Mike Leach Smartin' Over Home Loss to UT

If the Texas Tech Red Raiders sashayed into Saturday evening's game with an overinflated sense of their own merit as a football team, you best believe that will not be the case when the Raiders take the field next Saturday against Kansas State. Tech head coach <b>Mike Leach</b> has already seen to that.

Following his team's 51-21 embarrassment at the hands of Texas in front a school-record crowd of 55,413 partisans, Leach forbade his players from giving interviews, and scalded his team up one side and down the other in a short and testy news conference.

"I thought we practiced poorly on Tuesday. I thought we practiced mediocre on Wednesday. I tried to kid myself that we're better than that and that we were gonna improve from there, but right now, we're not a team that's mentally tough enough to draw from success and build on it. We want to take things for granted and coast."

When addressing the issue of why his team imploded after tying the score at 14 apiece on quarterback Sonny Cumbie's one-yard sneak with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Leach was equally brutal and blunt.

"They [the Red Raiders] got hit in the mouth and they didn't want to win as bad as Texas did because right now, as a team, as a group of players, as a coaching staff, we're not as tough as they are. So all that stuff about Texas, you know, you know, occasionally you read this business, 'Texas is soft,' all that business. Well, we're one helluva lot softer, 'cause we're not even tough enough to step up there a play to our ability, because all we want to do is think about what happened last week against Nebraska."

Leach's explanation for the University of Texas fiasco is perhaps as good as any. Given the plenitude of pre-game quotes from his players claiming home-field invincibility and prophesying 100-point offensive outputs, maybe the Raiders were coasting on the fumes of Cornhusker methanol. On the other hand, it is also possible that the Longhorns were simply better.

After one and one third quarters of solid football in which the Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead on running back Taurean Henderson's two-yard TD plunge, and then fought back to tie the score at 14 on Cumbie's aforementioned sneak, the Raiders proceeded to fold like a five-dollar pup-tent in a Tornado Alley twister. The high-amperage Tech offense sputtered and gasped, while the Texas offense, led by quarterback Vince Young's 158 yards rushing and 142 yards passing, carved up the Raider defense like a Thanksgiving turkey. Texas running back Cedric Benson, who became only the sixth runner to reach 1,000 yards in four straight seasons in NCAA history, added 168 yards on 38 carries.

Texas outgained the Red Raiders 493 to 386, but that statistic does not begin to reflect the Longhorn dominance. With the score tied at 14 in the second quarter, Texas proceeded to reel off 34 straight points in a period of 30 minutes and 45 seconds of football. The Horns ran at will on the Raiders, while sending the Tech offense to the sideline on three straight three-and-outs.

Texas began to leave the Raiders in the dust with seven minutes to play in the first half. At that point, Young rolled out and hit tight end David Thomas with a short pass in the flat that he carried into the end zone from nine yards out to give the Longhorns a 21-14 lead. And with six seconds remaining in the half, Dusty Mangum hit a 27-yard field goal to make the score 24-14 at the intermission.

To the untrained football eye, a ten-point deficit might not have looked too terrible, particularly considering that the Raiders had previously erased 21- and 25-point liabilities against TCU and Kansas, respectively. Leach, however, thought otherwise.

"They didn't look as good as they should've. I mean it really didn't look as good as it should've, 'cause all we gotta do is come out and play. And Texas deserves a lot of credit for what they did because they came ready to play. We didn't. And, you know, everybody wanted to coast around and look around at the other guy and see what he was gonna make happen rather than have any accountability personally to make it happen themselves, and that goes for myself in particular, and all the coaches and players. You know, it's the whole deal, you know, of a bunch of sheep lookin' around staring at one another."

Indeed, the Raiders opened the second stanza as if they had been mesmerized into tranquility by some sort of malevolent force. The Longhorns took the opening kickoff and smartly marched 80 yards against the transfixed Tech defense for a touchdown to make the score 31-14. The payoff came on a Young sneak from one yard out on fourth down.

Texas's next drive began at the Raider 11 yard line following a three-and-out and a shanked Alex Reyes punt that traveled all of five yards. On the first play following the punt, Young slithered the necessary 11 yards on a quarterback draw that, with Mangum's extra point, gave the Longhorns a 38-14 lead and slammed the door on the Raiders.

Texas polished Tech off with two fourth-quarter field goals and a one-yard Benson sweep for a touchdown to crack the 50-point plateau plus one. The lone Raider score in this span came on an 11-yard Cumbie-to-Trey Haverty strike with 7:23 to play in the game.

Cumbie threw for 403 yards on 34 of 51 passing with an interception. Inside receiver Nehemiah Glover had a monster game with 11 catches for 166 yards. Haverty had 8 receptions for 98 yards, and the nation¢s leading receiver Jarrett Hicks had a quiet outing with 6 catches for 71 yards. The Tech running game, insofar as it was even attempted, was miserable. Henderson gained five yards on six carries, while Johnnie Mack lost two yards on a single carry. Cumbie was sacked four times.

If there is creation in destruction, the Texas Longhorns and Mike Leach may be tremendous architects. We will find out when the Red Raiders travel to Manhattan, Kansas for their battle with Kansas State next Saturday.

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