The biggest matchup for the Texas Tech Red Raiders this week may have been
themselves, which explains that after multiple injuries, an arrest after the
win over West Virginia, Texas Tech football has been in lockdown mode all week.
Tommy Tuberville knows this team is too good and this game
is too important to let success get into the heads of the Red Raiders.
“I hope we learn from last year because we pretty much
around the same part of the season did the same thing,” Tuberville said. “ We
did something nobody else thought we could do and we didn't win another
game. We've got to get focused on
every day of what we've got to do to get better.
On the field, TCU brings in a team that has lost over 20
players on the roster since the start of spring practice in 2012. The Frogs are
even more depleted since injuries and suspensions have factored in throughout
the season. TCU, to its credit, hasn’t felt sorry for itself. They have
persevered and are one win away from qualifying for a bowl game. This game is
going to determine a lot of the positioning of where these two teams will play.
Passing game: Seth Doege and company have to attack TCU and
the receivers to make a big plays. Similar to the Texas Tech D, the TCU defense
will try to keep the play in front of them. Iowa State connected for two scores
over 50 yards in addition to a trick play score on a reverse pass from receiver
Josh Lenz. Baylor, in a loss had two long touchdown passes to Terrance Williams. If Darrin Moore, Eric Ward and company want to prove they are better
than most receiving corps in the Big 12 Conference, then one or all of them
will make a big play.
That said, TCU is leading the league in turnovers 14
interceptions and 6 fumble recoveries. I understand over half of their
interceptions came from Garret Gilbert and Nick Florence, but Doege still has
to be careful. Get too greedy and one could still go the other way.
How will the passing game get opened up? Play action. That means Kenny Williams and Eric Stephens have to run effectively. TCU is leading the league
in rush defense, so that means yards may not be at a premium, but Texas Tech
has to stick to the run. Iowa State ran for 153 yards versus the Frogs, but it
wasn’t pretty. Only 4.3 yards per carry which included a 33 yard end around by
Aaron Horne (see the part above about trick plays.) If the secondary plays run
first, eventually one will bite and that has to connect for a big play. Also,
with Moponga playing on a bad ankle (if he plays), I
run right at him. Make him change directions and use it to your advantage.
Passing defense: Another dual threat quarterback takes the
field against the Red Raiders. I challenged the Tech fans all summer to name a
skill position player other than Pachall on TCU’s
roster. No one could. But, TCU has produced some decent playmakers at wideout in Brandon Carter and Josh Boyce
. If Boykin can get them the ball, the defense has to tackle at the
point of attack. This game will be won for Texas Tech, however, with the
defensive line putting pressure on Boykin, and forcing him into some bad throws
and possible INTs. I do think Boykin will be a little more willing to make a
few plays with his feet than Geno Smith was last
week, because he’s not as polished of a passer as Smith.
Run defense: TCU’s running game has been hardest hit by the
injuries and defections. While the Horned Frogs will try to run the football,
it won’t be the way TCU beats Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are #2 in run defense
in the league and only 4 yards per game behind TCU. Their best bet is for
Boykin to try to make a play.
Special Teams: Gary Patterson believes in his defense enough
that I think he’ll kick field goals if given the opportunity, unlke
Dana did last week. He’ll try to keep the game close. Remember in 2006, TCU beat
Tech 12-3. Bustin has to have a good day if this game
Most important defensive matchup for Tech: TTU secondary
versus the TCU receivers. The DBs have to cover and make a play. Make this
freshman QB make mistakes.
Most important offensive matchup for Tech: Doege versus the
TCU secondary. A good game by Doege will prove he can play against a team with
good defensive backs, as we’ll see with K-State and Texas. A bad game and the
Red Raiders will probably have to play from behind. TCU is very good at taking
advantage of the short field.
Biggest mismatch for Tech: TTU DL versus TCU OL. The D-Line
dominated against West Virginia and caused problems all day long for Geno Smith. TCU has a little bit of inexperience up front
and overall the talent to attack the TCU OL relentlessly.