The Red Raiders once again have a high powered offense capable of scoring a lot of points, and quickly. How many times have you seen the Red Raiders down by two touchdowns in a game in recent years – only to come back and win, sometimes by several touchdowns? It happened at the Insight Bowl just last December when the Red Raiders were down 38-7 to Minnesota – and came back to win 44-41 in OT. Graham Harrell is back at QB for Tech, having thrown an arm numbing 4,555 for a completion rate of 69%. Shannon Woods returns at RB. Imagine perhaps a more explosive Brandon Whitaker, the Baylor RB who was so effective against Rice last week. Woods rushed for 926 yards last year and added 75 catches. The biggest problem for the Owls will be handling Tech's receivers. They have a size advantage on most teams including the Owls. L.A. Reed is 6'2 201 and played at Conroe Oak Ridge. Michael Crabtree, the star of this group so far is a former highly recruited basketball player. He's 6-3 208 and has 27 catches for 294 yards this season. Rashad Hawk is a big 6-4 190 pounds freshman from Copperas Cove. The slot receiver is Eric Morris. Playing wide is a local product, Danny Amendola. He's from the Woodlands and actually had a keen interest in Rice but wasn't recruited by previous staff here. It's a shame because he's a dynamic return guy too. Amendola has been plenty "fast enough" for the Red Raiders.
Right now the Owls just have to get to a point where they play football without thinking. I think this is a game where they can do that. No one outside the locker room really expects the Owls to win today – so the underdog position lets them play without a lot of pressure. The Owls are a capable team. They just haven't shown it in games so far. If I'm the coach today I have them focusing on executing fundamentals – no turnovers and get some takeaways, minimize penalties, block and tackle. I try to keep the ball as much as possible and score when I'm in the redzone. I don't think the Owls will be looking at scoreboard much today. The opponent they haven't been able to beat this year has been themselves.
I like the fact that Coach Bailiff is making changes. The defense had a bad game last week. Mis-alignments and blown coverage responsibilities made the Bears look a lot a better that they probably are. The Owls worked on the "tip drill" plenty in practice this week too after failing to record a single interception given many chances last week. The defense will look like this today:
Keys to Success:
Today this game really isn't so much about the score. The Owls really need to make strides today in their performance as a team. They will certainly see points scored –hopefully they will answer and continue to develop the rhythm we saw signs of last week in Waco. Enjoy the game – wrap up tomorrow.