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Preview: Texas Tech v. Texas

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The Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-3, 3-3) v. The Texas Longhorns (8-2, 4-2)
November 10, 2007 @ 2:30 p.m.
Television:
ABC (Regional)
Radio:
Texas Tech Affiliates
Gamecast:
CSTV
ESPN
Fox Sports
Weather:
Austin, Texas
Once again, we call upon our beloved Masked Rider, Kevin Burns. Fear the Mustache you stinking Longhorns. Fear the Mustache.
Big 12 Rank Texas Tech Statistic Texas Big 12 Rank
12 67.40 Rushing Offense 198.70 4
1 481.22 Passing Offense 264.90 7
1 549.50 Total Offense 463.60 5
3 42.40 Scoring Offense 34.30 7
10 166.30 Rushing Defense 101.10 3
1 178.30 Pass Defense 247.80 8
2 162.54 Passing Efficiency Defense 134.85 7
3 344.60 Total Defense 348.90 5
5 22.30 Scoring Defense 21.40 3

I know what my heart says on this game. This is a game where we Texas Tech fans earnestly believe that the defense can stop the run, but my head says otherwise. Nothing this season has proven that this group can consistently stop the run and now, the Red Raiders face the best runner in the Big 12. This game bothers me because there's an opportunity here. Texas is not a dominant team, in fact I think that Texas is really pretty vulnerable, but here's what I don't know (which is really quite a bit): Can the defense stop the run? Can Harrell rise to the occassion? Can Coach Leach find innovate? And can the defense rattle McCoy? If the defense can hold Charles, Harrell can lead this team like I think he's capable, Captain Leach can adjust to whatever the defense is throwing his way, and the defense is able to get to McCoy, early and often, then I'll take the Red Raiders all day long. If one of those things doesn't happen, then I'm worried and the offense had better be outstanding.

WHEN TEXAS TECH HAS THE BALL:

We'll need to see a lot of Harrell celebrating on Saturday (Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, right, celebrates a first half touchdown in a college football game against Baylor Saturday, Nov. 3, 2008, against Baylor in Waco, Texas. Texas Tech beat Baylor 38-7. (AP Photo, Waco Tribune Herald,Jerry Larson)).
Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Passing Graham Harrell: 385 Comp., 524 Att., 4,412 Yds., 38 TD, 11 Int.
Rushing Kobey Lewis: 40 Att., 172., 2 TD
Aaron Crawford: 30 Att., 139., 2 TD
Receiving Michael Crabtree: 104 Rec., 1,512 Yds., 18 TD
Danny Amendola: 86 Rec., 1,014 Yds., 5 TD
Eric Morris: 50 Rec., 578 Yds., 6 TD
Ed Britton: 33 Rec., 438 Yds., 3 TD
Statistical Leaders Texas
Tackles Marcus Griffin: 52
Ryan Palmer: 51
Rashad Bobino: 49
Sacks Frank Okam: 4.5
Lamarr Houston: 4.0
Brian Orakpo: 2.5
Interceptions Marcus Griffin: 3
Brandon Foster: 2
Deon Beasley: 2

Five Things:

  1. Crawford Must Have a Complete Game: Putting Crawford right in the middle of a hornet's nest may not be the best thing for a running back only starting in his second game of his very young career. I believe in Crawford and I think that he's talented enough to run against this defense, but where I need Crawford to shine is in the pass blocking department and being able to capitalize on the very good chance that the typical screen passes and shovel passes are going to be readily available on Saturday. Catch the ball, sir and block like there's no tomorrow.
  2. Game Plan For The Expected: Who wants to guess what Texas is going to do on Saturday? If anyone says anything other than the exact same thing that we saw against Missour and Colorado then you are misguided. Texas will attempt to only rush only 4 defenders and send the occasional blitzer, while the linebackers and defensive backs will attempt to muddle up the middle of the field. I think Coach Leach knows that this is what he can expect and now it's his move. Make Texas adjust to what we do on offense and it will be a thing of beauty. I say this starts with getting Crawford the ball 20 to 25 times a game.
  3. Protect Harrell: This athletic offensive line has done an outstanding job of protecting Harrell all season. On Saturday this group may face the most talented (although not the most productive) group of defensive ends and linemen they've seen all season. Rylan Reed and Louis Vasquez will have to continue their dominating performance thus far and Marlon Winn will need to show (and I have no doubt that he will) that he's on his way to being an elite offensive tackle.
  4. Get Crabs: The pun was easy, but I need for Mr. Crabtree to be dominant on Saturday, or rather, I want Michael to be dominant on Saturday. It's been quite some time since Crabtree has had a dominant game (just in case you were wondering it was against the Aggies where he logged 170 yards, but no touchdown). Let's see what happens when Harrell feeds Crabtree the ball more than maybe he should, whether it be over the middle where Crabtree can attempt to break some tackles or down the sideline where he can use his size to his advantage. Either way, let's let the world see how great Michael Crabtree is capable.
  5. Dominate Special Teams: Let's not give away any extra yards, whether it be on punt returns, kickoff returns or otherwise. We have some players emerging as real special team hawks, including Daniel Charbonnet and L.A. Reed who will hopefully be at full strength this week. It would also be great for Alex Trlica to get back on track, but more importantly, how special would it be for Danny Amendola to be the deciding factor on a punt return on Saturday, conjuring up images of Red Raider favorite, Wes Welker.

WHEN TEXAS HAS THE BALL:

Anthony Hines and the defense will need to be up in the grills of all Texas offensive players (Texas Tech's Anthony Hines, bottom, breaks up a pass intended for Baylor's David Gettis in the a first half of a college football game Saturday, Nov. 3, 2008, in Waco, Texas, Texas Tech beat Baylor 38-7. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Sarah Borth)).
Statistical Leaders Texas
Passing Colt McCoy: 217 Comp., 331 Att., 2,632 Yds., 16 TD, 16 Int.
Rushing Jamaal Charles: 191 Att., 1,192 Yds., 14 TD
Colt McCoy: 78 Att., 333 Yds., 1 TD
Vondrell McGee: 43 Att., 217 Yds., 6 TD
Receiving Nate Jones: 57 Rec., 628 Yds., 4 TD
Quan Cosby: 50 Rec., 519 Yds., 3 TD
Jermichael Finley: 36 Rec., 599 Yds., 2 TD
Jordan Shipley: 16 Rec., 294 Yds., 3 TD
Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Tackles Paul Williams: 60
Joe Garcia: 61
Darcel McBath: 58
Sacks Brandon Williams: 4.5
Rajon Henley: 2.5
Colby Whitlock: 2.0
Daniel Howard: 2.0
Interceptions Jamar Wall: 4
Darcel McBath: 2
Daniel Charbonnet: 1
Anthony Hines: 1

Five things:

  1. Dear _______ (insert deity), Let Texas Tech Stop The Run: I'm not not a fan of invoking any sort of deity here at DTN, but I'm making an exception this week. Earlier this week, Brian Duncan was absolutely right, stopping Jamaal Charles will be an absolute team effort and if there was ever a time for Coach Ruffin to complete load up and stop the run, it might be this week. I'm a little worried about the lack of size and experience with Whitlock and Henley on the defensive line and I wouldn't mind seeing more of Brian Jones and Richard Jones this week. The defensive ends have got to contain McCoy in the pocket, and if Brandon Williams is going to get speed rush, then he had be real sure that he's going to sack McCoy, otherwise, play it safe and load up against the run.
  2. Linebackers Had Better Be Great: I've had higher expectations for this linebacking crew as it got younger and I think that they've played decently, however, each one of these men, down the line, need to have the games of their lives. Not only will they be integral in stopping the run, but they will also play a huge part in covering the talented tight end Jermichael Finley, who has the potential to have a huge game. More importantly, this group will need to do their jobs, from Marlon Williams, Brian Duncan, Paul Williams, Julius Howard, Chad Hill, Kellen Tillman and Victor Hunter.
  3. Create Turnovers: I seem to recall that Charles had fumbling problems (the team has 12 for the year) that seems to have corrected itself, but wouldn't it be great to see Charles put one or two on the ground at some point on Saturday? Not to mention, McCoy has thrown 16 interceptions to 16 touchdowns, so he's susceptible to making poor decisions and putting his team in a bad position. I know that we mentioned turnovers last week, but getting a turnover, on the road can be a sure-fire way to win (see Kansas State at Texas earlier in the year).
  4. Don't Give Up The Long Stuff: With Sweed's injury, there is no reason why Texas Tech shouldn't give up any deep passes or huge plays from the passing game. That's not to say that Texas still doesn't have viable threats down the field, but I think it's important that this week, the secondary keeps the Texas receivers in front of them.
  5. Strong Safeties: The play of McBath, Garcia, Charbonnet and Hines may play as vital a role as any position this week. This group will have the tenuous task of playing that fine line supporting the run defense, but making sure not to give up any big plays. It's gone largely unnoticed, but I think that McBath has improved each and every game and it's just a matter of time before he gets an interception or two. Anthony Hines and Daniel Charbonnet's play has increased as the year has progressed and whether or not they are playing in nickel or dime packages, this group needs to have a big day.

PREDICTION: Damn, I hate picking this game. As I said above, I know what I should pick, but I'm not sure that I can. I'm hoping that Coach Leach has a trick shoved up his sleeve, not to mention, we have the mustache, you stinking Longhorns. Texas 28, Texas Tech 31.