This weekly feature considers five reasons why Texas Tech will win and five reasons Texas Tech will lose to each opponent. Check back tomorrow for "Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Win ::Edition".
Reason #1 :: A Patient Offense Can Beat a Bend But Don't Break Defense: This reason alone probably worries me the most. Thus far, Ruffin McNeill's defense has been very good with pressure from typically just four players, plenty of stunting, solid tackling and the safeties playing not to get beat deep. That's the thing about Houston, is that the short passing game is their thing and a veteran quarterback will be patient until the defense makes a mistake. And that's not to say that the Cougars do not have players that can't go deep, because they can, but Mike Leach mentioned that Houston QB Case Keenum runs the offense very well, and when he says that, I think that means that Keenum gets the ball all over the field and he takes advantage of what the defense gives him. Add Keenum's arm, decent wheels to scramble out of the pocket, and a good running game and there's the recipe for disaster.
Reason #2 :: Better Than Advertised Pass Defense: So I mentioned yesterday that the pass defense isn't anything to write home about because Houston hasn't played a passing offense with only 2 games on the ledger. I still shouldn't take anything from the Cougars, who were able to hold Dez Bryant to only 85 yards on 5 catches. They went for some yardage, but Bryant wasn't getting the ball on a consistent basis. The other interesting thing is that of the 18 completions during the Oklahoma St. game 6 of them went to running backs, which means that Zac Robinson refused to look down the field, or Houston did a good job of making sure that OSU didn't let Bryant beat them by himself, and they weren't going to get beat deep.
Reason #3 :: Skillful Skill Positions: Sophomore RB Bryce Beall was outstanding as a freshman, rushing for 1,272 yards and 13 TD's) and he's been pretty good this year with 136 yards and 2 TD's. But the talent out of the Houston backfield doesn't stop there as Charles Sims, another freshman, is a multi-purpose threat, who has 36 yards on 12 carries, but had 128 yards on 6 catches against Northwestern St. and 5 catches for 46 yards against OSU. And then Houston has Tyron Carrier, who just dominated OSU with 7 catches for 111 yards. There's a ton of talent at the skill positions for Houston and just like Texas Tech, Houston finds a way to get these guys the ball in open space.
Reason #4 :: Depleted Defense: The Red Raiders did yeoman's work against Texas, but I'm concerned about the ability of the defense to keep this sort of pace. It seemed as if this unit was tired at the end of the game, despite the offense going on long, sustained drives to give the defense time to rest. Still, the defense was a few men short, and I think in the long run, the team will be better for it as players step up and show they are capable of filling positions. However, if DE Rajon Henley (not at practice), DE Ryan Haliburton (was back at practice), DE Brandon Sharpe (was back at practice) and SS Franklin Mitchem (not at practice) can't play for a second week, you could see a tired defense by the end of the game, especially if Houston stays on the pace they did against OSU, which was 82 freaking plays. Depth could be a huge concern going forward.
Reason #5 :: Converting Third Downs: It's only been 3 games, but thus far at home, the Red Raiders are converting 52% of their third downs, while n the road (yes, it's just 1 game) only converted 23% of their 3rd downs. It's a really small sample size, but Taylor Potts and his compliment of receivers have to do a better job of converting on the road. Getting it done only 3 of 13 times is worrisome, and there's the thought that Texas Tech really has 4 downs to get it done, but putting your offense in a tough position, potentially putting your defense in another tough position depending on field position, is something I'd like to avoid on the road.