INSIDE SLANTThe Texas Tech Red Raiders are hoping to get their mojo back. And real soon.
Tech goes into this weekend's game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against Baylor with a 2-2 record and riding a two-game losing streak. And the Raiders didn't exactly look all that great in their two wins against SMU and New Mexico.
So as crazy as this sounds, the Baylor game has suddenly become a must-win contest for Tech. Raider fans will be incensed if Tech can't beat a Baylor squad that usually has been the whipping dogs of the Big 12 South.
"We are going into this game thinking our backs are up against the wall and we have to change something," Tech quarterback Taylor Potts said. "We are going into the game thinking we need to start winning some games.
"There's a time when you start thinking you have to get it done, and I think that's where we are. It's time for us to show everybody who we really are."
The Raiders are coming off an embarrassing 52-38 loss to Iowa State that lowered their Big 12 record to 0-2, even though a bye week afforded Tech two weeks to prepare for the Cyclones. It's embarrassing because Iowa State went into that game last in the Big 12 in scoring with 20.2 points per game but managed to score 28 points against Tech -- in the critical fourth quarter.
"We were all disappointed,"Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I know all the fans, alumni and everyone was disappointed we didn't win the game.
"No one is more disappointed than the players and the coaches because a lot of time goes into every game. Especially a game with an open date and you feel like you have a great opportunity to go in and play well."
Led by quarterback Robert Griffin, Baylor is 4-1 and off to its best start since opening the 2005 campaign with a 4-1 record. The Bears are jumping on opponents and are not letting go, and will likely give the Raiders a stern test.
"They have an excellent team and they are more consistent than I have seen them in a long time," Tuberville said. "They are well-coached and they are very explosive.
"When you have a quarterback that can run around and make plays and also throw for 400 yards, then your defense better get ready to play."
NOTES, QUOTES--Supporters of former Tech coach Mike Leach are still out there, and they're getting very creative. A billboard recently went up in Fort Worth, Texas, with a picture of former President George W. Bush and the caption: "Miss Me Yet?' On the Team Leach Facebook page is a picture of Leach and the caption: "Miss Me Yet?''
--The Raiders may be struggling this year, but there's one thing they can always count on. A win over Baylor. Tech has won its last 14 meetings with the Bears. It's the longest winning streak for the Raiders against any current opponent. Baylor last beat Tech 9-7 in Waco on Sept. 30, 1995.
--This is the 69th time Tech has played Baylor. The Raiders have played the Bears more than they've played any other opponent. Tech and Baylor first met in Waco in 1929 with the Bears winning 34-0.
SERIES HISTORY: Texas Tech leads Baylor, 35-32-1 (last meeting, 2009, 20-13 Texas Tech).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Following a pitiful offensive showing two games ago in a 24-14 loss to Texas when they gained only 144 total yards, the Red Raiders were able to power for 508 yards this past weekend against Iowa State. But this week Tech will be matched against a quick and physical Baylor defense that has gained immeasurable confidence with each game. In their four victories, the Bears have permitted only two touchdowns, five field goals and just 7.3 points per contest.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: After off horrible showing against a so-so Iowa State squad, the Raiders can't get any worst on defense. Or, can they? Tech needs to force some three-and-outs and stop making stupid penalties that keep opposing team's drives alive. Baylor's offense will be a load for Tech to try and handle. During last week's 55-7 win over Kansas, Baylor set a school record with 678 total yards. And if quarterback Robert Griffin and the rest of the starters hadn't been sidelined after the third quarter, the Bears probably would have rolled up over 800 total yards. Are the Raiders ready for that type of football?
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've been through four games now and we've seen what works and what doesn't work. We need to put stuff together." -- Tech quarterback Taylor Potts, on trying to adhere to the team's new offensive and defensive schemes.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNELTHIS WEEK'S GAME: Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Cotton Bowl, Dallas), Oct. 9 -- Nothing has come easy for the Red Raiders this year as they're still trying to come to terms with the new offense and defense first-year coach Tommy Tuberville has implemented. Based on the way both teams have performed, Baylor has the talent and the confidence it needs to emerge victorious. However, coming off back-to-back Big 12 losses to Texas and Iowa State, this may be just the game the Raiders were looking for. The last time Tech lost consecutive Big 12 games was in 2007, and they snapped that skid with a 38-7 triumph over Baylor.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Executing properly for four quarters is a necessity for the Raiders, because they've only played in spurts so far this year. Tech also has to manufacture ways to corral Baylor's Robert Griffin, who is quietly becoming one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the nation.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:WR Lyle Leong -- He is making a strong bid to become one of the nation's top receivers. His nine touchdown receptions have him second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, who has 10. With 13.5 points per game, Leong is tied with Houston's Bryce Beall for second in the nation in scoring per game.
DE/LB Brian Duncan - Duncan is second in the country in sacks with six. He was strictly a middle linebacker his first three seasons at Tech when it employed a 4-3 defense, but under the new 3-4 defense he's playing the hybrid defensive end/linebacker positions.
RB Eric Stephens - Just a sophomore, Stephens will likely own the school's career kickoff return yardage record by this weekend. Stephens is four yards shy of the record (1,309 yards) set by All-American Donny Anderson, who played for Tech from 1963-'65 and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
ROSTER REPORT:--OLT Mickey Okafor was back in the starting lineup against Iowa State after missing the first two games with a concussion he incurred during preseason workouts.
--OLT Chris Olson started the first three games in place of Mickey Okafor. But in that third game, against Texas, Olson shared the duties with Okafor.
--Talk about durability. Offensive guards Deveric Gallington and Lonnie Edwards, offensive tackles Mickey Okafor and LaAdrian Waddle, and center Justin Keown amazingly played all 87 snaps last week against Iowa State.