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Looking @ Texas Tech Football

My 2009 Tech preview

The Tortilla Retort weighed in on Tech's Rice consumption.

Double T Nation offers their own take on their contest against the Chinaman's staple.

Tech Offense

Taylor Potts has a big arm, an exquisite moustache, 77 credit hours towards his trucking license, and will one day marry a girl named Candi. He struggled in Tech's first game against a school from an unincorporated Indian reservation., but Potts played well against Rice, lighting up the Owls for 6 TDs. This is his first road game as a starter and the timing couldn't be better for us. College GameDay, 101,000 fans, a different game speed, and a national broadcast have a way of making an impression.

While Mike Crabtree negotiates with the 49ers based on his cousin's Yahoo Fantasy Draft projections, Tech has diversified their passing game and they've got six guys that they're comfortable with. This is Tech and the receiving cast of characters never changes - only the names.

As usual, we have:

How Did That Caucasian Get Open - Zouzalik
Skinny Guy That Mysteriously Defies Injury - Leong
Where Does Leach Find These Effective Hispanic Players - Torres
Speedster With Bad Hands That Vasher Would Knock Unconscious - Britton
A Dude Seemingly Named After A Decepticon - Detron Lewis
Steady Mover Of Chains As If He Were Caucasian But Is Not - Swindall

Detron Lewis is their best guy but he's dinged and it's unclear as to how healthy he'll be in Austin. Tech's ball distribution is good and I wouldn't anticipate an injury to any one guy hamstringing them too badly.

Amusingly, Tech probably has better RB personnel than we do. Baron Batch, Harrison Jeffers, Eric Stephens are all quality. Not that Tech's running game would suggest it - the Raiders aren't running the ball at all (33 total attempts so far) and they're struggling when they do it (2.8 yards per attempt). They're using them in the passing game though and it's clear to me that Leach was going intentionally pass heavy to speed Potts' preparation.

The Tech OL doesn't seem to be asserting itself much in the run game and they're still looking for combinations that they like. An OL that hasn't fully jelled combined with the aforementioned QB inexperience on the road gives knowledgeable Tech fans some pause. They need to find some ways to hurt us running the ball and with the shovel and screen game or it's going to get violent in the Red Raider backfield.

How We Defend

This will be an interesting game for Muschamp and our defense because we'll have a lot of looks that we can run out there and the experience in our secondary will allow us to be more complex across the board. We'll situationally play a lot of DEs inside and LBs at DE and that will give us pressure and depth options. Lamarr Houston is absolutely key - he needs to set the LOS in the run game and get some pressure inside. It's not easy to collapse Tech's pocket, but I like Lamarr sprinting a gap against Tech's interior OL any time.

Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho should see heavy minutes along with Muck. Kindle will make an impact and I expect him to line up all over the field.

Our secondary will be much better prepared and our schemes more varied than last year. I see Muschamp predominantly playing Aaron Williams, Chykie Brown and Curtis Brown in man under with Gideon and Thomas deep, but I'm sure we'll tinker with zone and straight man as well. Wyoming was a prep game for that strategy and a useful scout team for us. Gideon will need to be protected some and we'll give up some stuff in front of him, but you have to like Thomas as a hero-back free to anticipate and roam. Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams' growth as players are key here. Sure tackles and no YAC, guys.

This is a game where we'll miss Christian Scott. Not only for the depth that he provides, but because of what he can offer in run support without sacrificing coverage. The nature of Tech's offense gives a safety three kill shot opportunities a game and Scott is the guy I'd like taking them. Pity.

Tech Defense

I'm not sure what to make of this group as they've played well against poor competition (11.5 ppg, 232 yards per game, 8 sacks registered), but a directional Dakota and a Rice team devastated by graduation doesn't tell you much. We may have found the only team in D-1 with a less challenging schedule than we've had.

I'm still convinced that Tech's losses in the secondary from last year will be problematic for them, particularly as they match their #3 and #4 coverage guys against players like Dan Buckner and Malcolm Williams. That's a bad hand for Tech to play and DC Ruffin McNeill's default response to being outmanned is generally to play bend-but-don't-break. Given Colt's composure and our offensive efficiency at home, that doesn't bode well for them.

DE Rajon Henley is banged up and that would be a big loss for Tech's depth at DE if he can't go 100% - they fall off of a pretty steep quality cliff after their starters. The interior DL is solid and we'll probably postpone traditional running game success a bit until we can wear them down from chasing Colt. They're getting good play out of their LBs, but I don't know if that means lights have turned on or if it's reflective of the opponents.

How We Offend

Our WRs are better than their DBs and the difference grows more marked the more WRs we run out there. I don't think Tech is going to force many issues on us if we spread it out and play aggressively from the start. OL protection struggles are the only thing that I can think of derailing us and putting us in negative situations. If McNeill defends us the way I believe, our offensive output will rest primarily on our ability to convert in the red zone, avoid dumb turnovers and penalties, and get 6 instead of 3.

Special Teams

I think we've got an advantage here, despite our punting game gaffes in Laramie. I expect a touchdown or a long return out of the kicking game. Monroe, Shipley, Williams are some pretty explosive guys running around back there and we've got some quality athletes around them.

Final Thoughts

Tech hasn't beaten us in Austin since 1997. Mack Brown is 8-3 against them overall. Our home games have played out thusly:

2007 - 59-43
2005- 52-17
2003- 43-40
2001- 42-7
1999 - 58-7

The predictable constant is that we put up points. The variable is how well our defense plays. I expect both to come through and for us to get a comfortable win.