Point 1. Competent Quarterback Play: Arguably at least one third of the Raiders issues in the 4 game losing slide and even before that are due to panicky, off balance and inaccurate Quarterback play by Techs 2 Freshman QB's. You may recall a similar construct when Tech played Michigan State in the 2010 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. We fielded a pair of Junior QB's, Michigan State had Kirk Cousins yes the same guy who plays in the NFL today.. Who at the time was a true freshman starting for Mark Dantonio. Erratic play in last year's Meineke Car Care Bowl (for half the snaps)by the freshman QB for the Golden Gophers couldn't get any where's near his receivers on the last 2 series of the game. Ultimately both Bowl opposing freshman QB's threw game losing interceptions in the 4th period. To win in Austin, Tech needs good, solid, not flashy and virtually mistake free Quarterback play. It won't require absolutely mistake free play but it will require no unforced turnovers. The one thing Tech can do to hand the Whorns a victory by 5 or 10 points is give up the ball on a short field, that transfer kicker guy A. Ferra(sp) from Penn State can hit FG s from 40 yards in without fail.
Point 2: Special Team play Tech managed in the space of 5 games to allow 11 or 12 catastrophic special teams plays and effectively erased whatever the good it is that the Offense or Defense has been able to claw out.. Blocked extra Points, Blocked punts, muffed returns by our guy, Blocks in the back when our guy gets free for a big return. Allowing the opposing punt returner to flip the field and erase 25 yards on a return. You name it, Tech has managed it. Tech just needs to play conservative coverage and return game schemes and when they kick off or punt stay in your lane. Albeit I have been impressed by the ability of the Tech ST folks to execute Onsides kicks..note Coach Mack Brown has been impressed too so don't expect any let down by those guys on his return unit. Survival and job Security are powerful motivators. Mack can't lose in front of the home folks and stay employed.
Point #3: Defensive down linemen play and a rotation which doesn't exist in Lubbock except in a kids story book. Tech has played 8 or 9 down linemen. With pretty limited success. Dartwan Bush, Kerry Hyder and Denell Wesley are pretty good for 45 or so snaps. Add in Jackson Richards, Branden Jackson and Bennett Ofor and the overall Tech defense is good for another 30 snaps that's about all that's in the tank for the Number 1's and 2's on the D line. After that things start to get real dicey. Coach Wallerstedt keeps talking about 48 good plays for 240 yards with 15 "explosive" plays of 290 yards. Correct Coach, when the offensive linemen are free to chip the undersized Tech Linebackers, the running backs and QB's can rumble for 8 to 20 yards. Or more. Then getting off the field or even keeping them to a Field Goal becomes very problematic. Texas has a few running back down and not playing on Thanksgiving day but they also have 4 or 5 bruisers just like Baylor who can rumble, Texas has 12 legitimate starting O linemen who could start for any Big 12 team. They are likely to line up in a 2 tight end set and skull drag Wallerstedt's fancy and skinny defense.. I hope and that's not a method folks.. hope Tech can run blitz successfully on first and second down and put Case McCoy in 3rd and 6 plus yards..but I am sadly not optimistic. .it's going to take some of those Tech down linemen getting into the back field 20 percent of the time to get anything like parity. The same undersized Linebackers are pretty good against the pass (less B. Petty @ BU) but against a weakish passer like Case they have a slight edge. Remember KSU didn't have to pass. Hardly at all.
Point 4: Tempo, Tempo, Tempo.. If it's not a fast game for the Raiders it will be a Longhorn skull dragging. The only reasonable expectation for a fast paced game which gets our smallish running backs a chance to contribute those little 5 yard plunges in the 4th period is accuracy by the QB to wide outs in the first thru 3rd periods. Tech can't have a 59.9 % or 62.3% completion rate spread over 85 -100 offensive snaps really that's our game.. First down, second down, first down, second down.. reaped ad nauseum. Think I am kidding? Folks it's the only way this team matches up against UT. We have a nicked up O line on the smallish side. We have 2 x freshman QB's who can't get thru their 2nd read without laying J. Amaro out for an ear holing over the middle of the field. Neither QB can get thru a game without laying the ball on the turf at least twice and usually 3 plus times. Or just as bad getting sacked because of the aforementioned inability to see the open man or the O line losing their block. I vote for a more seasoned thrower back there. "wink"
Point 5: Red Zone is end zone, End of discussion. If Tech kicks 3 x Field goals in this venue they lose by 21 points. If they kick Zero and just get inside the 20 the average number of times they have been doing and score it's a different outcome, if so then Tech scores at least 35 points possibly 40 plus. If the Tech defense doesn't get jobbed by the Zebra's. I know that's unfair but if the Raider defenders can manage just 2 takeaways which are converted to 7 points and not punts then look out. All that's left is for the Tech Special teams to deliver 1 big play per half. Just one. A punt fumble forced and recovered, a 30 plus yard return of any flavor and blocked kick inflicted on the Whorns. It will mean a 100 plus yards of UT offense erased and probably 2 scores kept off the board. Look back on those 7 x offensive down linemen fronts and 2 running back sets they crammed down our throats in Austin in 2011, by the beginning of the frigging 4th period our defense couldn't get their hands off their hips. And the Tech DC Russian Coffee had an apoplexy. Mostly because the offense could not stay on the field executing that first down, second down, first down tempo. Because by the time any Tech defender made contact the UT running back was 4 yards past the line of scrimmage. I sat there with my daughter and suffered stinging smart ass comments from the Horn fans who gleefully spoke little cool infantile sentences Like "Ohh wow", "that's nice!", "uh we are so good" , "did you see that?" And this went on for hours.
Point6: A little success will take the orange blooded dolts out of the game. Last week's fast start against Baylor will give them pause. I suggest Tech score on every possession in the First half get several scores ahead and never take their foot off the gas. Easy to say hard to do.
Point 7: The take way turnover conundrum.. Tech has been scary good in stretches but they have laid / lost the ball on the turf or thrown interceptions 28 times this season. 4 fumbles by the running backs, 7 other turnovers for/by the Tech QB. 17 Interceptions thrown/committed by Texas Tech signal callers. That's not the number of ball handling miscues. (It's higher)http://www.texastech.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/text-m-footbl-mtt.html Texas Tech Red Raiders Texas Tech Fumbles and interceptions That's balls lost by the offense. Drives killed. There is a pattern here. Seth mentioned it at the start of the season but teams who start freshman generally don't fare anything better than mediocre at the end state. Only because Tech has the Quarterback whisperer they have done all right. But they lack a front 3 rotation actually winning battles, the lack of a the dominating player or combination of players see Bush & Hyder vice Hyder alone stats on how the those guys grade out without each other on the field. A 64.789 percent completion rate and problematic punt cover teams has combined to deliver hammer blows to this year's Raider teams chances for success. (my number not Baker Mayfield or Davis Webb's completion rate.) It's been said several times the 2013 team cuts it too fine. Just look at the hammer blows inflicted .. OU a reverse in the 4th period covers 90 yards laterally and scores. Blake Bell fumbles inside the 20 but Tech doesn't cover it. Versus OSU 3 x miscues - most egregious .. a blocked punt inside the 30 yard line, OSU recovery. Then not one but 2 ea 4th and goals turned into scores. Kansas State - No one can tackle their QB and they essentially operate in our end for half a game then our Frosh QB lobs a pick 6. Disaster. Baylor returns a punt for a TD and the freshman puts the ball on the ground 3 times. Creating so much desperation that when they start to drive the Bears off the ball our normally sure handed Running back Kenny Williams over tries and gets the ball stripped and the tired defense with its lite weight Linebackers goes back on the field. Final score a disaster.
Point8: Take aways inflicted Tech needs 3 drive stoppers on the Whorns at least one take away per Quarter thru the first 3 periods. These need to be scoop and scores or turned into 7 points in order to rock UT O Coord. Major Applewhite back on his heels. Any combination of removing catastrophically a ball from the UT offense forces the offensive coordinator to go into 3 or 4 wide out set, which from our perspective that's exactly what Tech is built to deny. The worst thing that can happen is to let Texas get up 2 scores put that 2 tight end set back in and just grind our defenders to dust. The Tech defense has to take some chances here and outnumber the Longhorns on couple of 2nd and shorts situations not only get a tackle for loss but flat ass knock the ball loose and then fall on it.
Point 9: Panic, don't panic, keep calm but make them panic. Case McCoy is an adequate thrower he's not great but he can loft a 40 yarderer to an open Mike Davis. I suggest Tech take defensive Pass Interference calls all day because that's exactly how Baylor clawed their way back against us, they held every go route, every streak route and just chalked the 10 yards in penalties up to "effort". The ultimate scenario would be Dartwan Bush or B. Jackson or J. Richards getting to chase Case McCoy around and make him loft under pressure. The only way to get that scenario is win on first down, inflict a no gain on the preferred off tackle dive Texas likes on their drive openers. We are going to see wide receiver reverses, Texas has too much speed not to give that whirl. Stay at home. Don't get too excited weak side LB (Bandit). Conversely Tech has shown an uncanny knack for trickeration on offense, I think faking that and dumping over the middle to the Jacemeister (Amaro) is a winner. I am not a coach but Kliff will try to get them to over pursue at least two or three times.
Point 10: Mack is desperate to retrieve his reputation under that mush mouth, lovable, cogderly exterior is the heart of a Type A. He can't stand the thought of going to Golf Tourneys for the next 20 years and listen to Deloss Dodd's cronies and butt suckers invited by Joe Jamaal and hear "just wish you hadn't let Tech beat us back in 2013 .." trust me Div1 Coaches have egos as high as Mount McKinley and wider than the Mississippi. The Tech coaches need to get him off his center point, rattled, interfering arm waving and slobbering. He is best when he isn't coaching. When he talks it confuses things. Make him snarl at his coordinators. Tech must impose a stern chase and get those fingers rushing thru his mop top. Exploit desperation. That or at least make him believe his reputation is trashed down in Austin.
Do these 10 things or don't let them be done to you and Tech wins the contest and builds momentum for the Bowl game and 2014.