MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Shortly after Texas Tech’s football season ends Tuesday night at the Liberty Bowl, many staff will immediately turn to their next jobs.

Sonny Cumbie will be head coach at Louisiana Tech, Jake Brown will serve as offensive coordinator, Keith Patterson will be head coach at Abilene Christian University and Derek Jones and Joel Filani have vacancies at Virginia Tech and Washington State respectively. . .

However, they all got off the bus when the Red Raiders drove to the Sheraton Memphis Downtown on Christmas afternoon to begin preparations for the on-sight bowl.

Not that that was never the plan. In late October, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt asked Matt Wells’ lame staff to see the season with the Red Raiders, and only special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl didn’t. He left for a job at TCU.

“It’s a challenge,” said Cumbie, the Red Raiders’ interim head coach since Wells was sacked on Oct. 25. “It’s a challenge for everyone to stay focused, but I think at the end of this thing that our coaches are very, very, very passionate about these Texas Tech players and understand that for the three to four or Next five days, let’s lock ourselves in and do our best where we’re headed, but do good by these players, do good by these kids.

“That’s what we told them six weeks ago when this all happened: we’re going to give you everything we have every day.”

Tech (6-6) and Mississippi State (7-5) meet for the first time since the 1970 regular season at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Tech is a 10-1 / 2-point underdog, with the Red Raiders’ task made more difficult by the decision of top receiver Erik Ezukanma to declare himself for the NFL Draft and skip the bowl game.

Cumbie said he had a good idea development was coming and found out for sure about a week ago. Ezukanma announced it on Thursday.

Real freshman Jerand Bradley and sophomore Trey Cleveland, Cumbie said, will get shots to fill Ezukanma’s place.

“We have guys out there who are hungry,” Cumbie said, “and now you have an opportunity and we’ll see how JB and Trey do.”

Mississippi State will be without two top players: offensive tackle Charles Cross, a potential first-round pick, declared for the draft last week. Cornerback Martin Emerson, a 28-game starter and an American winner last year by Pro Football Focus, has stepped down, Bulldogs coach Mike Leach said on Saturday.

The Red Raiders trained in unusually hot December weather in Lubbock, and perfect conditions greeted them as they arrived in Memphis. Saturday’s high was 76 degrees and the forecast calls for temperatures to persist from the mid-1970s through game day.

Liberty Bowl officials have asked both teams to arrive on Christmas Day, but three days before the game is a short week compared to most bowl trips.

In a typical week with a Saturday game, teams typically have their most intensive training on Tuesday and Wednesday and switch to lighter training.

The Red Raiders had their two intensive practices this week at home, got Christmas Eve and planned a Christmas party at the team hotel. They practice again Sunday noon at Christian Brothers High School.

Carde returns

Technical offensive lineman Ethan Carde, the unit’s best reserve both on guard and tackle before he injured his lower leg in early November, could return if needed, Cumbie said.

The injury was initially thought to be potentially the end of the season, but it did not require surgery and Carde returned to training in the pads.

Execution game considerations

Aside from being Tech’s primary receiver, Ezukanma was also effective in the Red Raiders’ jet-sweeping game, carrying 10 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Cumbie said he won’t give up using receivers in the racing game, although none have done as well as Ezukanma, who is 6ft 3in, 220lb and frequently broken tackles.

“He was so difficult to face,” Cumbie said, “and he had a great sense of putting his blocks in place on those reaction sweeps and on the reading game. We’ll keep doing that. Just try to find out. another guy to put in his shoes who can do it on this end of the field. “

Carry contest

SaRodorick Thompson fumbled at the end of Tech’s first offensive play in the regular season finale at Baylor, then didn’t wear it again. Against Mississippi State, Cumbie said he expects each of the Red Raiders’ top three rushers to have chances.

Tahj Brooks ran for 461 yards and six touchdowns, Thompson for 420 yards and nine touchdowns and Xavier White for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

“We’ve all got our guys ready to ride,” said Cumbie, “so these three guys are really going to handle the heavy workload with Tahj and SaRodorick and then we’ll be using X like we’ve been doing this season.

“I think Tahj played really well at the end of the season. SaRodorick fumbled the opener against Baylor, but we got past that and he’s had some good practice as well. I think those two guys, with the ability to X to mess people up and Tahj and SaRodorick’s ability – they’re not fun guys to go up against – so we want to let these guys go see who’s got a hot hand. “

college football

Which: Texas Tech v State of Mississippi

When: 5:45 p.m. Tuesday

Or: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee

Recordings: Texas Tech 6-6, Mississippi State 7-5

Tipico sports betting line: Mississippi State by 10 1/2. Over-under: 59 1/2 points.


Quick fact: Mississippi State coach Mike Leach is 150-102 in 20 seasons, 8-8 in Bowls. That includes an 84-43 record with a 5-4 bowl record at Texas Tech.

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