Reason #1: Sam Bradford: 468 Yards Passing
The Kansas pass defense hasn't been real good (I know, there's little room to talk here), but last week, OU and Sam Bradford rolled up, and I mean rolled up, 468 yards of offense through the air. That's with Bradford only connecting on 67% of his passes. Get Harrell back here completing 80% of his passes and it could be a long day for the Jayhawk defense. Kansas is giving up over 250 yards a game with some awful, and I mean awful performances by their opponents. Florida International (73), Louisiana Tech (119) and Colorado (147) are some pretty awful passing teams (ranked in the 90's or above), but the relatively proficient passing teams like South Florida (338), Sam Houston St. (340), and the aforementioned OU game are indicators that KU is having a tough time controlling opposing quarterbacks and a good indicator that Texas Tech will have quite a bit of success on Saturday.
Reason #2: Texas Tech is Figuring Out A Way
This is a little bit of a flimsy premise, but thus far, it's proven true. The Red Raiders have figured it out, whether it be on offense or on defense, and much of the credit goes to Captain Leach and Ruffin McNeill for either making adjustments or for players simply making plays. Against TAMU I thought Leach and McNeill coached one hell of a 2nd half, as Leach called a game where Texas Tech held onto the ball for long stretches of the game, while Ruffin McNeill backed off and let his front 4 players make plays on the defense. In either example, they both could have gambled, but they decided to dance with the one who brought them thus far this season (i.e. letting the defensive line do the dirty work, and allowing Batch's running and Woods' blocking to carry this team in the 2nd half).
Reason #3: Controlling the Line of Scrimmage
I don't think I've ever felt more comfortable with this statement, both offensively and defensively in a really long time. I said it on Sunday morning, but the Texas Tech offensive line is absolutely killing defenders right now, giving Harrell more free time than he knows what to do. The funny thing is that the line struggled early. Think back to Nevada when it seemed that Harrell was unable to get off a clean throw. But now, it's different. Harrell has plenty of time and much of the credit should go to the overall health of the left side of the line, including a Rylan Reed who finally looks good and Louis Vasquez who seems to have gotten over any injury that was holding him back early in the season. And we would be remiss without mentioning the solid job that Stephen Hamby has done on the line and Marlon Winn and Brandon Carter have grown into dominating that right side of the line. Winn has matured by leaps and bounds and Carter looks more athletic than I recall him being last year. On the defensive line Richard Jones is filling in nicely for an injured Rajon Henley. Jones gets credit for stopping the Aggies on the 3rd down play near the goal line, while Colby Whitlock is as active a defensive lineman as I've seen in the Big 12. And don't forget Chris Perry, who got his first bit of playing time on Saturday and I could have sworn that he was awfully close, or did make a nice play against TAMU. Couple those two guys with the pass rushing abilities of Brandon Williams, McKinner Dixon, Brandon Sesay and Daniel Howard on the ends and you've a pretty nice mix of players.
Reason #4: Pick a Receiver, Any Receiver
This is really not fair. I cannot recall a time where there have been so many incredible athletes at the receiver position. Seriously, I cannot recall a particular time in recent Texas Tech history that there were so many options available at receiver. I had an inkling that the offense would struggle a bit without Crabtree available in the 2nd half, but with Tramain Swindall, Detron Lewis, Rashad Hawk, Lyle Leong and Jacoby Franks, all are ready and available to step in and make plays. Immediately. And these aren't your typical Texas Tech over-achieving receivers, these are all over six feet and can run like the wind type of receivers. If I were a defensive coordinator, I know that I'd want to keep Mr. Crabtree contained, but who do you focus on after that?
Reason #5: Harrell is Pretty Good
This probably goes without saying, but I thought it was important to talk a little about Graham Harrell's performance on Saturday. As mentioned Sunday, it wasn't perfect and that pass to no one in the middle of the field is still probably stuck in everyone's head, and everytime I say this I get burned, but perhaps Harrell has turned a corner. Maybe . . . if this was last year, Harrell gets flustered and throws 4 picks for the day. That's the kind of day that can sink this offense and Texas Tech. But he didn't. Harrell stayed patient, took advantage of an Aggie defense that initially dropped 8 into coverage, but then started to blitz. Harrell usually has trouble with teams dropping so may defenders into coverage, but this time he just waited it out until someone got open or until he could throw it away or he deferred to Baron Batch and Shannon Woods. Stay patient Grashopper. Stay patient.
Check back tomorrow for 5 Reasons Texas Tech Will Lose: Kansas Edition.