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Keys to the Game: Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M

What is your Name?

NM99, rabid fan of the Red Raiders

What is your quest?

To defeat Texas A&M

What is the ground speed velocity of an Aggie running back?

What do you mean? Christine Michael or Cyrus Gray?

This is a question that should strike fear into the hearts of the Red Raider faithful.  The question that should strike fear into the heart of every Aggie is, "how is this team going to respond in the 2nd half against a second half team?"  Especially since this is A&M's first true road game of the season (in Jerry World against Arkansas is hardly a road game for A&M), and it will be a hostile environment.  The National Weather Service is now saying that game time should be dry, which is a bigger advantage for Tech than A&M.

Texas A&M is racking up the rushing yards like they are going out of style with 2 very capable running backs, who are churning out 5.7 ypc.  Given Texas Tech's struggles stopping the run, if I were an Aggie fan, I would be hoping Ryan Tannehill doesn't through a single pass tomorrow night.  But thank God I'm not an Aggie.

On the other side of the ball, the Aggie secondary is struggling.  Their pass defense is predicated on the pass rush being effective.  When it is not, their secondary is getting torched.  The 3-4 defense requires a certain type of athlete to be successful, Von Millers don't grow on trees, and the Aggies have not really found an adequate replacement that allows them to only rush 4 consistently.  Based on this, I expect Mike Sherman to bring 5-6 guys until the Tech offense either proves they can pick up the blitz or Doege is able to get the ball off quickly enough that the rush is ineffective.

The Tech defense is a work in progress.  The defense played 2.5 quarters of pretty good football last week.  I hope this is a sign that things are starting to click and the game is starting to slow down for them.  We get some key depth back this week on the defensive line, though I expect Scotty to be a little rusty after a year off.  The 4-2-5 is not that complicated, but more than the base 4-3, it relies on a solid front 4 and the safeties not making mistakes.  They will have to do a better job with their run reads to quickly fill gaps tomorrow.

As I stated in last week's keys to the game, I continue to expect Doege to struggle some getting the ball out.  We saw it at times against Nevada, we saw it against KU, and we'll see it again against the Aggies.  Doege has to really get his body into the throw to get good velocity, and this is going to be harder when the pocket starts to collapse.  I hope we see some designed roll-outs to give the receivers a little extra time to work the secondary, and I hope to see Amaro going across the middle and on quick slants where his size is a bigger advantage instead of on out routes.  But these are just my hopes.  On to the keys.

Key #1: Get to 3rd down...

On defense.  The Aggies have been good at converting 3rd downs, but in their wins, they haven't had to.  We don't have to stop every third down attempt, but we need the defense to force the A&M offense to actually play 3rd down.  The Aggies are going to pick up some yards on the ground, have no doubt.  Getting to 3rd down keeping them below their 5.7 ypc rush average and forcing some incompletions. 

Key #2: Make them go the distance

Too many times last week, KU had a short field to work with.  We can't afford to have that happen again.  We need more than 1 opportunity  per series to make a stop, and when we get one, we don't need to be playing out of our own endzone.  Keep A&M on their half of the field. 

Key #3: Play all 4 quarters

Maybe this should have been #1.  A&M has been fast out of the blocks against some pretty good competition the last couple of weeks.  If we spot them 3 touchdowns, as demoralizing as it would be to see them melt down in the 2nd half again (and as much as I would enjoy it), this game is almost a must win for A&M.  If we give up a big lead early, they will not give it up again.  I hope that a night game will give our guys plenty of time to shake off the cobwebs and come out pumped and ready to play.  If we come out rolling, it's going to be a long bus ride back to College Station.

I don't want to talk of you any more, you empty headed animal food trough wipers. Soapsuds farts in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of sheep dung. Now get thee to the SEC Aggy, before I taunt you a second time.

Wreck 'em!