Garman, the junior quarterback playing in just his third game since taking over for injured J.W. Walsh, threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, and added a rushing TD on an 8-yard bootleg in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Washington, the true freshman who entered the game with two catches, was on the receiving end of three of Garman’s throws against the Red Raiders for 87 yards, including touchdown receptions of 33 and 39 yards. He also had a 70-yard touchdown catch and run taken away because of an offensive pass interference penalty.
Richards, also a true freshman who has played sparingly through the first three games, grew up fast against a Texas Tech offense which threw 60 passes Thursday night. The 6-foot, 180-pound freshman from San Antonio was pressed into action when Ashton Lampkin limped off the field with an ankle injury, and Richards finished with five tackles, one of the Cowboys’ three interceptions, and a broken up pass.
The 24th-ranked Cowboys improve to 3-1 overall, while Tech is 2-2.
“As always, it was a good win. It’s not ever easy through Big 12 play,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “Every game is going to be like this for us with so many young players. We’ve got a lot of areas to work on.
“Defensively, I thought we played good for two-and-a-half quarters. We started out slow but for the most part played pretty well. Early in the game, we weren’t doing anything offensively. We just kept putting them put on the field, and that’s the worst thing you can do against Tech. Overall on defense I thought we played pretty good. We had a couple of guys get knicked up a little bit so we were playing with a lot of freshmen out there. One time I counted five true freshmen, and that made me a little nervous. They went out and competed and made some plays.”
Garman was 17-of-31 passing with two interceptions but rallied the Cowboys after they fell behind 7-0 as Texas Tech took the game’s opening kickoff and drove 83 yards for a score. His 33-yard touchdown pass to Washington tied it up 7-7, and his 39-yard scoring toss to the true freshman from tiny Stamford, Texas (a year ago he was playing Texas Class A football) gave the Cowboys a 21-14 lead midway through the second quarter.
In the second half, Garman would connect with Blake Jarwin on a 47-yard scoring play to make it 28-14, and then his 50-yarder to Tyreek Hill pussed the Cowboys lead to 35-21.
“I thought Daxx (Garman) played good except for the one ball he threw across the goal line where he tried to throw it across his body. Other than that for the most part, I though he played well,” said Gundy.
“I thought he handled himself really well. It was his first Big 12 game and only his third game at this level. For the most part, he understood exactly what we wanted to do. He did much better in our run-pass checks. In fact, I don’t remember him making a mistake, run-pass check-wise. He’s learning, and he’s getting better.
“He needs to learn how to slide. I told him just get the first down and slide, and he took a hit. So he needs to learn to get down once he gets a first down. He competed and to be a quarterback, you have to be the toughest guy on the field. You’re the one who gets hit, and you can’t defend yourself so that’s a choice you have to make as a quarterback in this league.”
Talk about competing, that’s what the 6-foot, 193-pound Washington does every time the ball is throw his way. He is a physical receiver who doesn’t back down from any defender, and Texas Tech’s cornerbacks found that out Thursday night.
"He's got a great vertical leap. He's very springy,” said Cowboys offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. “That's what we said when we were recruiting him. He's really come into his own. He can really go up and get the ball. He has a very unique skill set.”
Gundy echoed Yurcich’s thoughts.
“From the day he stepped on this campus and we threw the ball down the field, he elevated over everybody and took it away from them. He did it over and over and over in practice. He went up against some pretty good corners, and in most cases, if you do it in practice all the time, you have a pretty good chance of doing it during a game. Not always, but most of the time,” said Gundy.
“He has an uncanny ability to leap and take the ball from the highest point, and he’s very, very competitive. No matter what the position is, if you’re a guy that competes, you have a chance. He’s got a long ways to go. He made some mistakes. He busted a few routes, but if the ball is in the air, he’s gong to go get it. He’s going to make that effort.”
The Cowboys defense allowed the Red Raiders 506 total yards on 91 plays but seemed to come up with the big play when needed, including Richards’ diving interception at the OSU 9-yard line when it appeared Tech was going to take a 14-7 lead.
“As soon as he went in, they threw right at him and for the rest of the game,” Gundy said. “He had some pass interferences. He’s a freshman out there, and he’s fighting for his life. A couple of times, he was called for pass interference or was fighting for his life, and the guy ran right over him. Either way, he’s out there, and he had to play.”
Some Cowboys veterans also stepped up big in the conference opener. Senior running back Desmond Roland ran for 86 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. Receiver Marcell Ateman caught a career-high six passes for 130 yards.
Linebackers Ryan Simmons and Seth Jacobs each had 10 tackles, with Jacobs picking off his second pass in four games. Defensive end Jimmy Bean was outstanding with eight tackles, including a pair of sacks, three tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles (although Tech recovered both).
"At halftime, we didn't really make any big adjustments,” said Bean. “There were a few little things that we talked about, but we knew we just had to get after them. We kept on telling ourselves to fight through it even when we were tired, and Tech's offensive line eventually kind of gave up. We knew they were tired so everybody started bringing the pressure.”
The Cowboys return to action on Saturday, Oct. 4, against Iowa State at Boone Pickens Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.