen before halftime. It worked out well."
The former walk-on opened the second half by leading the offense to three consecutive touchdown drives that gave Texas Tech a 35-7 lead. At that point, in the closing seconds of the third quarter, Sheffield had completed 13-of-14 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He cooled down a bit afterward, completing just three of his final eight passes for 21 yards and a Frankie Solomon interception that was returned for a touchdown.?
Overall, though, Sheffield came in off the bench, provided a noticeable spark to the entire team and consistently moved the Red Raiders down the field on offense.
"I thought he played good," head coach Mike Leach said. "Thought he came out and played good. I thought that drive before the half kind of sparked not just the offense, but all aspects of our team."
As expected, Leach did not provide any clues in the post-game press conference about Potts' injury.
"Well, I expect everybody to be back (next week) since there hasn't been an injury around here in five years or whenever (his injury policy) started," he said. "I don't see why this week would be any different."
If Potts is unavailable next week against Kansas State, Sheffield will be ready.
"If my number's called again, I'll be ready just like I was ready this time," he said. "I am going to watch just as much film as anybody else and when Leach is going over the game plan for the week, I'll be taking notes and seeing what I need to do."
INJURIES MOUNTING UP FOR RAIDERS
Taylor Potts wasn't the only Red Raider to leave Saturday's game with an injury. Far from it, in fact.
Four starters -- center Shawn Byrnes, safety Cody Davis, defensive end Daniel Howard and Potts -- all limped to the sidelines with ailments at different points in the contest. Cornerback, and standout special teams player, Nathan Stone also left the game with an injury. None of them returned.
Losing of any one of the four starters for any considerable amount of time could be devastating for Texas Tech, as they all play high-profile positions and have little in the way of experienced depth behind them. The injuries to Davis and Howard are particularly worrisome as Ruffin McNeill's defense is already painfully thin at safety -- starter Franklin Mitchem has been out since the Rice game -- and defensive end.
Byrnes was seen on the sideline after halftime wearing street clothes and a protective boot. With his injury, the Red Raiders' offensive line spent most of the game playing without two of their best players -- guard Brandon Carter was suspended indefinitely last Sunday -- and their absence was noticeable.?
JEFFERS EXPLODES AGAINST LOBOS
Heading into Saturday's game, the Red Raiders clearly placed an emphasis on getting the ball in the hands of running back Harrison Jeffers.
Jeffers was much more involved against New Mexico than he has been in any other game so far this season, touching the ball 13 times for 119 all-purpose yards (more than nine yards per touch) and four touchdowns.
"Coach Leach is just getting the ball in my hands," Jeffers said. "It's making the offense where we can run the ball, pass the ball and make everything open up and try to get points and everything else."
The redshirt freshman was particularly effective catching passes out of the backfield, logging five receptions for 90 yards, including an electrifying 62-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
"Harrison, the more excited he is, the more he gets involved and plays well," Leach said.
RB Harrison Jeffers set a new career-high for touchdowns in a game (4). He touched the ball 13 times for a 119 all-purpose yards. ... WR Tramain Swindall had a career-high 139 receiving yards on five catches against New Mexico. His previous high (123 yards) was set against Rice earlier this season. So far this season, Swindall is averaging 19.3 yards per catch and leads the team in yards (367) and touchdown receptions (5). ... QB Steven Sheffield led the Red Raider offense to four-consecutive scoring drives once he entered the game for an injured Taylor Potts. Through those four drives, he was 13-of-14 for 217 yards and three touchdowns. ... WR Alexander Torres registered his first career touchdown catch in the second quarter, a 25-yarder from Sheffield. Through five games, he leads the team in receptions (29). ... Starting CBs LaRon Moore and Jamar Wall each registered 5.5 tackles, a TFL and a fumble recovery against the Lobos; Wall was also credited with a forced fumble. ... LB Brian Duncan led the team in tackles (8), registered a TFL and broke up two passes.
Texas Tech's win gives Mike Leach a career record of 79-41. He is now four wins away from becoming the program's all-time wins leader. Spike Dykes currently holds the record with 82. ... The win also gives the Red Raiders a 23-1 home record against non-conference opponents during Leach's tenure on the South Plains. ... QB Taylor Potts' 79-yard pass to WR Tramain Swindall on Texas Tech's first play from scrimmage is the longest play of the season to date for the team, surpassing WR Detron Lewis' 49-yard reception against North Dakota. ... The Red Raiders' victory over the Lobos extends their home win streak to 11 games, which matches the longest streak of the Leach era (2004-06). A win next week against Kansas State will tie the longest home win streak in program history (12). ... When QB Steven Sheffield took the field in the third quarter for Texas Tech, it marked the first time since 2005 that the Red Raiders' starting quarterback did not start the second half of a game. Against Indiana State in 2005, leading 49-0, QB Graham Harrell replaced Cody Hodges after halftime. ... Texas Tech's five turnovers on Saturday were the most by the Red Raiders since giving the ball away five times in consecutive games against Missouri and Colorado in 2006.
Oct. 10: Texas Tech vs. Kansas State, 6:00 p.m. CDT, FSSW
Oct. 10: New Mexico at Wyoming, 1:00 p.m. CDT
* Stats and portions of Key Performers and Notes courtesy of Texas Tech Media Relations.