December 4, 2007

Red Raiders will try and maintain momentum

For the vast majority of the 2007 football season, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were like a '74 Plymouth spinning its wheels in a muddy bar-ditch. The engine raced, the car would start to climb out of the ravine, only to slide back in. The Red Raiders would throw it into reverse in an attempt to break out in the opposite direction, but could never really get out of the rut.

Until the Oklahoma game.

Tech was then placed on the grandest media stage the program had seen in decades and was given one final chance to surge out of the doldrums that had entrapped them the entire season.

We all know what happened. The Red Raiders finally gained the traction they had sought in vain all year and mowed down the Sooners like polecats trying to cross Loop 289 during rush hour.

Now that Tech has broken free from the mire, the task at hand is to sustain the momentum for one more game-the Gator Bowl against the University of Virginia-and then carry it into preparations for 2008.

But all of this momentum the Red Raiders are accruing would have been impossible if the team had tanked following a four-game stretch in which they lost three very frustrating contests with Missouri, Colorado and Texas. Tech could have shut her down, but instead rallied to make something of the season.

Junior quarterback Graham Harrell certainly likes the resiliency his team showed after that dismal slide.

"…those were tough losses for us, you know, it kind of was a setback for us and the season and I thought we rebounded from it well. A lot of people felt like we could have lost four out of the last five," he notes.

"We played well against Texas but they just out-executed us and then we went out and beat Oklahoma to finish the season, kind of got big momentum and got us back in New Year's Day bowl contention."

And Big Mo' riding shotgun with the Red Raiders should pay dividends above and beyond the clash with Virginia. According to interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, the momentum plays an invaluable role in recruiting and off-season attitudinizing as well.

"I think it [momentum] is very big. Graham mentioned the victory against Oklahoma that carried us into this part of recruiting--three-week part. And the bowl game not only helps recruiting, it's also an off-season with our players," McNeill offers.

"Winning four out of our last five bowl games has helped, and we've seen it develop our team with the mentality going into the off-season with Benny, and recruiting, going into recruits' homes after a victory, especially, this being a New Year's Day game, and hopefully coming out of that game with a victory, I hope it will aid in our recruiting and I know it aids in our team mentality during the off-season."

Now that the Red Raiders have captured the elusive substance known as momentum, it is crucial that they retain it over the coming weeks and transfer it to the playing field against the Cavaliers. If they do so, they will most likely win the game and bring home a treasure trove for the Tech program in the form of a recruiting bonanza and a spirited and productive off-season.

With all of that high-octane fuel then stowed away, the 2008 Red Raiders could be a veritable steamroller crashing pell-mell down a mountain road. And woe betide the teams that get in their way.

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