LUBBOCK (AP) – Not since Michael Crabtree left for the NFL has Texas Tech had a receiver average 100 yards a game.
These days, the Red Raiders’ passing attack is done with a stable of mostly unknown receivers, none of whom get gargantuan receiving yards as did Crabtree, who’s most remembered around here for his clutch catch with seconds remaining to beat No. 1 Texas in 2008. None is ranked highly nationally.
Recent injuries could hamper the receiving corps, however, and coach Tommy Tuberville said there will be a drop in production Saturday when the 18th-ranked Red Raiders play at TCU (5-1, 2-1), the schools’ first meeting in the Big 12.
“This year we’ve got some depth, but we’re going to start running out of it,” he said. “We run so many routes in practice, we run so many routes in games and we block and do all those things. Then all of a sudden you lose a couple guys and it kind of puts you in a tailspin.”
Two of the team’s top four receivers are out with injuries. Tuberville said tight end Jace Amaro, at 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds, is questionable for Saturday’s game. He got “mashed” during Texas Tech’s 49-14 win over then-No. 5 West Virginia last weekend and spent two nights in the hospital for observation, he said.
Amaro on Sunday, though, indicated on Twitter he probably won’t play in Fort Worth: “I know my team will hold it down for me this week!”
Javon Bell, the leader this season in receiving yards per game (67.2) fractured his foot in practice leading up to the Mountaineers game and is out for the season. Another receiver, Bradley Marquez, went out Saturday with a season-ending knee injury. Both will have surgery this week, Tuberville said.
No receivers were made available to the media this week.
Quarterback Seth Doege said he’s not concerned about being without Amaro, Marquez and Bell.
“We still have guys that can get the job done, that will step up and play well for us,” said Doege, who threw for six touchdowns and a career-high 499 yards in the West Virginia game. “We have all the confidence in the world in each guy that is going to play.”
The top four receivers, Darrin Moore, Eric Ward, Amaro and Bell, are each averaging 59 yards or more per game and have 17 of the team’s 23 passing touchdowns. None are ranked in the top 75 nationally in receiving yards.
Moore has seven touchdowns in 29 receptions this season — he had three TDs in the win over the Mountaineers — to lead the Red Raiders (5-1, 2-1).
Doege will also go to Alex Torres and Austin Zouzalik. But he’ll miss his biggest target, Amaro, who had a touchdown and a 61-yard reception that led to another score against the Mountaineers before his injury.
“He’s a big time player,” Doege said. “We for sure are going to miss him.”
Last season, injuries hurt the Red Raiders, especially during their five-game skid to close Texas Tech’s worst season in 19 years. As many as 18 players had surgeries because of those injuries.
Players and Tuberville are mindful of last year’s meltdown that followed a big win at Oklahoma as they move on from the victory over West Virginia.
“We did something nobody else thought we could do and we didn’t win another game,” Tuberville said of last season. “We’re a better team than we were last year, but we’re also a target. When you’re ranked as high as we are now and people see what you’ve done, you’re going to get their ‘A’ game.”
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