LUBBOCK – Texas Tech fifth-year senior kicker Trey Wolff lined up for a kickoff last Saturday against the University of Texas.
As he trotted on the field a sea of red surrounded him.
Oh my, he loved to see the Texas Tech football faithful out in force with a sold out crowd of 60,975 rockin’ The Jones as Tech had just scored to make it 7-7 nine minutes into the first quarter.
Wolff promptly booted the ball out of bounds. The absolute biggest no-nos for a kicker. The penalty set up Texas at the Tech 35-yard line.
Wolff is no stranger to Tech football having started back in 2018 as a redshirt on the scout team seeing no action. His freshman year he lit the lamp as one of the best kickers in the nation going a stellar 20 -of-22 on field goal attempts and hitting 40-of-41 extra points.
Last season as he junior all Wolff did was kickoff attempting no field goals and no extra points, basically having lost his kicking job.
So Wolff has been through it. Ups and downs with his confidence experiencing a personal roller-coaster ride. Glory days to basically benched.
As Wolff trotted off the field last Saturday, knowing he had screwed up with the kick out of bounds, his reaction was different from the previous years.
Any other year he would have beat himself up mentally over and over and over for that mistake. Not this time. This time the words “What’s next?” popped into his head as he made his way off the field.
What’s the big deal about “What’s next?”
Since the day Texas Tech hired Joey McGuire back last November to replace Matt Wells he has drilled in the heads of Wolff and his teammate to play with mindset of “What’s next?”
No matter what happens, Tech players have heard over and over from McGuire, you have to move on to What’s next?
“I think one of the biggest things that have helped me so much is when Coach McGuire preaches the ‘what’s next mentality,’ ” Wolff said after the Texas game. “And we are all ‘The Brand’ so if something good happens, what’s next? Erase that. If something bad happens, erase it. What’s next? When I started this GAME, I had a kickoff out of bounds and I just walked to the sidelines and acted like nothing happened because I knew there was a possibility that my team would need me.”
That first need arrived with 21 seconds remaining in regulation when Wolff stepped up and hit a clutch 45-yard field goal putting Texas Tech up 34-31.
That need then ended the game when Wolff made a 20-yard field goal in overtime handing Tech a stunning 37-34 overtime victory over No. 22-ranked Texas and setting off a frenzy at The Jones which included Tech students and fans rushing the field.
Wolff and his Tech teammates played with that “What’s Next” mentality throughout McGuire’s first signature win as the Tech head coach.
- Texas took all of 84 seconds to score quickly going up 7-0. Tech immediately answered with an 18-play, 75-yard scoring drive knotting the game at 7. What’s next?
- Tech looked headed for a loss falling behind 24-10 at halftime and still trailed 31-17 with 4:27 to play in the third when Texas star Bjian Robinson ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run. By the 7:54 mark of the 4th quarter Tech had the game tied at 31-31 on quarterback Donovan Smith’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Baylor Cupp. What’s next?
- Tech junior wide receiver Myles Price was Smith’s go-to throughout as he snagged 13 passes for 98 yards constantly bringing energy to the Tech’s offense. “For me it’s just, ‘What’s next,’ ”Price said after the game, his smile a room lighter. “For what Coach McGuire and the staff preaches to us, like, so what something happened to us? So we didn’t get into the end zone, so we are down 14, who cares? Go make a play. Everybody understands and everybody’s starting to believe in that. You can see it and it’s transferring onto the field.”
- Quarterback Smith himself had been so good at times in Tech’s opening three games and so bad at times in Tech’s opening three games. The 6-5, 230-pound sophomore from Frenship High was so good against Texas as Tech’s second leading rusher with 45 yards and threw a hefty 56 times for 331 yards and two TDs with a zero under interceptions. No doubt, Smith is a “What’s next” player for McGuire.
You get it now?
Texas Tech played Texas with a “What’s Next” mindset and will continue to under their excitable head coach McGuire.
Beating Texas was sweet for McGuire as his team moved to 3-1. For McGuire, however, beating the Longhorns and that infamous burnt orange wasn’t the best part of Saturday’s win.
As McGuire was interviewed on the field after the game by a reporter he was asked what it means to beat Texas.
“I said it doesn’t mean anything to beat Texas,” McGuire told his players in the locker room after the game. “We are 1-0 in the Big 12. That’s what it means.”
McGuire not only can flat out coach, but he can also flat out give a postgame speech. Listen in.
“I’m telling you right now the country is going to find out,” McGuire said, “everything runs through Lubbock. Everything runs through Lubbock.”
And, McGuire reminded his players what he has said from day one and will continue to say as long as he is head coach at Texas Tech.
“No matter what happens, What’s next?” McGuire said. “At any point in that game you could have quit. But you didn’t because you are built different. The more and more you believe that. The more this happens.”
Trey Wolff, Donovan Smith, Myles Price and their Red Raider teammates are believers.
They proved that Saturday against Texas.