Game Preview: Red Raiders Back on Road at West Virginia


LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season Saturday when the Red Raiders travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia in a 2:30 p.m. CT kick. ­  
 
Anish Shroff will call the game on ESPN2 from Milan Puskar Stadium alongside analyst Mike Golic Jr. and sideline reporter Lauren Sisler. The broadcast can be accessed from any desktop or laptop computer, a personal cellular device and television streaming services using the ESPN app. Registration for the subscription service can be found at ESPNPlus.com.
 
Texas Tech Sports Network will also broadcast the game over 46 affiliates throughout the state of Texas and New Mexico as Brian Jensen will have the call alongside analyst John Harris, sideline reporter Chris Level and engineer Steve Pitts. The radio broadcast can also be heard on XM channel 201, Sirius channel 137 or via the TuneIn app.
 
INSIDE THE SERIES

  • Texas Tech and West Virginia will meet for the 11th time Saturday. The Mountaineers own a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series. This will be the 10th time the two schools have met since West Virginia joined the Big 12 prior to the 2012 season.
  • Matt Wells is a perfect 2-0 all-time against the Mountaineers as the Red Raiders have topped West Virginia in each of the last two seasons, matching their longest winning streak in the short series. Texas Tech last won consecutive games over West Virginia during the 2012-13 seasons, the Mountaineers’ first two years as Big 12 members.
  • Since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012, Texas Tech and West Virginia have traditionally played several close games with five of those decisions determined by one possession and one more by only 11 points.
  • This will be the first time Texas Tech and West Virginia have not played in a 12 p.m. local/11 a.m. CT start in Morgantown since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 prior to the 2012 season.
  • The only other meeting between the two schools outside the Big 12 era came in the 1938 Sun Bowl where West Virginia edged the Red Raiders, 7-6, in front of 12,000 fans in El Paso. It was the first of now 38 bowl appearances for the Red Raiders, who rank among the top 25 teams all-time in postseason trips.

 
TEXAS TECH-WEST VIRGINIA CONNECTIONS

  • Texas Tech and West Virginia have several staff members with connections to the other university, none possibly more notable than Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown, who was the Red Raiders’ offensive coordinator for all three seasons (2010-12) of Tommy Tuberville’s tenure. The Red Raiders won two bowl games during Brown’s tenure at the 2010 TicketCity Bowl and the 2012 Meineke Car Care Texas Bowl before he departed for a similar position at Kentucky.
  • Brown has three other members of his staff that previously worked at Texas Tech as assistant head coach and offensive line coach Matt Moore served as the Red Raiders’ offensive line coach from 2007-11, crossing over for two seasons of Brown’s tenure, while co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Chad Scott was the running backs coach from 2010-12. Additionally, West Virginia quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan was a graduate assistant on the Texas Tech staff in 2010 where he assisted Brown with the quarterbacks.
  • Texas Tech offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie has an extensive background with not only Brown but all three other former Red Raider staff members on the West Virginia staff as he was on Tuberville’s staff for all three as the inside receivers coach.
  • Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson spent two years in Morgantown, serving as West Virginia’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2012 before being promoted to the sole defensive coordinator for the 2013 season. Patterson departed West Virginia  following the 2013 campaign to begin a four-year stretch at Arizona State.
  • Texas Tech defensive line coach Paul Randolph also spent a year at West Virginia in 2002 where he oversaw the Mountaineers’ defensive line and special teams units. West Virginia finished 9-4 that season and ranked in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls.
  • Several members of the two staffs have also worked with each other at other schools. DeAndre Smith and Chad Scott worked together at North Carolina in 2017 as Smith oversaw the Tar Heels’ running backs, while Scott was in charge of the tight ends and hybrid position.
  • Second-year co-defensive coordinator Derek Jones and West Virginia offensive coordinator Gerad Parker faced each other often during their two years at Duke together from 2017-18. Parker was an offensive operations assistant for the Blue Devils in 2017 before being promoted to wide receivers coach a year later. Jones was the cornerbacks coach and assistant special teams coordinator in 2017 before earning the promotion to associate head coach over the entire defensive backs room in 2018.
  • Texas Tech outside receivers coach Joel Filani previously worked with West Virginia special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach Jeff Koonz during their two years together at North Texas from 2017-18. Filani was in the same role as he is now at Texas Tech, while Koonz oversaw the Mean Green linebackers.
  • On the field, West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege will be more than familiar with the Red Raiders as the Lubbock native is the younger brother of former Texas Tech signal caller Seth Doege, who remains one of the most accurate passers in school history. Seth Doege completed a school-record 69.0 percent of his passes from 2009-12 and also ranks fourth all-time with 8,646 career passing yards, 69 touchdown passes and 819 completions. Seth Doege is currently in his third year as an offensive quality control analyst at USC.

 

Dalton Rigdon

CAREER NOTABLES VERSUS THE MOUNTAINEERS

  • Riko Jeffers has put together several of his best games in his career against West Virginia as he has two forced fumbles and 18 tackles all-time versus the Mountaineers, including 5.5 stops that have gone for a loss. He had nine tackles and a career-high 2.5 tackles for a loss in the 2020 meeting versus the Mountaineers.
  • Dalton Rigdon recorded the lone 100-yard outing of his career against West Virginia in 2019 as he hauled in three passes for 106 yards, which included an 81-yard touchdown strike midway through the first quarter.
  • This will be the fourth career appearance against West Virginia for SaRodorick Thompson, who has carried 21 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns. He found the end zone twice in the 2019 meeting, one of seven multi-touchdown games over his career.
  • Erik Ezukanma has nine catches for 117 yards over his career against the Mountaineers. His best performance came via a five catch, 70-yard performance in 2019.

 
BACK ON THE ROAD

Texas Tech is opening Big 12 play with back-to-back road games for only the fourth time in history as the Red Raiders were previously sent on the road for the first two games during 2002 and 2004, as well as in 2014. The Red Raiders split road trips at No. 23 Texas A&M (W, 48-47) and No. 11 Iowa State (L, 17-31) in 2002 and did the same in 2004 at Kansas (W, 31-30) and No. 2 Oklahoma (L, 13-28). The 2014 conference slate, meanwhile, got started with back-to-back losses at No. 24 Oklahoma State (45-35) and No. 22 Kansas State (45-13) as Tech started that season 0-3 in league play before a win at home versus Kansas.
 
RANDOM TIDBITS HEADING TO MORGANTOWN

  • The trip to Morgantown will be a special one for several Red Raiders who hail from the northeast part of the country. Texas Tech will have seven players within a drivable distance to West Virginia who will have the opportunity to play in front of family and friends this weekend. That list includes Jacob Morgenstern (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), Malik Dunlap (Charlotte, N.C.), T.J. Storment (Statesville, N.C.), Josh Burger (Aurora, Ohio), Travis Koontz (Austintown, Ohio), Brandon Bouyer-Randle (Battle Creek, Mich.) and Reggie Pearson Jr. (Detroit, Mich.).
  • With the announcement of a 6 p.m. kickoff against TCU following the West Virginia game, the Red Raiders will open their home slate with three-consecutive night starts for the first time since 2016.
  • West Virginia represents the fifth-consecutive unranked opponent to start the season for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech had not previously opened a season with five-straight unranked foes since 2016 when the Red Raiders went 3-2 in those games. Matt Wells is 51-37 over his career against unranked opponents.
  • A win over West Virginia would improve the Red Raiders to 4-1, marking their best start to a season since 2017, which marked their last bowl appearance. Texas Tech begun that season with wins over Eastern Washington, Arizona State and at Houston before following a loss to No. 15 Oklahoma State with a rout of Kansas.
  • The battle in the trenches will be a key element to Saturday’s game as the Red Raider offense ranks 12th nationally after allowing only 3.5 tackles for loss per game thus far. West Virginia, meanwhile, is fifth in the FBS with 9.2 tackles for loss per game.
  • Texas Tech enters this weekend at minus-1 for turnover margin, while West Virginia is minus-5 overall. Matt Wells is 30-10 over his career when winning the turnover margin. The Red Raiders were able to force four key turnovers in their last visit to Morgantown and have a 5-1 advantage in takeaways the past two seasons.
  • If the season ended today, Texas Tech’s 381.2 yards of total offense allowed would be its lowest since 2012 (367.3).

 

Kaylon Geiger Sr.

 GEIGER TURNS IN BACK-TO-BACK 100 YARD PERFORMANCES

  • Kaylon Geiger Sr. proved why coaches were high on the senior transfer the past two weeks as he followed a six catch, 121-yard performance against FIU with five grabs for 100 yards and a touchdown last weekend at Texas. His performance against Texas featured a 75-yard touchdown strike from Henry Colombi midway through the third quarter, marking the longest reception of his career.
  • The performance against Texas marked the 11th 100-yard game of Geiger’s career dating back to his two seasons at Troy. Since the start of the 2019 season, Geiger ranks third among FBS receivers for 100-yard performances, trailing only the 12 from Purdue’s David Bell and former Alabama standout DeVonta Smith (currently with Philadelphia Eagles).
  • Between Geiger and Big 12 receiving leader Erik Ezukanma, Texas Tech has boasted a 100-yard receiver in all four games this season. It marks the first time Texas Tech has had at least one player hit the 100-yard receiving mark in each of the first four games since 2015 when five different Red Raiders combined for the feat over the first six games – Devon Lauderdale (150 vs. Sam Houston State and 110 vs. TCU), Jakeem Grant (141 vs. UTEP, 126 vs. TCU and 166 vs. Iowa State), Reginald Davis (115 at Arkansas), Tony Brown (117 vs. Baylor) and Zach Austin (110 vs. Baylor).

 
COLOMBI NAMED STARTER FOR WEST VIRGINIA GAME

  • Henry Colombi was named Texas Tech’s starting quarterback immediately following the Texas game where he came on for an injured Tyler Shough, completing 17-of-23 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. Shough left the game in the second quarter and has been declared “out for several weeks” by head coach Matt Wells.
  • Colombi was the third-highest graded quarterback (93.0) by Pro Football Focus for his performance against Texas. He trailed only the grades of Alabama starter Bryce Young (94.2) and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett (93.3)
  • Saturday will mark the second-consecutive year Colombi has made his first start of the season against West Virginia. His 2020 outing against the Mountaineers marked the first collegiate start of Colombi’s career as he completed 22-of-28 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown en route to leading the Red Raiders back from as much as a 10-point deficit.
  • Texas Tech was 2-2 in games Colombi started a year ago as he led the Red Raiders to a win not only over West Virginia but also Baylor late in the season. Colombi rotated possessions in the Baylor game with fellow quarterback Alan Bowman as he finished 9-of-15 overall for 76 yards in the win. He also made starts during the year at Oklahoma and at TCU.
  • Colombi made his debut as a Red Raider at Kansas State a year ago as the then-junior replaced an injured Alan Bowman on Texas Tech’s second offensive drive of the afternoon. Colombi helped lead the Red Raiders back from a 14-point halftime deficit with two touchdown passes in the second half before finishing 30-of-42 overall for 244 yards. He followed by completing 10-of-12 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown after entering the game late at Iowa State.
  • Colombi arrived at Texas Tech in the weeks leading up to the 2020 season after transferring from Utah State where he previously played under then-head coach Matt Wells from 2017-18. Colombi was granted an NCAA waiver to make him immediately eligible for 2020 season. He was later named an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection following his debut season as a Red Raider.
  • Accuracy has been a key theme for Colombi over his career as he completed 76.8 percent of his passes (53-of-69) at Utah State and then 66.8 percent of his attempts (127-of-190) so far as a Red Raider. Colombi completed his Utah State tenure with 460 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while also rushing for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns off 27 carries as a back-up for future first round NFL Draft pick Jordan Love.

 
POTENT NOTABLES (DEFENSE EDITION)

  • Six different Red Raiders have picked off a pass so far this season as Texas Tech currently lead the Big 12 and rank tied for 10th nationally with six interceptions. The Red Raiders have not had six different players with an interception in a season, yet alone the first four games, since 2017 when 10 players picked off a pass.
  • Texas Tech notched four interceptions in the win over Houston, its most in a game since the Red Raiders picked off five passes against SMU early in the 2008 season. The Red Raiders are one of four schools who have notched at least four interceptions in a game this season, joining Tennessee, Troy and Kent State, the final one of which has done so twice already.
  • Texas Tech’s six interceptions this season are already one more than its entire total from the 2020 campaign. It marks the most interceptions for the Red Raider defense through four games since Texas Tech had eight at the same point of the 2010 campaign.
  • Reggie Pearson Jr. has been a welcome addition to the defense as the Wisconsin transfer ranks second on the team with 22 tackles and has helped in the takeaway category with an interception versus Houston and a forced fumble (recovered by offense).
  • Texas Tech limited Houston to 251 yards of total offense in the season opener, and FIU to 246 yards of total offense in the third game of the season. Looking back to the season finale of 2020 against Kansas, the Red Raiders held opponents under 300 yards three times in a four-game stretch. UH only totaled 53 yards of total offense in the second half and went no where on the ground with negative-18 yards. Similarly against FIU, Tech limited the opposition to 52 yards of total offense, including zero total yards in the fourth quarter.
  • Keith Patterson, a strict believer in cross training his defense at different positions, rotated defensive lineman Tony Bradford Jr. and Jaylon Hutchings at nose guard this spring after the two combined for 51 tackles a year ago, including 9.0 that went for a loss and 2.0 sacks. The move was a switch for Bradford, who can still play the tackle position as part of Texas Tech’s defensive front. The duo each recorded a sack in the season opener against Houston with Hutchings adding another against SFA.
  • Riko Jeffers has 26.0 tackles for loss over his career as his 8.5 stops behind the line a year ago was one shy of his career high. Jeffers has 240 tackles for his career after totaling at least 55 tackles in each of the last three season, including two with 70 or more stops. He currently ranks third on the team with 20 tackles this season, which includes one tackle for loss, which came via a sack at Houston.





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