Know Your Enemy: Keys to the Texas Tech Red Raiders
There's no way to sugarcoat it. Texas dodged a bullet last week in Lawrence in their come-from-behind win against Kansas. This week, the No. 23 Longhorns hit the road again to play an angry 18th-ranked Texas Tech team looking for some payback. The teams are both 6-2 and tied for third place in the Big 12 with a 3-2 conference record. Texas needs a win against a quality opponent more than ever to slow down the growing cry to remove Mack Brown, and a win against Texas Tech could drown out some of the complaints. As we stated on Halloween, it's important to remember Texas is 6-2 this season and the season is still young.
Playing against Texas Tech in Lubbock is often a wild ride, and no Texas fan can forget when Michael Crabtree and the Red Raiders pistol-whipped the then No. 1 Longhorns' title hopes in 2008 with a last-second 39-33 win. Since then, Texas Tech has been shooting blanks and the Longhorns have won three straight in the rivalry. The Red Raiders are out for blood after losing soundly to No. 2 Kansas State, but which Red Raiders could hit their target against the Longhorns? Horns Illustrated is here to let you know. It's time to "Know Your Enemy."
Fans of the Oregon Ducks will tell you half of the fun of college football comes from guessing what the teams' uniforms will look like. Texas Tech is getting in the action, unveiling new Under Armour "Lone Star Pride" unis Saturday.
A Familiar Story
Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense are long gone but Texas Tech still possesses one of the most explosive offenses in college football. The Red Raiders score 40.5 points a game, 12th-best in the nation.
Hit the Road, Mack
No, we're not cheering for Mack Brown to be let go, who has a stellar record against Texas Tech. Texas is 11-3 against the Red Raiders with Brown at the helm, but all three losses have come in Lubbock. Just saying.
On your marks, Get Seth, Go!
Seth Doege struggled as a junior in his game against Texas but he's no joke as a senior. Doege has grown as a leader and passer, and the sixth-ranked passer in the nation is continuing the long tradition of prolific passers at Texas Tech. The senior QB has thrown for over 2,500 yards and an FBS-leading 30 touchdowns already and you should expect him to throw at least 30 times against Texas.
Shame on Texas Tech for using "Call Me Maybe" to promote Doege's Heisman run. That might be enough alone to remove him from consideration.
Doege is also a former teammate of Texas' Mason Walters, when they played at Frenshep High. We nearly called it a "Frenshep friendship" but didn't want to get punched by Walters or Doege next time we see them.
Sophomore Kenny Williams has plenty of power and is the running back Texas must key on. Williams averages 6.1 yards a carry and is tough to bring down, not the player you want to go up against when considering Texas' recent habit of tackling poorly. While Texas Tech's offense is known for beating teams through the air, Williams offers one heck of a counter-punch by beating up on defenders already playing on their heels with respect for the pass.
With that said, Williams has never rushed for more than 105 yards. If he does so against Texas, it would be the sixth time an opposing running back has set a career high against Texas. The Longhorns are giving up a conference worst 259 rushing yards a game so it could happen.
Catch Them if You Can
Eric Ward and Darrin Moore's receiving numbers are amazingly similar, as the former has 41 receptions and 10 touchdowns and the latter 43 receptions and 8 TD's.
While Ward is the more complete receiver, Moore is a 6'4" receiver with the body of a tight end with more athleticism. On tape, he reminds us of the big bodied NFL tight ends like Jimmy Graham. That's not to say he will ever be as good as a player of Graham's caliber, but Moore is having a career year. It's nice to see from the transfer our of Blinn.
Balance to the Force
The Texas Tech defense is a bit of a puzzle. One week they're exposing Geno Smith and the then No. 5 West Virginia offense. Then they get steamrolled by Kansas State. So which Texas Tech defense will show up against Texas?
Texas Tech's defense is twelfth-best in the nation in terms of yardage but are 57th in the nation in points allowed, giving up 25 points a game. Points can be had against them, and they are giving up 35 points a game in Big 12 conference play. We might be in for a shootout Saturday.
Leader of the Pack
Cody Davis, a senior strong safety, has helped the Red Raiders defense rise out of mediocrity and leads the team with 64 tackles and 3 interceptions. Humble and heady, Davis always seems to be near the ball when the whistle's blown. Coaches love consistency and Davis is one of the most reliable defenders in the Big 12. Watch his style of play and tell me you couldn't see him as a New England Patriot.
Fifty Shades of Gray
We're guessing that tagline gets the lady Longhorn fans revved up, but simmer down. Our minds aren't going into the gutter, just showing how freshman sensation Johnathan Gray connects the dots of history between UT and Texas Tech. Gray had a breakout game last week, rushing for a season-high 111 yards, and hopes to follow in his father's footsteps. The elder James Gray rushed for 4,066 yards at Texas Tech and still ranks as second best in the school's history. Texas would be ecstatic if Johnathan Gray finishes his career with the second-most rushing yards in UT history. Anything's possible, right?