This weekly feature considers five reasons why Texas Tech will win and five reasons Texas Tech will lose to each opponent. Related: Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Lose :: Texas A&M Aggies Edition.
Reason #1 :: No Reason to Choose: Sports-talk would not be sports-talk without a quarterback controversy and we've got plenty of fans choosing between QB Taylor Potts and QB Steven Sheffield. The thing that interests me more than anything else is that right now, there's really no reason to choose, and I tend to think that's a good thing. This is one of those times where I tend to just enjoy the ride, whoever is calling the shots. I know that I don't have any control over who plays or what happens during the game and it can be entertaining to watch. Texas Tech hasn't had the opportunity to argue over a backup quarterback in years. We're hungry. Fortunately, things like this tend to work themselves out. I think Texas Tech is also fortunate to have 2 outstanding signal callers, and despite the thought that Potts may not read defenses as quickly as Sheffield, he's still pretty damned good. In fact, I was looking at Cody Hodges numbers from 2005 and he completed 66.5% of his passes and had 31 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Roughly speaking, Potts would have similar numbers to Hodges if you were to play out his numbers for the rest of the year, 31.2 TD's and 14 INT's. Quite simply, I appreciate the lively debate, but to say that Texas Tech is in going to have issues because Potts is on the field seems to be a stretch.
Reason #2 :: A Defense that Stops the Run: The Aggies aren't necessarily known to be a running team, but in games where the Aggies have won, they've run an average of 47 attempts for 244.00 yards a game. In TAMU's 3 losses, it's 33 attempts for 69.67 yards. You might say that stopping the run might be of the utmost importance on Saturday night and I'm guessing that the DC McNeill understands the importance in stopping the Aggie rushing game. At this time last year, the Red Raiders were also 24th in the nation, having played 4 patsies in a row and then a tough Nebraska team. This year, it's been quite a difference mix and I'm thinking that the defense won't be perfect, I think this game is going to be about fundamentals on the defensive side of the ball, which includes stopping the run.
Reason #3 :: Reliance on the Run Game: Do unto others . . . well, you know what I mean. We talked yesterday about how the relatively new left tackle could be problematic for Potts, but I think part of the solution is to have ensure, whether it be from Leach or from Potts checking down, to make sure that the running game is an integral part of the game-plan. On paper, it certainly doesn't look pretty, but the truth of the matter is that RB Baron Batch is averaging, yes averaging, 9.29 yards a carry and 5 TD's. RS freshman Harrison Jeffers is averaging 4.67 yards a carry and 4 touchdowns. I don't know if the slow start to the running game was a product of Leach's play-calling or Potts not checking down, but making it a priority on Saturday is key to keep the heat off of Potts. If TAMU is slightly concerned about the running game, it theoretically should give Potts a bit more time, and the more time he has the better off he is as a quarterback.
Reason #4 :: Pressure on Johnson: Henley? Check. Howard? Check. Sharpe? Check. For the first time last week you saw how having 3 healthy defensive ends could impact a game. Daniel Howard gets the fumble return for the touchdown, Brandon Sharpe is able to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback and Rajon Henley was incredibly solid against the run. The Red Raiders sit at 8th in the nation in sacks and is 1st in the Big 12 in passes defended at 45 total, an average of 6.43 per game. The pressure on TAMU QB Jerrod Johnson needs to come from the ends, but the secondary's ability to pressure Johnson into some bad throws (although Johnson, to his credit, has only thrown 3 INT's all year) which might result into more 3 and outs rather than long sustained drives.
Reason #5 :: Pride as Well: Please allow me to go back to this well, especially after coping out yesterday, but I mentioned that the Aggies, as is any college football team, plays with pride. And that certainly doesn't just apply to the Aggies. Texas Tech was a step-child for so many years and to be honest, I think the tide turned a bit when this program and this team, started to play with a little more pride for themselves and this school. I do not believe that this attitude, which seems to just ooze from these players, and was noticable last year, but is very noticable this year, is very prevalent. This is a confident group, but this group consistently talks about being the underdog and not taking anything for granted. To say that it can take years for a school to take that next step towards national revelance is an understatement, but it can take only one bad season, and it can affect the program for much longer than you might like to admit. Texas Tech cannot afford to nap against any team and I seriously doubt that they will against the Aggies.