November 23, 2011

Tech talks emotion in game

If Texas Tech doesn't beat Baylor Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium, the football careers of guys like running back Aaron Crawford are almost definitely over.

All the more reason to be playing for one more game -- even on a high ankle sprain in Crawford's case.

"The adrenaline of playing helps, but I would say it's more about not leaving my teammates out there," Crawford said. "Yeah it hurts, but it's kind of like you don't have any choice but to go out there and help with your teammates. If I couldn't move, I wouldn't move but I'd be trying. That's just the kind of person I am."

The Red Raiders promise to fight Baylor tooth and nail Saturday to get a sixth win on the season. Earning six wins is the minimum requirement to receive an invitation to a bowl game.

Defensive end Leon Mackey says there's no choice but to win. In order for the Red Raiders to have a shot, however, Mackey and other guys on the Tech defensive front are going to have to play their best game of the season and contain perhaps the nation's most lethal dual-threat quarterback in Baylor's Robert Griffin.

"I feel like this is do or die," Mackey said. We've got to. We've got to win. We don't, and the seniors especially don't, want to be a part of a team that didn't go to a bowl game for the first time in years. After I got home from Missouri, I was just like 'man.' I just thought 'I've got to step it up just more.'

"If we want to win, we have to recognize we're not doing enough. There's always more do to."

If the Red Raiders can pull off the upset, they're going to do it shorthanded all over the ball.

At the running back position, only Crawford and true freshman Kenny Williams are expected to play consistently. The receiving corps took a major blow when Alex Torres was lost in the Missouri game with a torn ACL. Defensive tackle Donald Langley is out for the season which further complicates Tech's ability to defend against the run.

And the Red Raiders are using converted receivers at cornerback in Cornelius Douglas and Happiness Osunde. Both players will most likely finish their careers at cornerback when they return as seniors next year.

"The transition is about half-and-half for me," Douglas said. "Technique wise, how I have my feet and all that is a little more instinct. When I get in trouble, that's instinct. Out there covering, I go to the coaches a lot and am trying to get down everything and know what to do."

That being said, head coach Tommy Tuberville said the defense is better when Douglas is on the field. Douglas forced a fumble on what was sure to be a game-tying Missouri touchdown in the first quarter of last week's game. The fumble allowed Tech to get up 14-0 and nearly hang on for win No. 6 last week.

"You just have to go out and make plays," Douglas said. "I don't know if the defense is better with me, but you just go out there and make plays. People do tend to feed on that and lately I've been making plays. Maybe they are picking up on it, but you know, we're just going into this next game hoping to make a whole lot more plays."

There's really not much of a second option.

"There's no panic," Crawford said. "We know we can win this game. We've got guys that can play. This is D-1, not high school, so we've got capable guys all over the ball. It's just a matter of who's going to step up, execute and win the game for us."

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