On Saturday (2:30 P.M., ABC), the Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-5, 2-5) take on the home standing Missouri Tigers (5-5, 3-4) in Big 12 Conference action. Since handing Oklahoma their only loss this season, Texas Tech has been on a three-game losing streak, including a 6-66 blowout against Oklahoma State last week.
Earlier this week, Texas Tech Head Coach Tommy Tuberville talked about his team.
"We've not played very well since the Oklahoma game," said Coach Tuberville. "And, we've not had any consistency on either side of the ball. We've played pretty well on offense most of the year…………………………….. We've got to make something happen."
In addition to beginning the season with new players in key positions, Texas Tech has had to shuffle some guys around, especially on the defensive side of the football.
"We're not a great football team anyway," explained Coach Tuberville. "We knew that going into the season. We've got so many younger players……………………………. We just haven't had any continuity. Each week, we've had to play different players on the defensive side of the ball……………………………. We're a work in progress. We've tried to patch the holes here and there."
Tech ranks #16 nationally, and #6 in the Big 12 in total offense, at 474.6 yards/game. The Red Raiders have averaged 33.7 points/game, which ranks #28 nationally, and #6 in the Big 12.
Texas Tech's offense revolves around junior QB Seth Doege 6'1" 200, who leads Tech's #7 ranked passing offense. His season numbers, including 332.9 passing yards/game, 140.6 passer efficiency rating, and 337.4 total yards/game, rank fourth among Big 12 starting QBs.
Doege's top two targets, sophomore WR Eric Ward 6'0" 201 and junior WR Alex Torres 6'1" 194, also rank among the conference's leaders. Ward averages 6.1 receptions/game, 9.9 yards/reception, and has scored 9 TDs on the season. Torres averages 5.1 receptions/game, 12.1 yards/reception, and has scored 4 TDs on the season.
After losing their outstanding running back, Eric Stephens, for the season, the Red Raiders have turned to senior Aaron Crawford 5'10" 211 (3.8 yards/carry, 28.6 rushing yards/game) and freshman Deandre Washington 5'7" 182 (4.6 yards/carry, 32.5 rushing yards/game). Both backs are quality receivers, as well.
On defense, Tech ranks #113 nationally, and #9 in the Big 12, surrendering 472 total yards/game. This season Tech has given up an average of 6.4 yards/play. The Red Raiders have allowed 37.4 points/game, which ranks #9 in the conference, and #114 nationally.
"We've got a lot of room for improvement," said Coach Tuberville. "There's no doubt about that."
Defensively, the Red Raiders have predominantly played a 4-man front, but they played a 3-man front against Oklahoma State. They've played mostly cover-two, but also some cover-three, on the back end. They're not really a blitzing team. They try to keep everything in front of them, similarly to Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State.
"We've not created very many turnovers," said Coach Tuberville, describing some of the problems that his defense has experienced this year. "We've not played very well in certain situations. Our tackling has been suspect. We just haven't been anything near what I thought we had a chance to be."
Key defensive players for Tech are a trio of safeties, in junior Cody Davis 6'2" 200 (71 total tackles, 2 TFLs, 4 PBUs), junior D.J. Johnson (65 total tackles, 2 INTs, 3 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery), and sophomore Terrance Bullitt 6'3" 206 (43 total tackles, 3 PBUs, 1 QB hurry, and 1 forced fumble), and sophomore LB Daniel Cobb 6'0" 213 (47 total tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 2 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble).
The Red Raiders are really undersized at defensive tackle. Their DBs have good size, but their base defensive personnel includes five DBs, which contributes even more to their being undersized in the middle of their defense. And, Tech has struggled to stop the run. In their last three games, Texas Tech has given up 990 yards rushing and 13 rushing TDs. During their three-game losing streak, Tech has allowed 6.2 yards/rushing attempt, and over 500 total yards/game.
Texas Tech has struggled to limit opposing Big 12 offenses, and as a result, the Red Raiders have been faced with having trying to outscore their conference opponents. Coach Tuberville was inclined to credit conference foes.
"You know, this conference is much better than it was last year," explained Coach Tuberville. "This conference is by far a lot stronger this year than it was last year."
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
482.80 [12th]___ Total Offense___ 474.60 [16th]
234.60 [12th]___Rushing Offense__ 131.90 [84th]
24___________TDs Rushing__________ 16
248.20 [46th]___Passing Offense_ __ 342.70 [7th]
142.60 [26th]__ Passing Efficiency__ 140.50 [41st]
17___________TDs Passing__________ 26
33.10 [34th]____Scoring Offense___ 33.70 [28th]
399.30 [73rd]___ Total Defense__ 472.00 [113th]
141.30 [52nd]__ Rushing Defense_ 242.80 [117th]
15________ TDs Allowed Rushing________ 26
258.00 [95th]___Passing Defense__ 229.20 [66th]
130.30 [65th]__ Pass Effic. Defense_ 149.89 [106th]
16________ TDs Allowed Passing________ 19
24.50 [52nd]____Scoring Defense__ 37.40 [114th]
+0.20 [46th]__ Turnover Margin___+0.30 [41st]
12 / 7_ ______ Fumbles/Lost_______ 17 / 6
7_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 7
9_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 5
21.55 [62nd]___Kickoff Return Avg._ _ 21.77 [58th]
10.79 [32nd]___ Punt Return Avg.____6.46 [83rd]
38.15 [31st]___ Net Punting Avg.___ 37.09 [50th]
2.10 [46th]_______Sacks By_____ 1.20 [106th]
1.50 [37th]_____ Sacks Allowed_____1.70 [50th]
29:30 [62nd]___ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 28:38 [88th]
37.8% [83rd]___3rd Down Conv.__ 47.5% [20th]
56.3% [T-41st]__4th Down Conv._ 42.1% [T-88th]