Keys to the Game | Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Iowa St. Cyclones

LUBBOCK TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Detron Lewis #17 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders runs the ball against the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 18 2010 in Lubbock Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

KEY 1 | FIND ARNAUD

Iowa St. Week
MONDAY Five Questions
Art of Polls - BlogPoll
TUESDAY What We Think We Know
WEDNESDAY Keys to the Game
THURSDAY Reasons for Concern and Optimism
FRIDAY Prediction Time

I'm most likely not the only guy that still has visions of a running quarterback running all over the Texas Tech for defense, for seemingly first down after first down. And it really didn't even have to be a running quarterback, but just a relatively mobile quarterback (see Case Keenum and Jerrod Johnson). Those things still scare me and Arnaud isn't necessarily a guy that's truly a dual threat. Sure he's competent as a quarterback and he's a pretty good runner, but if there's a lane, he's a good enough quarterback to take that lane and do just enough to keep the Iowa St. offense going. I mentioned it yesterday that Arnaud is a guy that has a paltry 5.4 yards per attempt. The bad part for ISU fans is that Arnaud hasn't done much on the ground, averaging only 26 yards a game running for a 2.89/carry average. Of course, that factors in sacks and he's probably a bit better than that, but I'm guessing that the truth of the matter is that either Arnaud is hanging onto the ball a little too much or he's just not getting much space to run. And the Iowa St. offense has rushed for over 100 yards for three of their four games and in their only Big 12 game, a win, Iowa St. rushed the ball for 171 yards on 40 carries against Kansas St. RB Alexander Robinson led the way with 82 yards on 19 carries, freshman RB Jeff Woody had 6 carries for 43 yards and Arnaud had 13 carries for 50 yards.   Although ISU didn't win this game, I think that this is how they'd like to run the ball each and every game and keep their defense off the field while burning the clock.  I'm guessing that what head coach Paul Rhoads would prefer is to keep the ball as long as possible and much of that will be predicated on the Cyclones trying to keep the ball as much as possible.

More after the jump.

KEY 2 | FIND YOUR RHYTHM

We've talked about this, almost to the point that I'm ready to just leave this key to the game with the title alone. But that's not enough, at least not for me. It seems as if we've tackled this subject from just about every angle: the quarterback play, the struggling offensive line, the different blocking scheme, the lack of a running game, the offense is the same (or different) or something other than being a passable offense for what's expected at Texas Tech. We could continue, but the key that I think I've preached way too much last week and will continue to preach two things: offensive efficiency and (this one is actually somewhat new) find the offensive rhythm. There was nothing about the UT game that made me think that the offense found any semblance of continuity in just about any drive. The lone offensive touchdown was a result of a 25 yard run by Baron Batch and another 15 yard touchdown catch by Lyle Leong, but for almost an entire game, there didn't seem to be any momentum.  This offense needs a confidence booster and it needs consistency.

KEY 3 | STOP THE RUN

I mentioned this above, but Arnaud's less than stellar passing performance thus far this year leads me to think that DC James Willis needs to load up front and stop the run.  This of course means that the corners play on an island for most, if not all of the game and both the safeties step up and play closer to the line.  I'm willing to hedge my bet that Arnaud and the Iowa St. receiving corps isn't going to try to go deep, especially if the defensive line and the improved pass rush of Brian Duncan and Scott Smith are able to pin back and get to Arnaud.  The one thing that I do caution is both Duncan and Smith getting too far up the field and creating running lanes for Arnaud.  It seems to me that perhaps the best way to skin this cat is to make sure that the line contains, the linebackers fill those voids and not necessarily worry too much about putting pressure on Arnaud, but rather make sure that he doesn't shake loose for any big gains or sustaining drives by continually getting just enough for first downs.

I ran short of time last night and was only able to get these three keys to Saturday's game.  Let's hear from you and tell me what I've missed.

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