Filani Is Sudden-Impact WR In Leach's Offense

Texas Tech QB Cody Hodges' new best friend is WR Joel Filani. Or, at least the sophomore is becoming Hodges' favorite target as of late.

Filani's 255 yards on 10 catches in Tech's 59-20 win over Kansas State last Saturday set a new Big12 record. The fact that four Red Raiders posted more than 100 yards receiving in that one was an NCAA first, as Hodges threw for 643 yards.

"We have a pretty talented group of receivers who are short on experience but are gaining experience rapidly," TTU coach Mike Leach said.

Yet, Filani has been a highlight reel as of late. His 111.5 ypg paces the high-flying Tech offense, and he has averaged 209 yards the past two games. It was Filani who caught the 10-yard TD pass on 4th-and-2 with 12 seconds remaining to upend Nebraska in Lincoln, 34-31. His emergence can be dated to Tech's upset win over No. 4 California, 45-31, in the Holiday Bowl last season. In that game, Filani caught five passes for 144 yards and a score.

"It was pretty important for him," said Leach. "He had success in the bowl and it provided him with a lot of confidence going into the offseason. He has always been a hard worker in the offseason, but it provided a real sense of purpose for him. He had a good spring and a good camp and it has continued through our first couple games."

Leach has a 1-4 record against Texas coach Mack Brown and the Red Raiders have never won in Austin during Brown's tenure. Just because Texas has defeated Tech Texas each of the past two seasons is not a concern for Leach. Likewise, just because Tech beat Texas three years ago does not give his squad any additional confidence.

"Each year and each team is different," said Leach. "We're trying to stay with our routine and stay focused at practice because every year is a different situation."

Each year’s match-up brings different players to the table, but the hype is always there (at least in Lubbock). This year is definitely no exception, not with Tech ranked in the Top Ten for the first time since 1976. Not with the Big 12 South Division title on the line.

"There is always buzz when we play Texas," said Leach, "but as far as we’re concerned, it’s the same."

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