Baucum's Bits

Staff writer John Baucum will be doing a weekly look at three positives and three areas where the Red Raiders could use some improvement. Here's this week's installment.

Texas Tech's road victory of New Mexico showed fans some great improvement in a few aspects of the game and also provided some room for improvement in others as the Red Raiders prepare for Saturday's matchup against No. 6 Texas (7 p.m., Jones AT&T Stadium).

Good: Special teams.

This is a welcome change for Texas Tech. If you'll recall, special teams was on last week's not so good list for us and head coach Tommy Tuberville. The Red Raiders' two blocked punts and a 93-yard kickoff return by Eric Stephens halted any lingering concerns about the long-term health of Tech's special teams unit. By the way, Stephens has 1,064 career kickoff return yards. He should break Donny Anderson's career record of 1,309 sometime this season.

Not so good: Rushing defense.

New Mexico rushed the ball 27 times for 97 yards. While that average is pretty good for the Tech defense, it's disappointing that New Mexico was able to pick up several key first downs through the middle of Tech's defense. Some intense work will need to be done if the Red Raiders hope to slow down UT's talented tailbacks

Good: 4th down conversions.

After going 0-3 on 4th down against SMU, Tech went 2-3 and really put some pressure on a feisty New Mexico defense. Tech's ability to keep drives going is important as the transition to Neal Brown's NASCAR offense continues.

Not so good: The deep ball.

Tech's young but talented secondary was challenged quite a bit more in this game than I anticipated. DJ Johnson made some great plays against SMU, but didn't fare as well against UNM. We'll also need to monitor the health of safety Franklin Mitchem, who left the game with knew injury and did not return.

Good: Lyle Leong.

Watch out Michael Crabtree. Through two games, Leong has five touchdowns. Crabtree's record of 22 in a single season could conceivably be reached. Whether Leong gets there or not is unimportant. Red Raider fans have got to like Leong's performance, especially considering the limited production Texas Tech has gotten from the other receiver positions. However, the return of Alex Torres and Austin Zouzalik should open things up a bit for Potts as the season progresses.

Not so good: Turnovers.

It's common knowledge, but no team that expects to win big games can accomplish that goal by having turnovers in the red zone. Had Batch not lost that ball, Tech goes up 28-3 and much of the momentum that New Mexico gained after fans leaving the stadium would have replaced that play and UNM players hanging their heads a bit. Potts' fumble is unfortunately an inherent risk for a team that throws it as much as Texas Tech does. However, that doesn't diminish the importance of ball security. Expect Tuberville and his staff to address that this week. Stay tuned to RaiderPower.com for all your insider news from Texas Tech sports.


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