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Three Things Sonny Cumbie Said Entering the Red Raiders’ Game against OSU

On sneaky Sanders, OSU’s defense and Tech’s QB situation.



[Jackson Lavarnway/PFB

For the second straight week, the Cowboys are facing a coach with the interim tag.

Sonny Cumbie took over at Texas Tech following Matt Wells’ firing Oct. 25. The Red Raiders have gone 1-1 since, after picking up an upset win against Iowa State on Saturday. Cumbie met with reporters via Zoom on Sunday night. Here are three things he mentioned as it pertains to Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State.

1. ‘Sneaky’ Sanders

Spencer Sanders’ last expedition to Lubbock did not go well.

As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Sanders turned the ball over five times in the land of the flying tortillas, throwing three interceptions and fumbling twice. But, that was a long time ago. Sanders has grown rapidly over the course of this season alone, having thrown only one interception to eight touchdowns in OSU’s past four games.

Many opposing coaches have raved about Sanders’ ability to use his feet, but Cumbie used some adjectives that others haven’t this season: sneaky and gutsy.

“Spencer Sanders continues to make plays,” Cumbie said. “He’s really sneaky. He’s a playmaker with his arm. He’s a playmaker as far as extending plays and a really, really gutsy quarterback.”

2. OSU’s Veteran Defense

OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles was named a nominee for the Broyles Award on Monday, given to the best assistant coach in college football.

Cumbie, like many others who have faced Knowles’ defense this season, noted the Cowboys’ skill and experience on that side of the ball. Not only are the Pokes best in the Big 12 in points allowed per game (16.9) and yards allowed per game (282.8), but the Cowboys have also gotten to opposing quarterbacks 15 times in the past two games.

Tech’s season-low for scoring was the 21 points the Red Raiders managed against Oklahoma, given how this season has gone for Knowles’ group, that could be in danger this weekend.

“Defensively, they’ve got so many seniors on that side of the ball that have played a lot of football,” Cumbie said. “Coach Knowles has done a great job of being multiple with his fronts and his coverages, which when you have older players, that allows you to do that.”

3. Donovan Smith Is the Guy

The Red Raiders have had rotten luck in keeping quarterbacks healthy this season, but the third man up sure took advantage of his opportunity this past weekend.

Oregon transfer Tyler Shough started the year for Tech before breaking his collarbone. Then came Henry Colombi who missed Saturday’s game against Iowa State because of an illness. Next came redshirt freshman Donovan Smith, who played a portion of Tech’s game against OU before starting against Iowa State.

Cumbie said Sunday night that he doesn’t expect Shough to be back this season and that Colombi will likely be available for the Oklahoma State game, but Smith is the starter.

Smith has completed 78% of this 59 pass attempts this season, throwing for 584 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Smith is a bulldozer of a quarterback, as he has also ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

The son of Tech’s running backs coach, DeAndre Smith, Donovan joined the Red Raiders as part of their 2020 recruiting class. He was a three-star recruit, listed as the No. 899 player in the cycle.

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