Ball Control will be key on Saturday

The best defense is a good offense. doesn't sound quite right, does it? Well, neither does a team averaging 52 points per game. The Wildcats will try to keep their offense on the field and Texas Tech's off when Saturday's game arrives.

Coach Bill Snyder and players had this to say about the high octane Texas Tech offense.

We know that's an offense over there that can put up a lot of points," Parrish Fisher said. "If you leave the defense on the field, that's going to be tough for them to try to contain that offense. We know that we've got to come out there and play."

Such is the mission at hand for the Wildcats. Realizing that a shoot-out against the top offensive team in the nation might be counterproductive, the Wildcats will try to establish the run game - a facet of the offense that has struggled in recent weeks.

"It's going to be essential that we manage the ball even better than we have," Thomas Clayton said, when asked what the offense can do to compete with Texas Tech's on Saturday. "I expect us to try to run the ball, and keep the ball in our hands a lot more than their offense has the ball in their hands."

Snyder said a key hold-up in the run game thus far has been penalties. "We had nine penalties on offense last week, and six of those were drive stoppers," Snyder said. Penalties aren't the only thing plaguing the rushing game, though.

Snyder said the offense is also struggling with missed assignments all around. Whatever the cause is, it needs correcting. The Wildcats rushed for just 35 net yards against Kansas, with 25 of those coming from quarterback Allan Evridge. Clayton, who led the nation in rushing earlier in the season, earned just 13 net yards, running at a 0.8 yards per carry clip.

Snyder said improving the rushing attack is not beyond his current players. "I don't think it's a matter right now of saying, 'Player A has got to become bigger, and stronger, and faster and knock that other guy around a little bit better,'" Snyder said.

"I think we're physical enough up front. I think we move well enough up front. I think we block well enough up front. I think we've got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot."

Clayton said the key to the running game will be executing the little things. "If we can start executing our basics, the running game will be just as smooth as it was at the beginning of the season. Execution is where it counts."

Fisher agreed that execution is the key to the rushing attack. "I feel, as an offense, we just haven't been executing on the run," Fisher said. "You can't really point any fingers. I think it's just as a whole. We just haven't been executing. We've got to practice, we've got to get better at that and execute when game time comes."

Another option to maintain ball control would be to run short pass patterns and move the ball through the air. Such a game-plan seemed to work at times against Kansas. "(The short passing game) is something we try to take advantage of every week," Jordy Nelson said. "If the corners are playing off and giving us the five-yard routes, we just want to take them and hopefully make a person or two miss and turn it in to a 15- or 20-yard gain."

Whatever the Wildcats do, it seems they've got to put together some long drives to give the defense a rest on Saturday. If they can manage to re-establish their once-vaunted rushing attack, the Cats will be that much closer to taking the steps needed to leave Lubbock with a victory.

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