Matchups and Keys: Tech vs. New Mexico

Fitzgerald looks at the matchup for the Red Raiders this weekend and breaks down what matchups to look at and what the keys are for victory.

It's not really fair to use New Mexico's game last week against Texas, not that anyone saw it, as a measuring stick for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but I will argue that the Red Raiders are a more similar team to the longhorns defensively than they were last year. And if the Texas Tech wants to be in the hunt for a Big 12 title, then the Longhorns are going to be one of the teams they are measured against.

Red Raider defense vs. UNM QB

With Lamaar Thomas probably out at running back for New Mexico, the focus is entirely on the quarterback. The good news is that with BR Holbrook cleared to play for New Mexico, there in an experienced QB running that offense and the Red Raider defense won't be playing a true freshman starting his first game of major college football. Why is that good? You need better competition and Holbrook, even if not 100 percent is probably a better option to defend based on what you're going to see with Iowa State, TCU and K-State. There's no secret this week, shut down the New Mexico QB, whether it's Holbrook or Cole Gautsche and you shut down the Lobo offense. On the first drive in Austin, Holbrook and company held the ball for over 12 minutes of the first quarter and kept the Longhorn offense off of the field. The game plan will probably be the same in this scenario, trying to keep the potent Texas Tech offense at bay.

Red Raider backs vs. UNM front seven

This is probably a golden opportunity to work on the running game and really get a feeling of what you might have moving forward into conference. Texas did not run the ball as well as they wanted to against the Lobos last week.  In comparison, if Kenny Williams, Sadale Foster and Eric Stephens can hit the 180 yard average they have brought into the first two games of the season, then you have to feel pretty good about what you are able to do offensively.

"We want to give all 3 the ball," said Neal Brown referring to his trio of RBs. "I don't see that changing. You'll see Sadale in all of our 2 back sets, and Kenny will be used more inside. Kenny had his best game pass blocking against Texas State that he's had since he's been here."

That bodes well for Williams, who I think will probably get the greater majority of the carries as the season goes along due to his yards per carry average and his ability to run inside a little bit better.  The Red Raiders also want to make sure Stephens is as healthy as possible going into conference because he's the only one who has shouldered an entire season in the Big 12 before as a featured back.

Biggest Mismatch: Seth Doege vs. UNM Secondary

With all of the above said, I look for the Red Raiders to attack the field from all areas like they did Saturday versus Texas State. UNM probably sold out to the run against Texas, uglied the game up a bit and then tried to make David Ash beat them. Ash did that. I see this game going two different ways. 1) Texas Tech tries to establish the run to see where they really are offensively as a line, running game and passing attack. They run the ball early, UNM adjusts  and tries to stop the run a little more and then Doege kills them with his arsenal of "dangerous" weapons. 2) Doege hits them early and often, building a cushion and then works on finding the rhythm of the running game. Either way, it's going to be a good day for the good guys because of who the Red Raiders have under center.


Keys to UNM

1)     Stay healthy. Knock on wood. Try to get everyone healed up going into conference. Iowa State is the most important game of the season, and you're going to need everyone in Ames.

2)     Red Zone attempts for UNM. Not only did Texas shut out UNM, they did not allow the Lobo offense past the 20. Another good motivation stat for the Red Raiders this week.

3)     Third down percentage in the first half. Last week Texas St. was 5/7 on 3rd Downs in the first half and also made a 4th down attempt, so essentially they were 6/7. This has to get better, especially early in the game.

4)     Zero turnovers on offense. Do what you do. Roll up a big number and hold onto the ball. The turnover last week was just a lack of concentration, but everyone will feel better playing a clean game going into conference.

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