Football Mythbusters: Longhorns, Red Raiders, and the Squib Kick

Hank K.Contributor INovember 2, 2008


The game between Texas Tech and Texas ended perfectly last night, with Texas overcoming a huge deficit and getting ahead by one point with a minute and a half to go, and Texas Tech then driving down the field and scoring a touchdown with only one second remaining.



I was kind of leaning towards the Longhorns to win this game, but I can't help but admit that game was crazy—in a good way.  In fact, it was probably the most exciting second half of football I've seen all year.

There's still one thing that could have made it perfect.

Remember after Tech scored the touchdown, and the fans flooded the field? A goalpost even started coming down, those guys were that wild.

The referees saw this, and penalized Tech for unsportsmanlike conduct. They were then supposed to kick off from their own 15-yard line.

The Tech fans were still going crazy, so Tech was penalized again for unsportsmanlike conduct. This time the penalty was for half the distance to the goal, so Tech now had to kick off from their own seven and a half yard line.

Lined up to return the kickoff was Jordan Shipley, who had already returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown this season against Oklahoma, and he had also returned a punt for a touchdown earlier that night against Texas Tech.

So the Red Raiders were kicking off 22 and a half yards further back than a normal kickoff, and an explosive kick/punt returner was lined up to take it.

The whole game depended on whether or not Shipley could return that ball for a touchdown.

And then Tech squib-kicked it.

For those of you who may not be familiar with a squib kick, it is a short, low kickoff that bounces off the ground a lot.  It usually isn't used in the middle of a game, because it gives the returning team very good field position.  However, as soon as it hits the ground, it starts taking time off of the clock.

I've never been a fan of the squib kick: teams often use it because they don't want to risk the ball being returned for a touchdown.  My favorite part of football to watch is kick and punt returns, so I don't enjoy something like the squib kick that takes the fun out of watching it.

Texas Tech actually used the squib kick perfectly.  Given the situation they were in, a squib kick was the exact play they needed to make.  Not all teams employ the squib kick as wisely.  Just ask the Chicago Bears.

They had just scored a touchdown and were winning by 20-19 with eleven seconds left.  Instead of kicking it deep and pinning the Falcons back in their own territory, the squib-kicked it. The Falcons got the ball at their own 45, Matt Ryan threw the ball just far enough to put the Falcons in field-goal range, and the Falcons kicked a field goal as time ran out, winning 22-20.

Texas Tech used the squib kick well, so I can't fault them for "ruining" the last second of the game.  However, I would like to know why the clock runs even if nobody touches the ball on a squib kick.  On a normal kickoff, does the clock start to run as soon as the ball touches the ground, too?

Either way, an objective football fan would have to admit, it would have been pretty cool if Jordan Shipley had gotten a chance to return the kickoff with one second left on the clock...


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