Monday Presser: Texas Week Is Here

Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville wouldn't mind celebrating his 56th birthday on Saturday with a win against rival-Texas, and give Tech a huge boost this season.

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LUBBOCK — Texas Tech has spent the last couple of weeks being mostly a "manila" offense, according to head coach Tommy Tuberville and his quarterback, Taylor Potts.

So you'd think this might be a good time to bust out more of the dynamic plays and formations with rival school and sixth-ranked Texas coming to town.

"We're going to open it up," Tuberville said.

Tech (2-0) will play Texas (2-0) at Jones AT&T Stadium for the first time since the 2008 season, when Michael Crabtree made "The Catch" in what Tuberville even described as maybe "The Game" of the decade when Tech knocked off then-No. 1 Texas, 39-33, on the last-second catch.

Taylor Potts, who was Graham Harrell's primary backup in 2008, recalled the atmosphere of the game and all the emotions that surrounded it. But he, like Tuberville, probably would like to put the game away early as opposed to leaving it up to a last-second catch.

"Coach mentioned it to us (on Sunday)," said Potts, who has completed 56 of 87 passes (64 percent) for 652 yards and seven touchdowns through two games. "He said, ‘I know a lot of y'all were here when you won it right there at the end.' I don't want to have to win it right there at the end. Let's not bring it down to the wire.' Let's win it without one second left, is kind of what he was saying."

Many of the Red Raider players were here as players then or were being recruited by Tech and chose to attend that game expecting to get the full college football atmosphere with the national media attention and national title implications surrounding the 2008 game.

"I was actually hosting Jacob Karam that day," said sophomore wideout Austin Zouzalik, who was a redshirt freshman at the time. "He's a pretty excitable guy anyway, but he just kept asking me, ‘Is this what all the games are like?' I kind of lied to him and was like, ‘Yeah, it's always like this.' But he had the time of his life. I remember rushing the field and I had a sprained ankle at the time. It was crazy."

Tuberville, who was coaching Auburn at the time, still remembers watching the game in his living room that day. He said he would love nothing more than to duplicate the crowd noise, atmosphere and outcome of that game. But like he said before, just maybe not let it come down to the wire.

"Hopefully we're able to generate enough excitement to use that homefield advantage," Tuberville said. "I could hear it through the television two years ago. … It was a great college atmosphere. It doesn't get much better than that."

This year's game is somewhat different because of how early it is and there is no star-studded field filled with guys like Crabtree, Graham Harrell and Colt McCoy — all Heisman contenders that season. But it's just as important because of the "championship" hopes the Tech players have this year and each year after with Tuberville.

"You can't win them all unless you win the next one," said Potts, who was repeating what Tuberville said to them earlier in the season. "Before the season began it was, ‘You can't win them all until you win the first one.' We definitely have to beat Texas. Going into conference, you want to win all your conference games so there's no doubt and we want to get to that championship game."

Tommy Tuberville got an early birthday surprise on Monday when he was given a birthday cake and song as he started his opening comments during the Monday press conference. Tuberville turns 56 on Saturday when Tech faces No. 6 Texas and recalled another time similar to this one when one of his Auburn teams was asked to play a big conference game this early in the season.

"In 2004, it was our closest game when we went undefeated," Tuberville said. "We beat LSU the day I turned 50. That was kind of nice and it kind of got us going. We didn't know if we were any good or not. It was a lot like this. It was the third game, we had played a couple of good games at the beginning, but it was still LSU coming in.

"We didn't play as good as them. They played better than us and somehow we ended up scoring at the end. We tied it 9-9 and kicked the extra point and we got it blocked. But they had a penalty on the play and we go to re-kick it and wound up winning, 10-9. So that's how games happen.

"There's going to be mistakes on both sides because they'll be fired up about playing and it's early in the year. They've got some positions that they're still questionable about and we're the same. We're trying to get everybody in the same spot. They've got the experience on us so we have to make sure we have the emotion and homefield advantage on our side."

That LSU team Auburn beat that season was also the defending national champions. Coincidentally, that Auburn team was 8-5 the year before.

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