We've heard it for 11 months. The 2008 Texas-Texas Tech game was the biggest game in Texas Tech history. I would add "to date."
If the 2008 game was "the biggest" game, a win in this year's match up could be the defining moment - when Tech moves from perennial 3rd place team to a true contender. It's time to stop living in the past and look to the future. Like the Captain has said, Texas Tech can win any game if everyone goes out and does their job. Join me after the jump to take a look at what I believe are the keys to game this weekend.
Unlike many years past, Tech is not short on talent. Don't let any of your UT friends or co-workers tell you differently. We have moved on from the days of converting tight ends that can't catch to defensive ends. Are we neck-and-neck with Texas talent wise at the 3-deep? No. But our coaching staff has done a good job of building a quality starting line-up. If everyone does their job, Tech will be in this game and will have a chance to win. If they play as they did in week one, it will be a long night.
It's the oldest adage of football, but it is especially true for Tech this week: this game will be won or lost on the line...the O-line. We have experimented with different guys at different positions in the first two games. We are rolling with the line-up that we used against Rice that has Carter back at his RG position from last year, leaving 2 new starters (Olson and Edwards) protecting Potts's blind side against a DL that is pretty stacked. We need this unit to pull it together and play to their potential. If we can't manage more than 3 yds/carry in the run, I don't blame Potts for not checking to the run when he is averaging more than 8 yds/att. 3 yds/carry = 3 and out. We have to control the point of attack on the line and get some push to open up lanes for our talented RB corps to pick up more yards and keep the Texas D honest. Oh, and if we need 1 yard for a touchdown, first down, or just to make us feel good, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, how about some push?
We also need to control the ball offensively. Yep I said it. The Leach offense needs to play a little ball control. If you think our starters on defense are green, take a look at the depth chart. Beanie has done a great job with strength and conditioning, but I don't want our D going into the 4th quarter having already logged 30 minutes. This is not the game to test your endurance on defense. It will be tested enough as it is. I'm not saying we have to win the battle of the clock to win the game (though it would certainly help), but we need to keep TOP within about 2 minutes.
No dropped or tipped passes. Leach may not have thought he was going to catch it, but I don't want to give him another chance, either.
Contain, contain, contain. In the highlight real of last year's game, you will see Colby Whitlock making several plays behind the line. We need to give him that opportunity again. Our DEs need to focus on containing McCoy within the pocket, not getting the sack. Let Whitlock generate pressure inside, filling up the middle passing lanes. We can win this battle in the middle.
Take some chances early with a blitz. If we can get some pressure early in the game it will force Texas to adjust their game plan the rest of the night to account for it. We need them to be afraid it might be coming, keeping a RB in the backfield and a blocking TE instead of Buckner to prevent them from lining up 5 wide and bombing away all night.
Don't play too soft. McCoy will eat us up with short passes. He didn't have the record completion rate last year by not being able to read the defense and find an open man.
A big play pinning Texas on their own 1 like we had to open the game last year or Stephens taking one to the house would be awesome, but honestly, all I really want is for nothing bad to happen. Don't let Shipley break open a long return. Don't muff any punts. Momentum swings on special teams play. Let's not give them any extra.
There you have it. My keys to the game. Everyone do your jobs and Texas Tech will be in a position to win. WRECK 'EM TECH!