Texas Tech 3 Keys: New Mexico

Texas Tech face the lowly Lobos today but would like to brush up a few thing before facing No. 5 Texas next week. Here are three keys to Red Raiders win.

THE MATCHUP

Texas Tech (1-0) at New Mexico (0-1)

7 p.m. CDT, University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

Line: Texas Tech by 24

Radio: Texas Tech Sports Network (Listings)/Sirius Ch. 126

TV: The Mtn., DirecTV Ch. 616

Red Raiders: W, 35-27 over SMU

Lobos: L, 72-0 to No. 8 Oregon

Series: Tech leads all-time series 33-6-2

Tech Last Won: 2009, 48-28 at Lubbock

UNM Last Won: 2004, 27-24 at Albuquerque

 

1. Striking Quick

The Red Raiders stalled on their first two drives against SMU last weekend and needed a turnover on special teams to get things going. Judging by the statistics, you would think Texas Tech should not have a problem getting in the end zone early and often, but weirder things have happened.

I think the passing game dominates the opening drive until Tech enters the red zone, where it was pretty even as far as run-pass plays last weekend. If quarterback Taylor Potts can find Lyle Leong, Detron Lewis and others quickly, the offensive line won't have to worry too much about their fearless leader being hit seven times like Game 1.

2. Establishing the Run

It's no mystery that Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville has put an emphasis on the Red Raiders improving their ground game after a poor performance against the Mustangs (98 yards). A healthy Mickey Okafor in the rotation could help Tech in staying consistent on the field, especially if the somewhat higher altitude comes into play (4,900 feet above sea level).

Expect to see Baron Batch get the ball at least 10 times during the first half and maybe more depending on if/when the coaches decide to call off the dogs should the Red Raiders get up big. Then they would have the chance to experiment a little more with Ben McRoy at running back and give the fast freshman some more reps before No. 5 Texas comes to Lubbock in one week.

McRoy had just one carry for eight yards to help set up the first touchdown pass to Lyle Leong. New Mexico gave up 369 rushing yards on 58 carries to No. 8 Oregon in last weekend's 72-0 loss and could be in for a long day in the trenches if Tech gets rolling.

Likewise, Tech would like to keep the Lobos from establishing their ground game and gain more confidence before facing Tre Newton and company next week.

3. Consistency

Consistency for Tech on offense, consistency on defense, but also a better performance on special teams will be a big focus on today. Other than the forced fumble by Cornelius Douglas on an SMU punt return and a touchdowns saving tackle by Ben McRoy on a late kickoff return, there was nothing "special" about the third piece of football for the Red Raiders on Sunday.

Tech allowed SMU to block both field goal attempts by Matt  Williams (47 yards) and Donnie Carona (51 yards) leaving the starting position up for grabs heading into today's game at University Stadium. Both kickers made the trip, which is nothing out of the ordinary, but it will be interesting to see who is taking the main portion of warm-ups before kickoff.

Speaking of kickoff, coverage is a big concern for Tuberville's group — a point the coach brought up on Monday saying there would be a few changes to the starting lineup for kickoff and punt coverages. I don't see any trick plays coming out of the bag and there's no telling right now if penciled in starter Austin Zouzalik, who's been rehabbing since an appendectomy on Aug. 8, will get the majority of punt returns in the game. It could be a nice chance to get plenty of practice if Tech halts the Lobos on their drives and forces a punt every five minutes.

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