INSIDE SLANT: Texas Tech

Can the Red Raiders find the perfect way to sync their high-powered offense with their physical defense on the same day? And will special teams play the role it needs to in order to keep mistakes from costing Tech the game?

INSIDE SLANT

All season the Texas Tech Red Raiders waited for an offensive game like the one they had against Baylor last week.

Tech won the game, 45-38. But it was the precise way the offense performed that caught the eye of coach Tommy Tuberville.

While passing for 462 yards and rushing for 173 yards, the Red Raiders finally looked like the offensive machine Tuberville envisioned when he became their coach last winter.

"I told the players (Monday) in our team meeting that one thing I noticed offensively was we looked a lot more consistent and a lot more physical," Tuberville said. "We were very good on third down, which I thought was the difference in the game.

"We were 10 out of 16 on third-down conversions, and that is huge, especially when you throw the ball as much as we do. We controlled the ball as we had (95) offensive snaps, and it was obvious."

Tuberville, though, admits there are things the Raiders (3-2, 1-2 Big 12) need to nip in the bud before they host 18th-ranked Oklahoma State (5-0, 1-0) Saturday.

For starters, Baylor ran a botched on-side kick by Danny Carona 38 yards for a touchdown. It was the second straight game that Carona had an on-side kick run back for a touchdown.

The Bears also perfectly executed a fake punt on fourth-and-7 that netted 34 yards and was the big play that highlighted Baylor's third touchdown.

In addition, the Bears ran up and down the field to the tune of 507 total yards. And they managed to finish the game without committing any turnovers.

"We played much better in the game in some areas and some areas we didn't," Tuberville said. "We did enough to get the win, it was an exciting game in Dallas and I think that everybody watching the game on television and in the stands had a fun game to watch.

"It's tough on coaches to go through games like that because of the ups and downs. (But) I saw our team grow mentally and physically throughout the game."

Oklahoma State also grew throughout its game last week against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cowboys trailed in that contest 21-17 at halftime before scoring 24 points in the third quarter en route to claiming a 54-28 victory.

OSU's Big Three of quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter and wide receiver Justin Blackmon completely took over that game. Weeden was 29 of 47 for 351 yards and five touchdowns, Hunter rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and Blackmon caught a career-high 13 passes for 190 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"Going into the game against Oklahoma State, they have a high-powered offense and they have scored a lot of points," Tuberville said. "Again, our defense has to improve.

"If we are going to give ourselves a chance to win the game, we are going to have to play better defensively. Offensively, we are in a rhythm, but we have to continue to go out and do that. We can't take any weeks off. And the same thing with special teams."

NOTES, QUOTES

— One of the bright spots early in the season, defensive end Scott Smith was suspended indefinitely last Friday for breaking team rules. And coach Tommy Tuberville said the suspension would last for the remainder of the season. "We aren't doing this to make an example out of anybody. But when we come in, we set rules and (the players) know the rules and what we go by."

— At age 30, Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown is the third-youngest coordinator in the FBS.

— That botched on-side kick by Donnie Carona against Baylor has become a YouTube hit. On the play, Carona booted the kickoff just eight yards, and he and two other teammates stood and watched as Baylor's Terrance Ganaway picked it up and ran 38 yards for a TD. On Monday, the 22-second clip was viewed by 2.8 million folks.

— The Red Raiders will wear camouflage uniforms against Missouri on Nov. 6 to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The WWP is a non-profit company which provides a support group and services to injured members of the armed forces and their families.

SERIES HISTORY: Texas Tech leads Oklahoma State, 21-13-3 (last meeting, 2009, 24-17 Oklahoma State).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE

As they showed against Baylor, there's nothing wrong with the Red Raiders' offense that a few successful rushing plays can't fix. Tech had 18 passing plays and five rushing plays that went for 10 or more yards against Baylor. That balanced attack -- 462 yards passing, 173 yards rushing -- enabled the Raiders to put on their best offensive performance of the season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have gotten more aggressive on defensive lately. They didn't have any interceptions in their first two games, but have eight in their last three games.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE

Tech can't miss assignments on defense like it did against Baylor and expect to go home with a win. Oklahoma State has a more proficient offense than the Bears, and Baylor was able to hang 38 points and 507 yards on the Raiders. Tech's defense will receive one of its stiffest challenges of the season this week. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden is fourth in the nation in passing yards per game (322), running back Kendall Hunter is fifth in the country in rushing yards per game (140) and wide receiver Justin Blackmon is first in the country in receptions per game (9.4) and receiving yards per game (149.6).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It is hard to improve on 45 points and 600 yards, but we can do that. We can eliminate mistakes and be better in certain situations." -- Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, Oct. 16 -- Texas Tech finally exploded on offense last week against a solid team, as it ran up 635 yards in the win over Baylor. But the Red Raiders can ill-afford any special-teams blunders like the two crucial ones that cost them 14 points against the Bears. OSU has one of the best trios in America at the skilled positions in QB Brandon Weeden, RB Kendall Hunter and WR Justin Blackmon.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Red Raiders finally located their running game last week against Baylor when they rushed for a season-high 173 yards on 36 carries. If Tech can match that performance -- and if quarterback Taylor Potts can continue throwing strikes -- the Red Raiders could conceivably go 6-1 down the stretch. Oklahoma State consistently gets off to slow starts, so Tech must take advantage of that. OSU trailed in the first halves of games against Troy, Texas A&M and Louisiana-Lafayette before rallying for victories.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB Taylor Potts — He's first in the nation in passes completed per game (32.2), third in passing yards per game (329.8) and eighth in passing yards (1,649).

CB Jarvis Phillips Leads the country in interceptions per game at .80. Phillips has returned four interceptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.

WR Lyle Leong Did not score a touchdown for the first time this season last week against Baylor. But he has nine TDs on the year and is tied with OSU's Kendall Hunter for 11th in the nation in scoring at 10.8 points per game.

ROSTER REPORT

DE Aundrey Barr will miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee and sitting out against Baylor. Barr had surgery to repair his torn meniscus.

— OT Chris Olson was used effectively on one running play at tight end against Baylor because of a shortage of burly players at that position. Olson also went out on a passing route during one play.

— CB Will Ford is still dealing with hamstring problems that first popped up in the preseason. Ford missed the Baylor game after pulling the hamstring last week in practice.

— DL Bobbie Agoucha did not dress for the game against Baylor because of a concussion, and probably won't play against Oklahoma State.

LB Sam Fehoko only got in a few snaps against Baylor because of an injured knee, and he could be limited again this week.


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