Possibly overlooked in Texas Tech’s season-opening, 35-33 victory last week against Houston Baptist was this item: T.J. Vasher tied a single-game career high with eight catches.
Having a crystal ball and that knowledge a month ago would’ve put Tech fans’ minds at rest. The senior wide receiver missed time early in preseason practice to take care of academic matters.
“I was just finishing up some credits, getting on track,” Vasher said during a Zoom conference Tuesday after practice. “For me, graduating in December is important. The coaches, my advisers, we put a plan together for me to do that and come back to ball and be ready for the season.”
Vasher could have reset his career high except for one dropped pass. Otherwise, he looked ready in the opener, catching eight passes for 79 yards.
“I felt good,” he said. “I felt fluid, felt like we were a working machine. I’m ready or us to stretch the ball some more and start making those big plays, those explosives that we look for.”
This could be the week, based on Vasher’s track record. Tech hosts No. 8 Texas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and Vasher has had the best games of his career against the Longhorns.
Three years ago in Austin, Tech beat Texas 27-23 with Vasher catching five passes for 127 yards — still his career high — and a fourth-quarter touchdown that cut into a 23-13 deficit. Two years ago in Lubbock, the Longhorns got out with a 41-34 victory, but Vasher caught eight passes for 87 yards and two TDs.
That eight-catch game is the career-high that Vasher matched last week.
It was a solid start to a senior season, a season in which the Red Raiders hope Vasher can break out to a new level. The past three seasons, he’s averaged 42 catches and produced a tight range of numbers: 545 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, 687 yards and seven TDs in 2018, 515 yards and six TDs in 2019.
Solid production, but three career 100-yard games is not what Tech fans dreamed of when the Red Raiders signed Vasher as a blue-chip recruit from Wichita Falls Rider.
To reach that higher level of production, he says he’ll keep working the plan.
“I feel like for me it’s all kind of been the same thing, at least for the past few years: establishing that consistency, being a leader in my room and taking over and being a dominant receiver in this offense,” he said. “I feel like that’s what I’m ready to do and that’s what I’m here to do this year.”