Reason #1: Dixon And Williams Will Harass McCoy
Okay, I really shouldn't just include McKinner Dixon and Brandon Williams as this is truly going to be a collective effort, but there's no question that both Dixon and Williams are incredibly integral to beating the Longhorns. I don't think it's any secret that the overall depth at defensive end and defensive tackle is as good as it's been at Texas Tech, at least as far as I can remember. Again, I'm not talking about all 4 and 5 star recruits, but there's quality and quantity. In year's past there was a decent drop-off in talent between those guys on the first team and the second unit. Now, I'm not so sure that there's a huge difference. In the top 4 you have B. Williams and Jake Ratliff at DE and Rajon Henley and Colby Whitlock at DT. That's not bad. The only suspect of the group is Ratliff, but he's a decent soldier. Of the second group, there's Dixon and Daniel Howard at DE with Brandon Sesay and Richard Jones at DT. Again, we're not talking about superstars on the second unit but they are more than servicable. With quality depth, with a Texas team that is capable of hanging onto the ball for long sustained drives having guys who are fresh and able to get pressure on McCoy is vital.
Reason #2: It Is No Longer Just Mr. Crabtree's Show
I know I've probably said this for the past two weeks, but it bears repeating, especially after we continue to see different receivers other than Mr. Crabtree make an impact on each game. Last week it was Edward Britton who just ran past the KU defenders for long gains. Britton has been a guy who's largely been forgotten on offense, at least by me. The week before that against the Aggies it was Tramain Swindall (7 catches 101 yards) and Detron Lewis (9 catches 92 yards) who exploited the soft Aggie defense. Against Nebraska it was Crabtree who had 5 catches for 89 yards and 2 TD's. The key of course is that perhaps last year teams were able to key on Crabtree because he was the only true playmaker on offense. It makes the offense much one dimensional when all you have to do is stop one receiver who can break your back. But this year . . . you've got a mix of receivers who are more than capable of beating you with catches over the middle or down the sideline. Teams can't sit on Crabtree because Lewis, Swindall, Britton and Morris can all make plays. Of course the running backs haven't even been mentioned, but of the receivers, Leach made a decision sometime over the summer that he was not going to be completely reliant on just one receiver and thus far, it's paid off nicely.
Reason #3: McBath And Wall Are Ready For The Challenge
I've doubted Jamar Wall since his struggles earlier in the season and I think I may be done doubting him. Although it was tough to tell because of camera angles last week, I think that Jamar Wall is living up to his preseason expectations. It's taken some time, but I think he's turned the corner and he's done an absolutely outstanding job at shutting down opposing receivers. Granted, the Aggie receivers weren't the absolute best, but Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe have had outstanding seasons thus far, were limited to 55 and 70 yards for the day. And Darcel McBath displayed the athleticism that we've seen glimpses of but haven't seen consistently. Last week, after two awful mistakes that resulted in the 2 KU touchdowns, he stepped up and made some huge plays. And they weren't lucky interceptions, they were the type of interceptions where he stepped in front offensive player and made the play.
Reason #4: Harrell Loves His Offensive Line
Harrell loves his offensive line and so do I. The combination of Rylan Reed, Brandon Carter, Stephen Hamby, Louis Vasquez and Marlon Winn have allowed 3 sacks for the entire year and have allowed only 15 (which includes those sacks) tackles for a loss the entire year. As much as we gripe about the offensive line not getting a push on the goal line, and that's true to an extent, this unit is incredibly effective. I think it should also be pointed out that one of the reasons why the run offense struggles to score on running plays along the goal line is because the defending linebackers are filling those large gaps left by the offensive line. In situations where there's more than 10 yards to have to defend the linebackers don't have an easy decision, but when you've got 1 yard, it makes it much easier to commit early to the run. In any event, although the Texas defensive line is the best Texas Tech has seen, I don't think that Muschamp will throw anything out there they haven't already seen before. I'm probably royally jinxing the whole thing, but this unit has been together too long not to be able to make plays and make adjustments throughout the game.
Reason #5: This Team Is Completely Unaffected
I've been thinking about this for quite a while, but just never put keyboard to computer screen. Is it just me, or does this team seem completely unaffected by everthing that should affect a team. And perhaps this is the mark of a good team, but it just seems to me that the Red Raiders just don't get down. If Harrell throws an interception the offense doesn't seem to pout or Harrell hasn't gone into his typical funk. He just goes out there and does it right the next series. If Leach fails at a 4th down call the defense seemingly could care less, they just go out and do whatever it is they have to do. And as much as the defense doesn't want the opposing offense to score, if they do, there's no panic. Leach has put the offense and defense in precarious situations quite often this year and they've responded. Bottom line, this team is as cool as the other side of the pillow and despite the fact that Texas is the best team in the nation, I'm not real sure Texas Tech cares.
Check back tomorrow for "5 Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Lose: Texas Edition".