5 Questions: Texas Tech
1. The Red Raiders are playing better on defense since Mike Smith took over as defensive coordinator. What changes did he make to the defense? They are playing better. Tech is still giving up points and yards, but they are making more big plays, including outside linebacker Pete Robertson, who leads the Big 12 in sacks. I would say the main thing Smith has done is do away with a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage and is just having his guys play their responsibility. They know where to fit in run defense, so they aren't thinking, they are just reacting. Tech could have as many as four starters out this week, so Smith will be challenged by TCU and a lack of depth. 2. Davis Webb has had an up and down season thus far; what's been his biggest strengths and weaknesses this season? His biggest strength is his arm strength. The guy has a cannon. Completing a deep out from the far hash against good coverage is not a problem for Webb. The problem is far too often he'll turn around and miss a wide open receiver on a five-yard slant on a crucial third down. He's also good for one or two "who was he throwing that to decisions," which is why he has already thrown 12 interceptions this season. 3. Reports indicate that receivers Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez could miss Saturday's game against TCU. Is that accurate and if so, how big of a blow would that be to Tech's offense? I'd be surprised if either missed. They are two of the toughest guys on the team. Kingsbury said earlier this week he expects Grant to play and so do I. If one or both can't go then there is a major drop off in experience, but not at all in talent. Freshmen inside receivers Ian Sadler and Cameron Batson are the next men up and they have received more and more playing time as the season has progressed. When Marquez went down last week against Kansas, Sadler, who Dallas/Fort Worth fans might be familiar with after he led Argyle to a state title last season, hauled in four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Batson has been the punt returner all season and is the reigning Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year. 4. These two teams have played close games the last two seasons, what's the general feeling from the players and fans about heading to Ft. Worth with TCU having a surprising season? The players are excited for the game as several played with or against many on TCU's squad. The coaches have said all the right things in terms of showing respect for what TCU has accomplished so far. Most of the fans on the board considered TCU a win heading into the season due to all the success against the Horned Frogs in the past (12-3 since 1985) . Now, most Tech fans seem to be bracing for a bludgeoning due to the Red Raiders' disappointing play coupled with TCU's drastic improvement. 5. What are your keys for the Red Raiders to pull off the upset over the Horned Frogs? This is a cliche, but Tech MUST win the turnover battle, something they haven't done in 15 consecutive games. The Red Raiders will also have to jump out to an early lead so they can continue to stay balanced on offense. Though Tech will never be confused with a physical ground and pound squad, they do feature the third leading rusher in the Big 12 as Deandre Washington has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Freshman running back Justin Stockton may be the fastest guy on the team and has shown an ability as a home run hitter. If Tech gets one dimensional TCU will feast on Webb and turn the game into the laugher everyone, including Vegas, expects. If Tech can keep it close we could have yet another interesting fourth quarter-plus on Saturday.
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