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Preview: Texas A&M Aggies v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Texas A&M Aggies (5-1, 2-0) v. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-1, 1-1)
October 13, 2007 @ 2:30 p.m.
ABC (Regional)
Texas Tech Affiliates
Fox Sports
Lubbock, Texas

Iowa State's Jason Scales (6) is pushed back by the Texas Tech's Rajon Henley (91). (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Joe Don Buckner)

The Numbers:

Texas Tech Statistic TAMU
77.17 Rushing Offense 248.17
513.00 Passing Offense 167.50
590.17 Total Offense 415.67
52.50 Scoring Offense 35.67
151.67 Rushing Defense 140.00
186.17 Pass Defense 237.50
113.72 Passing Efficiency Defense 126.17
337.83 Total Defense 377.50
22.83 Scoring Defense 22.17

Photo by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Photo Staff

Note to Danny: Watch the knee sir, please, watch the knee.


Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Passing Graham Harrell: 228 Comp., 310 Att., 2,726 Yds., 28 TD, 3 Int.
Rushing Shannon Woods: 53 Att., 318 Yds., 7 TD
Receiving Michael Crabtree: 70 Rec., 1,074 Yds., 17 TD
Danny Amendola: 54 Rec., 685 Yds., 4 TD
Eric Morris: 25 Rec., 308 Yds., 3 TD
Grant Walker: 16 Rec., 203 Yds., 2 TD
Statistical Leaders TAMU
Tackles Mark Dodge: 42
Misi Tupe: 32
Alton Dixon: 31
Sacks 5 players tied with 1:
Alton Dixon, Misi Tupe, Mark Dodge
Chris Harrington, and Red Bryant
Interceptions Marquis Carpenter: 3
Jordan Peterson: 1
Misi Tupe: 1
Devin Gregg: 1
  • Texas Tech Passing Offense v. TAMU Passing Defense: It's no secret that one-half of winning this game begins here, with Harrell at the helm, leading this offense. Last week against ISU, the offense stalled a bit, but it still scored 35 points. Granted, the defense helped with 7 of those points with a fumble recovery deep in the ISU zone, but the offense was effective enough.

    This week, there are two keys. First, the offensive line needs to tighten up a little bit. ISU threw the line something a little different and it took them some time to adjust. I'd imagine, that the Ags are going to make every attempt to rattle Harrell early. The line needs to make sure that doesn't happen. Statistically speaking, the Aggies haven't been especially proficient at rushing the quarterback, and are tied for 105th in the nation in sacks. Keep Harrell upright Saturday and I really like Texas Tech's chances.

    The second key would be for Harrell not to turn the ball over. It's not that I want Harrell being overly cautious, but I want him to take care of the ball, like he has been all year (3 interceptions in 310 attempts). Last week's interception looked to be miscommunication on someone's part. Let's not let that happen again.

    I'm not at all worried about the receivers. They've done an outstanding job all year of hauling in Harrell's passes, which is why Harrell is completing 73.3% of his attempts. The Aggies are giving up 237.50 yards a game, which is 75th in the nation. Not to mention, the teams that the Aggies have played aren't exactly known for their passing offensive prowess, yet the defense has still given up a number of yards [Miami (79th), Fresno St. (82nd) and Baylor (14th)].

    We now expect nothing the spectacular plays from Crabtree and I do not see any reason why we shouldn't on Saturday, but now I'm beginning to expect those same types of plays from Grant Walker, Eric Morris, Detron Lewis, and Danny Amendola. Those are good expectations to have.

    Advantage: Texas Tech

  • Texas Tech Rushing Offense v. TAMU Rushing Defense: How much rushing is enough rushing? You would think that it would be beneficial for the Texas Tech offense to take the ball away by perhaps running the ball a little more to take additional time off the clock, but the bottom line for me is that you are what you are. Rushing be damned, unless it's the 18 to 20 carries a game to keep opposing defenses off balance. Still not quite as effective as last year, but it's not as if the offense is stalling.

    Statistically, TAMU is still giving up more yards that Texas Tech needs to rush the ball to win. Only Montana and Baylor couldn't manage to rush for over 100 yards against the Ags, but La. Monroe did eek out 215 yards rushing and Oklahoma State rushed for 200 even. They're giving up an average of 3.72 yards a carry and the Red Raiders are only managing 3.59, thus Texas Tech should be better than what they've been thus far.

    Personnel wise, I think Coach Leach has finally figured out that Kobey Lewis is an interesting player, but Woods needs to be on the field when rushing the ball. The past 2 games, that I've been able to watch, Coach Leach has utilized Ed Britton essentially sprinting parallel to the line of scrimmage, almost touching the offensive line for a quick hand-off at full speed. It reminds me of the zone-read that Vince Young made famous and I'd be willing to bet that the decision to get Britton the ball is all up to Harrell. It's an interesting concept to get a player going that fast with the ability to essentially break up the line at any point, all the while the defensive backs normally play off the line of scrimmage.

    I'm pretty sure that I sound like a broken record, but Texas Tech does just enough.

    Advantage: Texas Tech


Statistical Leaders TAMU
Passing Stephen McGee: 80 Comp., 145 Att., 906 Yds., 4 TD, 3 Int.
Rushing Stephen McGee: 71 Att., 482 Yds., 4 TD
Jorvorskie Lane: 89 Att., 401 Yds., 10 TD
Mike Goodson: 75 Att., 402 Yds., 2 TD
Receiving Kerry Franks: 17 Rec., 325 Yds., 1 TD
Mike Goodson: 12 Rec., 154 Yds., 2 TD
Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Tackles Paul Williams: 38
Marlon Williams: 34
Jamar Wall: 26
Sacks Brandon Williams: 3.0
Rajon Henley: 2.0
Daniel Howard: 2.0
Interceptions Jamar Wall: 2
Darcel McBath: 1
Daniel Charbonnet: 1
Anthony Hines: 1
  • TAMU Passing Offense v. Texas Tech Passing Defense: McGee reminds me of one of those players who is physically talented enough and appears to have the physical tools to be a better than average quarterback, especially with the ability to escape and run. Unfortunately, McGee has struggled for most of the year to do what quarterbacks are supposed to do - throw touchdowns. I realize that McGee is essentially thought of as a running quarterback, but the reality is that he still drops back 25 to 30 times a game and has had little success. McGee is only completing 55.2% of his passes and has only thrown 4 touchdowns. Granted, he has only thrown 3 picks, but he's only averaging 6.2 yards per attempt and 36.25 attempts per touchdown. That's just bad.

    The Ags most productive receiver is Kerry Franks (brother to Texas Tech freshman, Jacoby Franks) who is averaging 19.12 yards a reception, but only catches 2.8 a game. Perhaps the most talented receive is under-utilized tight-end Martellus Bennett. Through 6 games, Bennett has 20 receptions for 241 yards and 1 touchdown. You would think that Bennett would be a favorite target for McGee, especially as a safety valve, but he's not.

    Out of the backfield, Michael Goodson has 12 receptions for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. The kid is electric, and I hope that the Ags fail to utilize his talent at least 1 more game.

    The Red Raiders have actually been pretty good against the pass this year, good for 50th in the nation in allowing 186.17 yards a game. Perhaps the most encouraging statistic is that Texas Tech is only allowing opponents to complete 50.28% of their passes. Granted, UTEP, OSU, NW St. and ISU weren't exactly high powered passing offenses, but still held opposing defenses to less than 250 yards a game and only 6.2 yards per attempt.

    It's not so much the big play or the long touchdown pass, it's the crossing pattern where Texas Tech defenders whiffed on OSU receivers or allowed Dillard to get open because the defender didn't turn around, which by the way, it appears that defenders are making more of an effort to look for the ball, but their timing still isn't quite there yet.

    The key here for the Red Raiders is to just keep the receivers in front of them, tackle upon reception, and mitigate any yards after the catch by making sure-handed tackles.

    Advantage: Texas Tech

  • TAMU Rushing Offense v. Texas Tech Rushing Defense: This is where it could get ugly. In Texas Tech's first conference game to OSU, a team with talented running backs with a quarterback who could certainly run the ball rushed for 366 yards, averaging 6.0 yards a carry. That was the straw. Since then, the Red Raiders have played NW State and given up 15 yards rushing and 100 yards to Iowa State who is averaging 135 yards a game. We're not exactly talking about great two offenses, but at the very least McNeill has made some changes and which in turn have produced results.

    I wish I could point to some trend that definitively showed that the rush defense has improved significantly, however, I think for most Texas Tech fans, it what we see on the field more so than the results. Don't get me wrong, the results have been quite good with McNeill at the helm, but it's going to take some time. Luckily, Texas Tech had 2 weeks to figure some things out and understand what Coach McNeill needs to see on the field. Some players have lost their starting jobs and it seems as if jobs are up for grabs every week.

    In reviewing the Ags rushing numbers, Lane receives the most carries, but it's just at 14.83 attempts a game. I would have thought that Lane carried the ball 20 times a game, but that's not the case at all. In fact, he's only had 2 games where he's carried the ball more than 20 times, Fresno State and Baylor. Perhaps there is something to the fact that Lane's weight contributes the coaches to limit his touches. All the while, perhaps TAMU's most talented back, Goodson, receives only 12.50. Goodson had 23 carries early in the season against Fresno State and it resulted in only 69 yards. Since then, Goodson has had rushing attempts of only 11, 9, 11, and 11 per game. McGee has been the most efficient with a 6.41 yards per attempt average and 11.83 carries a game. McGee has been mostly hit or miss all season rushing the ball. He's had 3 games of over 100 yards rushing and an a yards per attempt over 6.0, but in the other 3 games, he's only had 18 (La. Monroe - understandable), 39 (Miami, FL) and 43 (Oklahoma State).

    Texas Tech could make quite a statement on Saturday, but the Aggies still have a decided edge.

    Advantage: TAMU

SPECIAL TEAMS: It's pretty much a push at the punter position, with LaCour and Brantley both averaging over 40 yards a punt. TAMU's Syzmanski may have a slight edge over Trlica, not because I don't think that Trlica is the most clutch kicker I've seen at Texas Tech, but because Szymanski will probably have more of an opportunity.

Also, if L.A. Reed doesn't play, all special teams suffer.

Without a doubt, Danny Amendola and Eric Morris have been nothing short of electric in the return game. Amedola averages 15.75 yards each punt return (which is 14th in the nation) and Morris is averaging 10.64 yards. The Ags' Jordan Peterson is averaging 7.38.

As a team, the Red Raiders have improved from last year's 17.22 yards per kickoff return to 19.04, with Ed Britton being by far the most explosive at 29.00 yards per return. TAMU's Kerry Franks averages 26.60 and Pierre Brown returns 20.38 per return.

Advantage: Push

PREDICTION: TAMU 28, Texas Tech 42.