What transpired on the field at Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday afternoon was the culmination of almost 3 years of a head coach preaching a consistent message and it finally paying off.
How big was this win?
For Tommy Tuberville, who got a standing ovation as he walked into his postgame press conference, he got the much needed signature conference victory at home. Seth Doege also answered his critics with a performance that outshined the leading Heisman trophy candidate in the country. No one had more on the line than those two on Saturday from a career definition standpoint, and no one did more to prove their detractors wrong than the head coach and QB. Coach Tuberville called this "the biggest upset of my career."
Game Ball - Offense: TE Jace Amaro. Breakout performance from a kid who we all know has all of the tools to be great. Took a pretty vicious hit as well and came back into the game in the second half. Note: I expect Seth Doege to be named Big 12 player of the week.
Game Ball - Defense: CB Tre Porter. He's had the toughest defensive assignment the last two weeks defending Kenny Stills and Tavon Austin, two of the biggest game breakers in the Big 12. He won some battles and lost some, but his slowing down Austin in this game was part of the frustration of Geno Smith. I don't know there's anyone else on defense that was as important to winning this game than Porter.
Crowd: With a total attendance of over 57,000, not a whole lot of folks took advantage of the 4,000 tickets that were announced to be available at the beginning of the week. That said, the fans that were in attendance were louder and more boisterous than the announced sellout of the OU game the previous week.
Pass defense: A fantastic effort by the entire defense, but the secondary rose the occasion. D.J. Johnson told me early last week that they played decent defense against Oklahoma, but there were too many people out of position and that was a cause of a lot of the missed tackles and extra yards after contact. That wasn't the case this week. To illustrate, Geno Smith averaged 9.8 yards per pass Attempt going into the game and Tech nearly cut that in half. Couple the superb secondary play with the pressure that the front four (and mostly only the front four) put on Smith, and it was a very tough day for the Mountaineers. The Red Raider secondary also broke up 9 passes. This is a testament to them not giving up on a play. There were several instances where it looked like a WVU receiver had a reception and then the ball was knocked out of his hands.
Rush defense: Another stellar effort. After running for over 200 yards versus Texas, WVU running back Andrew Buie was hold to 71 yards on 21 carries. Geno Smith also made no plays with his legs. As a result West Virginia was made to be one dimensional. As the game went along, the more and more pressure Geno Smith felt to make a play. Also want to point out that all of the tackles for loss were made by the defensive line.
Pass offense: Doege had the best performance of his career. Receivers were open and he was hitting his targets in stride. The one INT wasn't his fault. The OL allowed only one sack. The receivers also stepped up, too, which was one of the things that the offense needed to improve on, but wasn't discussed as much last week. Jace Amaro proved to be the biggest mismatch on the field and West Virginia had no way to stop him. Doege also threw a couple of jump ball type passes to him that he came down with. Darrin Moore also stepped up. With Javon Bell out and Bradley Marquez getting injured during the game, he's going to have to be the guy at his position moving forward.
Rush offense: Sadale Foster has had his best game as a Red Raider each of the last two weeks. The 53 yard TD run he had to close out the half really sealed the game for Texas Tech. His speed is one component to the rushing game that is essential to keeping defenses honest. Doege also made a couple of key runs to extend drives, which shows he's really working on his pocket presence. With the passing game running on all cylinders, the run game only needs to be effective, it doesn't have to carry the weight of the offense like it has against other teams with better a better secondary.
Final Observation: This team, this staff, this fanbase needed this win. It's easily the most complete win of the Tuberville era here at Tech. With what we've seen over the first third of the conference season, it's going to be the team that plays the most consistently over the final 6 games that wins the title.