5 Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Win and 5 Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Lose will be a weekly post, but this week, because of the bye, we focus on why DTN thinks Texas Tech will win and lose the Big 12 South. Comments, criticisms and thoughts appreciated.
Reason #1: The Bad Loss
We've talked about the bad loss before on DTN and every year, there seems to be a loss to a bad team that makes Red Raider fans want to pull out their hair. We're all hoping that things have changed and this year will be different, but if history tells us anything, it's that this team will be due for a bad loss, and it will be when it's least expected (please don't let it be Texas A&M) and it will be devastating.
Reason #2: Total Defense Isn't Up To Par
The yards bother me. Despite being more stingy the defense is still 62nd in the nation and 8th in the conference in the Big 12. Texas Tech has played some pretty good offensive teams thus far, but they've all been relatively weak teams generally. The offenses in the Big 12 will be a big step up in talent and I'm not sold that the Texas Tech defense will be able to stop opposing offenses. Perhaps the number that gives me the greatest concern is the pass defense, which is giving 246 yards a game, which is 95th in the nation and 9th in the Big 12.
Reason #3: Unhealthy Offensive Line
One of the biggest reasons for Texas Tech's success last year was that the team fielded one of the best offensive lines in the country, especially in terms of keeping Harrell upright through a game. Rylan Reed is still recovering from an ankle injury in the Gator Bowl and Louis Vasquez still isn't quite himself, sitting out the UMass game. That's your entire left side and the most important in protecting Harrell. Opposing defenses only managed 15 sacks all of last year. When Stephen Hamby has moved over to guard with Shawn Byrnes replacing him at center, the offense has struggled a bit to protect Harrell. Granted, this year the offense has only given up 1 sack in 4 games, but the relative strength of those teams is relatively weak. Texas Tech needs Reed and Vasquez to be at 100% in order for this team to have a chance at the Big 12 South title.
Reason #4: Harrell Is Off
Graham Harrell just hasn't been himself. There have been numerous instances where Harrell has tried to force the ball deep, throwing up passes to receivers that just weren't there. Harrell's been prone to having a bad game and so far it hasn't happened, but Harrell's inconsistencies are troubling. I think this is a minor point, being one that the national media may not see, but it's one that Texas Tech fans will certainly can see that he just hasn't been playing up to his 2007 standards. It's been nice to see Harrell defer to his running backs, but in order for the Texas Tech offense to hum like we're accustomed to seeing, Harrell needs to be better. I'm confident that any issues that he's had will be remedied, but for now, I'm a little worried.
Reason #5: Carona-Extra Point
Saying that freshman kicker Donnie Carona has struggled would be an understatement. So much so that Mike Leach asked a student who kicked a field goal during the UMass game to try out for the team. Carona is only 1-5 kicking field goals, the longest being 35 yards, and has had 2 of those field goals blocked. Not to mention, Carona has already missed 2 Carona-extra points. So far, this hasn't been a huge problem, but at some point during the season a game will be on the line and Leach is either going to allow Carona to kick or he's going to go for it, putting the defense in a precarious situation should he the 4th down attempt fail. Carona has got to get better, but the problem is that there may not be a better alternative.
Hat-Tip to the great South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack for the idea.