Tuesday Grid Update, 9/9

Arkansas knows what to expect in Lubbock, a stacked box from the Texas Tech defense. Sam Pittman said he'd be "disappointed" if the Hogs see anything else.

Auburn stacked the box, so if there is a team that won't stack the box against Arkansas it might be the upset of the year.

"We know what's coming," offensive tackle Brey Cook said. "They will load it on us. We expect it and look forward to it."

That seemed to be the consensus Tuesday night after practice when the offensive coaches and players were in the interview room. All expect the Tech front -- listed as a 3-4 -- to turn to extra defensive linemen in a front to combat the heavy look of the Arkansas offensive line.

"That means our receivers should have one-on-one coverage," quarterback Brandon Allen said. "I have confidence in our receivers. If they load the box, that singles up the coverage. We want to throw it, but there are times we are still going to run the ball.

"I'm not sure they have seen an offensive line as physical as our front. But it's not just our offensive line. Our entire team is physical. Our wide receivers have shown they can be physical down the field."

Allen feels more comfortable in the checks and reads in the offense. Coordinator Jim Chaney said he turned Allen loose on the run checks more since last season. Tech has shown a lot of blitzes and movement.

"I feel that way, that I can (check plays)," Allen said. "I've got confidence and experience. I think that's what going through a year in the system does."

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman expects Texas Tech to bring pressures and movement.

"They jump around up front," he said. "They will jump you and two-gap you up front. I think we have a good plan for that. If they decide to stack the box -- and I'd be disappointed if they didn't -- then we have something for that.

"We respect their defensive front. They have added some junior college players.They've got some faster, quicker guys and then they have some run stoppers. They are good up front."

Running backs coach Joel Thomas said, “They’re solid players. They’re Division I, Big-12 linebackers. I think one of their more experienced guys has 22 starts. I remember V.J. Fehoko from when I was at Washington, he was a national recruit. These aren’t just some guys off the street, they’re a solid group.”

Pittman liked what he saw from newcomers Frank Ragnow (center), Sebastian Tretola (guard) and Cameron Jefferson (tackle, guard, tight end) against Nicholls. None will crack the starting lineup as it stands now, but all will play against Tech.

"I thought they did well," Pittman said. "We used Cam in four positions, including fullback. But we shifted him out of fullback every time. It was to get him to tight end. But he liked that he played some fullback. Every linemen dreams and asks to play some fullback."

Cook heard that.

"Count me in," he said. "I'd play some fullback. I played some tight end in some packages a long time ago. I thought Cam was pretty good at tight end. His right tackle liked having him lined up beside me. I think he's a pretty good tight end. Did you hear me over there, Cam? Maybe you can tell them about your tackle."

Speaking of tackles, Pittman said the plan now is to redshirt Brian Wallace as long as the Hogs stay healthy at that position.

"I think we've got five right now," Pittman said. "Brey Cook, Dan Skipper, Cam Jefferson and Denver Kirkland can all play there. So we'll travel Wallace and try to redshirt him. If you can't get a guy 150 to 200 snaps on a season, you are better off redshirting a player. As far as centers, I think we'll play two in this game. Mitch Smothers will start, but Frank showed what he can do when he gets his hands on you. He's a very physical player."

All in the interview room now it's a critical game.

"It's a big game for us, without a doubt," Pittman said. "Certainly, they have our respect for their program. It's a good opponent and on the road."

Cook said, "It's very exciting. You like going into stadiums like these. We've been in some good stadiums and this is a very hostile environment. It's a huge game and can be a milestone game for us moving forward."

Allen said, "It's one of the better teams on our schedule so we feel a need to be sharp. We will need to bring our 'A' game all the way around -- offensive, defense and special teams. The good thing for us, we've already been on the road."

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