We chronicled some of the dropoff in production for Texas Tech on offense this season. Naturally, we turn now to the defensive side of the football, which AR nicely introduced for us on Tuesday. Let's dig a little deeper and see what else we can learn about this year's Red Raider defense.
In the second game of the season, UTEP tried to beat the Red Raiders with a heavy dose of Jordan Palmer (52 passes against 26 rushes). Tech emerged victorious in El Paso, but had to travel the following week to Fort Worth to take on TCU. Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs took a different approach, rushing the football 44 times. TCU kept the Red Raider offense off the field, amassed 180 yards on the ground, and grinded out a 12-3 victory, Tech's first loss of the season.
Once Tech got in to conference play, the secret was out. Texas A&M hammered the Red Raiders for 47 rushes - good for 250 yards - though Tech managed to win in the last minute of the game. Following the Aggie thriller, Missouri and Colorado each pounded the run - 40 rushes for Missouri, 46 for Colorado. The Buffalos, in particular, were successful, racking up 228 yards of offense en route to the upset win.
In Texas Tech's most recent game - last week versus Iowa State - they jumped to an early lead, forcing the Cyclones to pass from behind. Other than that, teams have clearly decided that the best path to moving the football on Texas Tech is on the ground.
The question is, as Jason Mayer astutely noted, whether Tech's opponents don't think they can pass on Texas Tech or whether they believe that it's best to keep Tech's pass happy offense on the sidelines. Whatever the motivation, it's safe to say that teams have proven that you can run on the Red Raiders if you want to. Teams that have tried to pass on Tech have done so with moderate success; it wouldn't be correct to say the pass defense is good or bad. It's pretty average.
So what should Texas do Saturday? The 'Horns would be well served to run the football at Texas Tech until absolutely forced to do otherwise. In a night game (on TBS, no less), with a wild Tech crowd ready to explode at the first sign of upset, Texas probably isn't going to take too many risks that could get the underdogs, and their fans, into the game. And, really, why not? A&M ran at will on the Raiders. So did Colorado. Looking at Tech's three losses, the victors combined to average 43 carries per game.
I'd guess Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles are going to get a lot of work in the first quarter, with opportunities for Colt McCoy to emerge as Tech is forced to commit eight defenders to slowing down the Longhorn rush game.
Big night Saturday for JC?
So, readers, let's turn it over to you. Play Greg Davis for a day and let us know how you'd take down the Red Raiders. You can visit Tech's defensive statistics at CFB Stats here.