Double-T Nation News:
I've got an interesting discussion about Saturday's game with Beergut of I Am The 12th Man scheduled to publish at noon, so make sure and come back to check it out.
Texas Tech Football:
Up first, LAJ's Don Williams looks at Texas Tech's new kicker Cory Fowler and the entire kicking situation. Special teams coach Clay McGuire says that Fowler should be ready:
"Cory’s done well," McGuire said. "He had a great two-a-days, and he’s been ready for his opportunity ever since we went with Donnie. He’s getting his chance, and right now he’s making the most of it."
Also of note is that Donnie Carona has received some extra coaching this week, as former Dallas Cowboy kicker Lin Elliott and Rocky Willingham, an independent kicking consultant. Here's Willingham on Carona:
"I think Donnie’s got great potential as far as (when) he gets a little older," Willingham said Thursday. "This year, I know he’s struggled some, and we worked some of those kinks out. I know in practices he’s doing very well. Transferring that into games has been a different thing.
"I attribute that to - just like I see in a lot of places - he’s young. He’s a freshman. He played at a private (high) school. Not making excuses, but he’s never played in front of 50,000 to 80,000 people, and it’s a little bit different - the speed of the game, the size of the people coming at you. There are some things that go on in a kid’s head."
This is the best news that I've heard about the kicking game in quite a while. I'm not sure if McGuire is a kicking specialist and it's nice to see the coaching staff, perhaps, realize their deficiencies and get Carona some extra coaching. I'll encourage you to go read the entire article, but apparently, Carona worked on getting the ball up and that he's kicked better this week.
Lots of interesting things in Don Williams Red Raiders Football Notebook and we'll handle them bullet-point style:
- Ruffin McNeill still isn't sure about the status of Rajon Henley playing on Saturday, and he's traveling with the team, but they're not saying if he can go. McNeill is considering giving Chris Perry some time, and acknowledges that he's got to keep these guys fresh for the entire game:
"Keeping them fresh,’’ McNeill said. "It’s paid off for us in the fourth quarter. Even at Kansas State in the second half, you could tell when Ra’Jon’s not out there. This (last) game, the whole entire game you could tell.’’
- L.A. Reed is back at kickoff coverage and as the gunner in punt coverage.
SOMETHING ABOUT BLITZES - Well, here is your answer, let's see if it happens. Ruffin McNeill said that he's going to use some blitzes later in the second half of the year:
"My whole deal, I try to do whatever it takes to win the game,’’ McNeill said. "I want to pressure more (with blitzes), but I haven’t had to.’’
McNeill said he doesn’t make a habit of second guessing himself, but he does make notes after games about what he might have done differently.
In hindsight, last week against Nebraska, McNeill said he would have used more odd fronts, such as the three-man front in which the Raiders use Daniel Howard rushing the passer from off the line of scrimmage.
That's interesting, and yes, I think I would have liked to have seen the same thing.
With eight starters back on defense, Tech had many reasons to believe this season would be its best ever in stopping the opposition. But after six games, Tech hasn't made much headway from a year ago in slowing down opponents.
No. 7 Tech (6-0) is allowing an average of 2.3 points and 47.2 rushing yards less through six games this season compared with the first six of 2007. But Tech has allowed 20.7 yards more through six games because its pass defense is giving up 67.8 yards more per game.
Interestingly, McNeill says it's the linebackers, and I would tend to agree, sans Brian Duncan, that need improvement:
McNeill said his linebackers have "a lot of room to improve," and that is certainly the case for the Red Raiders' secondary. Tech's pass defense, which has led the Big 12 the last two years, ranks 98th in the nation (254 yards per game allowed).
DT's Alex Ybarra writes the Aggies have realistic expectations on Saturday and Aggie head coach Mike Sherman said his team's backs are against the wall:
"I told the guys our backs are so far up against the wall that we've got splinters up our butts," said Sherman, whose team plays Texas Tech at 11 a.m. Saturday in College Station. "We need to fight our way out of this thing. That's the only way we can do it."
Meanwhile, per the Chron's Terrance Harris, TAMU defensive coordinator, Joe Kines is charged with trying to stop this Texas Tech offense and looks back at 2006 when he was the defensive coordinator for Alabama, holding Texas Tech to only 10 points in the Cotton Bowl.
"That really has no relevance right now," Kines said of the Crimson Tides’ 13-10 win in the Cotton Bowl. "We were playing then with a group of guys we had together for a long time. They knew the system, they knew each other, they played with confidence. That has nothing to do with what’s going to happen this week."
Big 12 Happenings: Phil Steele is predicting a Texas Tech win . . . DMN's Chuck Carlton is also predicting Texas Tech to win . . .