The Texas Tech special teams had a nice start against SMU. Their performance was highlighted by two long kickoff returns by Johnnie Mack, and a punt return for a touchdown by Wes Welker.
Coming into the season everyone expected Wes Welker
to have a good year, but nobody knew much about the kickoff return team. In the SMU
game Johnnie Mack
and Nehemiah Glover
lined up to return kickoffs. Mack showed his skills early by taking the first kickoff for a 40-yard return. SMU once again kicked to him to start the first half. This time he took the caught the ball deep in the endzone, and returned it for 80 yards. "I really didn't know I was that deep," said Mack. He gave most of the credit for the returns to his blockers. "If it wasn't for the front line, none of that wouldn't have happened," said Mack. SMU finally decided to kick away from Mack, but he says that has it's own risks for opposing teams. "If they kick the ball to Nehemiah he's going to do the same thing. He might even do it better," said Mack. "They have to pick one of us."
Wes Welker continued his outstanding play by returning a fourth quarter punt 50 yards for a touchdown. The punt return placed Welker in a three-way tie for punt return touchdowns in a career. Welker isn't too concerned about the record right now though, he says he might look back on it once his career is over, but for now the focus is on winning games. On the return the punt return team did a great job of opening a hole on the right side of the field. Special Teams Coach Ruffin McNeil has said that the first priority on punt returns is to protect Wes.
Overall the return teams had an outstanding game, and Tech fans should look for more of the same in future games. It's unlikely that kick returners will continue to return kicks from deep in the endzone on a regular basis, but it may still happen if the return man sees the right situation. Either way the Tech return teams have put future opponents on notice that they are capable of breaking a big return every time they touch the ball.