Keys to the Game - OSU Edition

What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.


I get by with a little help from my friends,
I get high with a little help from my friends,
Going to try with a little help from my friends.

                    -- John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Win as a team, lose as a team.  Or as the Beatles put it, "get by with a little help."  OSU may not be the world beaters people thought they might be at the beginning of the year, but the Cowboys are still a solid football team.  This game is very winnable for Texas Tech, but if the Red Raiders are to go in and pull off the upset on the road is going to take everyone chipping in and helping each other out.

This is a game in which Texas Tech will have to be especially patient and wait for opportunities to present themselves.  OSU has the capacity to be explosive...in both the good and bad way.  They can put points on the board in a hurry, but they are also prone to complete self-destruction.  Defensively, the Cowboys are giving up a lot of yards through the air.  This bodes well for Tech offensively.  If we play our cards right, Tech could be a couple of TD's up some time in the 3rd quarter and OSU will have to start playing from behind.  This is where we want them to be.  If OSU is forced to start playing from more than 10 points behind, I think the meltdown will begin.  OSU is without Dez Bryant and Brandon Pettigrew is now in the NFL.  Kendall Hunter is recovering from injury.  I won't go so far as to say the OSU offense has lost it's teeth, but the big play threat is certainly diminished.  But if the game is close or OSU is ahead, they can stick to their running game, and it could be a long night for the Red Raiders.

Offensive Keys

1.  Don't give up on the run.  On paper, OSU is actually pretty good against the run.  The temptation here would be to give up on running the ball after it gets stuffed twice. Especially since OSU is not so hot against the pass.  Some early completions will force OSU to drop an extra man into coverage and open up things up for us on the ground, if Taylor Potts continues to be willing to check down when they do.  We don't have to pick up 8 yards a play, but we have to run the ball enough to keep the Cowboy defense from pinning it's ears back every play.  I see the end around to Jeffers being successful.

2.  Don't force things.  My biggest concern with Potts at the helm is his tendency to try and force plays, rely on his arm and to do too much on his own.  Against Kansas, he seemed to have gotten over this a little.  Just because he has the gun to hit his receiver 60 yards down field with a frozen rope doesn't mean he needs to/has the opportunity to every play.  Work the field, let things open up, and the next thing you know Baron Batch will break one for 20 yards and a TD.

3.  Tackle play.    We're apparently going to roll with Marlon Winn at LT and LaAdrian Waddle at RT.  These two guys have to pull it together and Winn can't take every 3rd play off.  If he needs to take a breather, Olson can fill in very nicely.  Work the rotation Matt.  We have to win the battle of the trenches, and this battle starts on the left flank.

Defensive Keys

1. Force Robinson to beat us with his arm. OSU is a run-first team.  They average 43 rushing attempts per game compared to 26 passing attempts.  Zac Robinson is not a bad running QB, and they have a stable full of running backs.  Tech has shown vulnerability to a team that is willing to put a hand on the ground and drive block.  Our front 7 has to play the run honest and watch for OSU to tray and go left behind Okung and then bounce it outside.  Force OSU to go to the pass, and Robinson will make some mistakes.

2. Look out for the kitchen sink.  Gundy will try and throw a lot of different looks Tech's way to try and confuse the defense.  The idea is that if the defense is confused, they will react more slowly and the offense can take advantage of them trying to figure out what the heck is going on.  Ironically, I think this will be especially true if the game is close or turns into a shoot-out.  Be prepared for anything.

3. Don't overlook Hunter.  Kendall Hunter is a quality running back that can make defenses look silly of they don't account for him.  An injury forced him to sit out most of 6 games, but he saw limited action last week.  He may or may not be 100%, but either way, he is a guy that can be dangerous.  I expect that he will split time with Keith Totson, but we can't look on those as snaps to relax against the run. 

Special Teams

Force OSU to play the long field.  That means deep kicks and good coverage.  Bryant isn't returning for them, so we should be able to pin them deep and let them beat themselves on the long field. 

Eric Stephens is on the verge of breaking one.  With the way Zoo has been blocking for him, this could be the game.

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