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Position Matchups :: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns

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Fancy table and tremendous analysis after the jump.


QB/WR: The biggest problem with QB Taylor Potts is that he's still prone to make mistakes, which is natural. Rice had a couple of interception opportunities but could not capitalize. I have no doubt that Potts will have those same mental errors, he's human and to expect a perfect game is not fair. The best thing about Potts is that he's not afraid to throw the ball to any receiver on any given play. If there's one thing that should worry Longhorns, it's that Potts can and does complete the ball and doesn't necessarily have a favorite. Despite losing IR Detron Lewis, Potts didn't miss a beat with Tramain Swindall, Austin Zouzalik, and Lyle Leong picking up the slack.

QB/WR vs. DB

DB: I think you'll be looking at a starting defensive backfield of Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown at cornerbacks and Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas at safety. The Longhorns haven't had a ton of interceptions to date, but they have done a nice job of breaking up 13 passes for the year (PBU), including 3 by Thomas. The safeties are young, but very active, and you can expect to see quite a bit of Curtis Brown in the nickel package. As a unit, they are giving up less than 200 yards passing and like Texas Tech, it is difficult to judge the first two weeks of performance because of the quality of the opponent.
RB: The actual running backs, not whether or not the running backs are getting the ball, are actually very talented. I cannot recall a time that Texas Tech had two explosive running backs. Harrison Jeffers, the redshirt freshman, and true freshman, Eric Stephens, have forced themselves on the field despite returning running back Baron Batch running with furious anger. Batch is back, and I think he'll be even better this week against Texas. On talent alone, this group is as talented as I've seen and have the ability to break huge plays. The problem is that Leach/Potts isn't checking down to the running game nearly enough.

RB vs. LB

LB: The Texas linebackers are active and thus far, Roddrick Muckelroy is second on the team in tackles (10) while Dustin Earnest (8) and Keena Robinson (7) are in the top 10. All three of these linebackers are in the 230 range and I think when faced with a spread offense, you'll see more of Curtis Brown than Dustin Earnest. Again, thus far, the Longhorns have had quite a bit of success, depsite the lackluster opponents (Texas Tech fans have no room to talk) and it will be interesting to see the mix of players that UT will utilize against the Red Raiders.
OL: A better performance, but not perfect. The line gave up no sacks and did a much better job protecting Potts with some players making some changes including Chris Olson at LT, Lonnie Edwards at LG, Shawn Byrnes at C, Brandon Carter at RT and Marlon Winn at RT. Olson and Edwards are hard workers, but I don't know that they're strong enough or experienced enough to handle UT's improving defensive line. Still need to get the running game situated and trying to do this in Austin is a tough place to start.

OL vs. DL

DL: The Longhorns haven't had the expected production from DE Sergio Kindle, but they have had quite a bit of production from DT Lamarr Houston and DE Sam Acho. In fact Acho had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 forced fumble and 1 sack last week. Houston was equally disrruptive with 6 tackles 2 TFL, 1 pass break-up and 1 sack. Collectively, this unit is peforming on a high level, and they should at this point. The opponent have both been teams that Texas should dominate. I give the edge to UT here based on the fact the Texas Tech unit still hasn't been able to run.
DL: As dominant as the UT defensive lien was against Wyoming, so were the Red Raiders against Rice. There were 6 different players earning sacks last week, including Brandon Sharpe, Marlon Williams, Daniel Howard, Colby Whitlock, David Neill and Chris Perry. This is what Ruffin McNeill has wanted since he's been at Texas Tech, a 2-deep defensive line that can bring some heat on their own. With Rajon Henley injured last week, look for Ryan Haliburton to get the backup time. If Henley is healthy from the get-go, I do like Texas Tech's no-name defensive line doing what they do. I won't say that the Red Raiders are superior athletes or more highly recruited players, but this is a hard-working bunch that I think will (must) have some success on Saturday.

DL vs. OL

OL: You might say that LG Charlie Tanner struggled a bit last week against Wyoming (here and here). Again, not being able to watch any UT games thus far, I get the distinct impression that Ulatoski isn't perfect either. So it appears that the offensive line is struggling to the tune of managing 191 on the ground and only 1 sack against Wyoming. It might be a bit of an over-exaggeration, to say that the demise of the UT offensive line is a bit premature, but it's true. They're still quite good at what they do, and although not perfect, they're not all that bad.
LB: Marlon Williams has literally been all over the field, with 6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack and 1 interception. A one man wrecking crew on Saturday night. Surprisingly, Brian Duncan has been somewhat quiet this year and strongside linebacker Bront Bird is terrific against the run, but absolutely awful in pass coverage. Bird will play, and depending on what the coaching staff does with Bird, who plays hard every game, but just should not be asked to cover a slot receiver, especially with the arm of McCoy. This is the position matchup I'm most up in the air about and most of the others seem like relatively easy decision. Perhaps the game comes down to whether or not the Texas Tech linebackers can stop the Texas runners?

LB vs. RB

RB: Who is the best running back thus far for the Longhorns? Is it Vondrell McGee who has 26 carries and 131 yards? How about Tre' Newton who has 90 yards on only 12 carries? For sure it's D.J. Monroe with 14 carries and 79 yards? A lot like Texas Tech, the Longhorns have a lot of talent in their running back stable, but to say that one guy has or has not stepped up isn't necessarily a problem at Texas Tech and it's probably not a problem at Texas. I think the days of a dominant running back are gone for a while at UT and there's nothing wrong with that so long as one guy can find his rhythm during the game and finding that "right" player can be easier said than done.
DB: Another lights-out performance from this group led by the one returning starter from last year, CB Jamar Wall. It's evident that this group feeds off of each other and after a week of not having one pass break-up, the Red Raiders logged 11 against Rice. The defensive backs were clearly more aggressive and it was nice to see. Again, guys pushing the envelope a bit in the defensive backfield isn't such a bad thing. Cody Davis and Franklin Mitchem each had 5 tackles while LaRon Moore had the hit of the night where he absolutley de-cleated a Rice defender. The backups of Brett Dewhurst, Will Ford and D.J. Johson can play. Dewhurst was on the slot receiver quite a bit in the second half as was Ford.

DB vs. QB/WR

QB/WR: You can hate them all you want, but the fact of the matter is that the Texas passing game is one of the best in the country. WR Jordan Shipley is dangerous, but aside from Shipley, the Red Raiders will have to contend with Malcolm Williams (we all remember him), James Kirkendoll, Dan Buckner, and John Chiles. All are around 6-feet plus, 180 to 220 pounds and can get behind the defense. Yep, Colt McCoy didn't have a great game, but the fact that he had a bad half and still was able to lead his team to a 31 point win on the road isn't bad (despite the opponent being really crappy).