There are the Red Raiders who have defeated both Oklahoma and Texas over the past few years, then there are the Red Raiders who drop games to teams they shouldn't. Count last week's 52-30 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies as the latter. The Red Raiders committed all kinds of mistakes that allowed the Aggies — who were smoked by the same Kansas State team that Texas Tech crushed — to take the game and knocked Texas Tech back to a 5-3 record, including a 2-2 mark in conference play.
Still, as always, this is a dangerous team, one capable of putting up
60 on a defense that isn't prepared. The Kansas Jayhawks found that out
the hard way last year. The two offenses traded scores early, but the
game got away from Kansas and continued to get worse. The end result
was a 63-21 lashing that nobody really saw coming.
Typically for Tech, as the Red Raider quarterback goes, so goes the
team. Junior quarterback Taylor Potts (6-foot-5, 218 pounds) sustained
a heavy hit in the Texas game and hasn't really been the same since.
Sure, his numbers look fairly strong — Potts has completed almost 68
percent of his throws for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns to
eight interceptions—but other than a seven touchdown, no interception
effort against Rice, Potts has been a victim of untimely turnovers.
Those mistakes led to Potts getting pulled for third-string sophomore
quarterback Seth Doege (6-2 205) against the Aggies. For his part,
Doege controlled the game well and didn't commit any turnovers. That
may be enough to gain Doege, who hasn't played a lot of football since
his sophomore year of high school (he sustained two consecutive ACL
injuries, one to each knee), the start against the Jayhawks.
Whoever starts will have the luxury of plenty of weapons. Arguably the
most unheralded is running back Baron Batch (5-11 205), who averages
5.4 yards per carry and is a threat through the air. One of the Big
12's top backs, Batch can create headaches for anybody too focused on
the Red Raider air assault.
But the Red Raiders' roll is buttered by their prodigious passing
attack, one that spreads the field and spreads the ball around to any
number of receivers—Texas Tech boasts eight different players with 20
or more catches on the season. The best of the bunch is probably
Y-receiver Detron Lewis (6-0 205), who has 41 catches for 538 yards and
four scores. Z-receiver Alex Torres is tied with Lewis for the team
lead in catches, and has added 481 yards and another four touchdowns,
while H-receiver Tramain Swindall (6-3 180) has 512 yards and five
touchdowns on the year. X-receivers Edward Britton (6-0 167) and Lyle Leong (6-1 165) have combined for another 53 catches, 678 yards and
eight touchdowns. When the Red Raiders go a little bigger, Ryan Hale
(6-1 227) steps in at the BH-receiver spot in kind of a tight end role.
The Red Raider line is tall and big, but has allowed 21 sacks already
this season. The Red Raiders have shuffled their line repeatedly this
season, with Marlon Winn (6-6 312) likely to get the start on the left.
That would probably put Joe King (6-6 319) at the right tackle spot.
Lonnie Edwards (6-5 290) and Brandon Carter (6-7 334) are listed as the
starters at left and right guard, respectively, while Shawn Byrnes (6-4
307) is scheduled to start at center.
The Red Raider defense has seen its ups this season—witness the
performances against Kansas State and Nebraska—and its downs—the
A&M game. The Red Raiders' defensive numbers are mostly average
across the board. Still, this is an aggressive defense that can get to
That charge is lead by defensive ends Brandon Sharpe (6-3 254) and
Daniel Howard (6-3 240). The two have combined for 44 tackles and 14
sacks on the season and have created steady pressure on opposing
quarterbacks. Nose tackle Colby Whitlock (6-2 287) is among the
conference's best at his position. He and defensive tackle Richard Jones (6-1 281) are active and have 58 tackles, including seven for
loss, between them.
Three of the team's top four tacklers have homes in the linebacking
unit. Mike linebacker Brian Duncan (6-1 240) has 57 stops on the year,
while Will linebacker Marlon Williams (6-0 218) has added a playmaker
to the group. Williams has 50 stops, six for loss, two sacks and an
interception on the year. Sam linebacker Bront Bird (6-3 240) has also
been effective this season.
Cornerback Jamar Wall leads the Red Raiders with seven passes broken
up, while his position mate LaRon Moore has four tackles for loss and
an interception. Cody Davis (6-2 200) and Franklin Mitchem (6-2 198)
will get the starts at the safety spots.
The Red Raiders often find themselves going for it on fourth down. But
when they do kick a field goal, Matt Williams (5-8 164) has typically
hit it. Punter Ryan Erxleben (6-0 190) averages 40 yards per punt, with
10 of his 23 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line. Donnie Carona (6-0
218) serves as the kickoff specialist, while Austin Zouzalik (6-1 181)
and Eric Stephens (5-8 182) return kicks. Zouzalik also averages 9.4
yards per punt return.
How the Jayhawks fare in this game will likely depend largely on which
Red Raider team shows up. But whichever team does show, if the Jayhawks
can pull out a valued victory over a South team, it would be worth its
weight in gold.
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