Odds and Ends
Max Stallings: Last night I went to go see Max Stallings in Greenville (yep, Greenville) and it was a good time (i.e., open air venue, Lone Star on tap, and good music). If you've never heard of Stallings, it's quality Texas country, although I think that term may not mean the same thing to everyone. Give him a listen:
Texas Tech Football
There Are No Defensive Ends: That's an exaggeration, there's one, Daniel Howard. LAJ's Don Williams reported last night that Brandon Sharpe did not travel with the team due to an "internal issue". Sharpe is officially out for the game. Just in case anyone wants to check, the dress roster (pdf) can be found on the official site under each game link. Williams does a good job of running down the options, including although if you read DTN carefully, you'll know that you need to watch where DT Richard Jones, LB Sam Fehoko and LB Bront Bird line up tonight.
Texas Tech Wants More: LAJ's Adam Zuvanich writes that the Red Raiders want more than what 2008 offered and knows that winning on the road against the top-tier teams is a big part of being a part of the elite:
That’s largely because the Red Raiders haven’t won at Texas or Oklahoma in more than a decade, and as a result, they haven’t beaten either team in back-to-back years since 1997 and ‘98. Leach, in his 10th season at Tech, has yet to beat UT and OU in the same year, and he didn’t have a winning record in Big 12 Conference road games until last fall.
Until Leach and the Red Raiders cross those items off their checklist, and prove they can beat the big boys on an annual basis, the rest of the world won’t be convinced that they can.
A win today would go a long way in that regard, and it certainly would vault Tech back into the top 25. And with a remaining schedule that includes five more ranked opponents – three of those games are on the road – anything is possible from there.
Dr. Saturday Knows it was the Defense in 2008: Dr. Saturday's Matt Hinton looks at the 2009 game, but acknowledges the difference in 2008 was the defense:
The difference in last year's win, without question, was the Raider defense, the only D to hold the 'Horns below 400 yards all season and a contributor of nine essential points on an early safety and a third quarter touchdown. By the time UT finally got on the board with a field goal in the second quarter -- which itself came on a short field following the Raiders' only turnover -- the Longhorn offense had been hit for a safety, stopped for three consecutive three-and-outs (four if you count the field goal "drive"), been outgained by more than 250 yards and trailed by three scores. Those first half heroics, the shining defensive moment of Leach's tenure, put the offense in a position to win even when Texas kicked into gear in the second half.
The Hurdle is Winning in Austin: LAJ's Don Williams also writes that Mike Leach's biggest hurdle thus far has been winning in Austin:
Something he’s never done is beat the University of Texas in Austin. It’s not getting any easier. With the latest expansion, capacity of Royal-Memorial Stadium is up to 100,119, meaning as far as the eye can see people wearing burnt orange will be rooting for No. 2 Texas to keep Leach oh-for-the decade in Austin.
"Maybe it’ll be the loudest place now," Leach said this week. "I’ve felt since I’ve been here that the loudest place is A&M."
"I’ve never really liked Texas, actually," the Texas Tech senior weakside linebacker said. "If they offered me [a scholarship] I probably still wouldn’t have went there.
"I just never really have liked them as a team. I really actually wanted to go somewhere where I could actually play against them."
Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill likes what Williams did during the offseason:
"I gave him some assignments over the off-season to work on — change of directions, foot quickness, trust in his eyes and read — and he’s done those things," McNeill said. "He’s pulling the trigger, as Coach [Mike] Leach says. But the biggest thing he’s doing is he’s trusting the technique, and he’s really not hesitating on the field."
Muschamp Game Plan: The Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton writes that UT defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has learned some lessons from last year, but this year, Texas Tech can expect to see more of the same:
"That's always our game plan, to get to the quarterback," said Texas defensive end Sergio Kindle. "Those guys are great blockers and they're massive human beings, so we're just going to have to see how that goes.
"That was the game plan last year, too. They had a good game blocking. Maybe we can take from what we saw and what we learned from last year and implement it to this year's package and see how we can modify it to be even better this year."
Texas Longhorn Links: What joy! Texas Tech is losing players by the hour, meanwhile, the NCAA has cleared UT's most experienced cornerback in Deon Beasley . . . DMN's Chuck Carlton writes that the UT secondary has learned lessons from 2008 . . . and LAJ's Adam Zuvanich also writes that the UT secondary has matured . . .