This weekly feature considers five reasons why Texas Tech will win and five reasons Texas Tech will lose to each opponent. Related: Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Lose :: Texas Longhorns Edition.
Reason #1 :: Spread Offense: Thus far, Taylor Potts has clearly exhibited what a spread offense means in that he has passed the ball around to 11 different receivers with at least 3 receptions. Yep, the running game is certainly struggling, but that doesn't seem to be something that concerns his head coach Mike Leach. The key for Leach is to have about 150 yards production from the running back position, and the way that Potts worked the underneath receivers last week I think Potts is certainly capable of continuing the trend where every position is a threat. And this is obviously the biggest difference between the Crabtree era where one player dominated the receptions where this year the defense cannot afford to focus on just one receiver. You have three players that have over 100 yards receiving, Lyle Leong (172), Detron Lewis (169) and Tramain Swindall (123), and three other receivers aren't too far behind, Alexander Torres (91), Edward Britton (75) and Austin Zouzalik (69).
Reason #2 :: Strength Up the Middle: We all know about the Texas Tech defense's issues at defensive end and the young secondary, but I shouldn't dismiss the fact the defense up the middle is the strength of the Texas Tech's defense. I don't know that DT Colby Whitlock can have 8 tackles, 2 TFL and a safety, but part of the problem last year was that the defense had trouble getting to McCoy in the second half. This year, there is depth and thus far, Ruffin McNeill is giving time to backup DT's like Victor Hunter and Chris Perry. Even Myles Wade has seen some action late (do not expect Wade to get any time on Saturday), but the Texas Tech defense has a legitimate second unit that can cause problems for the UT offensive line. And the linebacking corp deserves quite a bit of credit as well as Marlon Williams has turned into a versatile player who has managed to be an effective run-stopper, make plays behind the line of scrimmage and is much better against the pass than this time a year ago. Brian Duncan is as solid a middle linebacker in the conference and Bront Bird, despite having limitations in the passing game has grown to be as solid open field tackler and is excellent against the run.
Reason #3 :: Potts is Fearless: A little bit of a reach of a reason, but I think that this is something that Leach teaches his quarterbacks. I cannot know exactly how Taylor Potts is going to react when he throws an interception, cannot complete a tough pass, or doesn't correctly read the defensive coverage. I'd guess that Potts, as well as all Texas Tech quarterbacks are taught that one bad play can affect the outcome of the game as much as just one good play. There's a certain aspect that the quarterback position, must be fearless, and in this case Potts has got to be be somewhat fearless when it comes to completing passes to the sidelines, testing the corners, or completing passes under the middle, testing the linebackers and safeties. Everyone has talked about the fact that Potts is a different quarterback than your typical Texas Tech quarterback in that he can get the ball down the field. Let's see that arm in action and be unafraid to make a mistake.
Reason #4 :: Not So Perfect Texas Offense: Last year the Texas offense was almost near perfect. I cannot remember where I mentioned this, but Colt McCoy averaged an astounding 8.91 yards per attempt in 2008 and in 2009, McCoy is slightly down from last year at 8.6, but it seems improbable that the Longhorns and McCoy could reproduce those 2008 results. Rock M Nation's Bill C. is also noticing that the 2008 offense was too perfect:
Glad to see that my suspicions regarding disproportionate success on Passing Downs is thus far coming to fruition. Texas had a better S&P on Passing Downs than Standard Downs, and that just didn't seem very sustainable. UT has still been better than most in Passing Downs--a 0.730 S&P is nothing terrible, nor was their 0.977 from last week--but it does appear that their offense will suffer at least a bit this season simply because last season was a little too perfect.
I don't think theis counting on that offense to be as spectacular as it was in 2008, but there was certainly a relaince on that offense and perhaps that's been a part of the Longhorns ever so slight struggles in 2009.
Reason #5 :: Nothing to Lose: I always feel that this is another cop-out of a reason, but the truth of the matter is that all of the pressure is on Texas. They are the team that is expected to continue their march to a National Championship game with Florida. They are the #2 team in the nation and they are the team with the all of the pressure to make a statement in this game. A turnover here and a turnover there can change this game quickly. Just ask Daniel Charbonnet how an interception and a forced fumble changed the complexion of the 2008 game. Yes, that game doesn't happen without Crabtree and Harrell, but there were 8 tackles for a loss in 2008, 4 sacks and an interception that made that happen. Those are the small things that fans tend to forget than made that win even possible. Texas Tech needs to play like they've got nothing to lose, play with some swagger and let the chips fall where they may.