Oklahoma State beat up Tech up front en route to a 52-34 victory last season in Lubbock. This matchup will be a big test to see just how much the Red Raiders have improved in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
Mike Gundy is 7-2 against Texas Tech since taking over as Oklahoma State head coach on Jan. 3, 2005.
|Offensive Player to Watch|
|Desmond Roland||RB||SR||Dallas, TX||6-2||210||Joe Yeager|
One good thing about facing Arkansas and Alex Collins in game three is that the experience should prepare the Texas Tech Red Raiders, at least somewhat, for Oklahoma State’s Desmond Roland in game four. Not that Tech isn't already well acquainted with Roland—he carried the rock 31 times against the Red Raiders in 2013.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Roland will certainly be one of the largest backs Tech will see in 2014. He is not a game-breaker, but is a plugger and a physical pounder who can wear down a defense.
Last season Roland led Oklahoma State in yards rushing with 811 despite starting only seven games. And he certainly did the vast majority of his damage after moving into the starting lineup. In those seven contests Roland rolled for 664 yards on 140 carries and tallied 11 touchdowns. Roland averaged 4.7 yards per carry during that period.
The Cowboys will use lots of misdirection to get the defense moving one way and allow Roland to cut back against the grain. He reads his blocks well and then runs through tackles when he reaches the second level. Roland is also an end zone magnet who runs tougher the closer he gets to the goal line.
It will be crucial for Tech to equal Roland’s physicality and to tackle very soundly. If the Red Raiders fail to do this, Roland is more than capable of chewing up the defense.
|Defensive Player to Watch|
|James Castleman||DE||SR||Amarillo, TX||6-2||300||Jarret Johnson|
James Castleman is a sore spot for Red Raider fans as the senior was once a Tech commit who flipped to Oklahoma State.
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle has lived up to the hype surrounding him coming out of Amarillo High School in 2011.
Though he'll never have monster statistics, the senior has been a dominating physical presence for one of the best defensive lines in the Big 12 during his time in Stillwater.
Castleman is an immovable object who led the Cowboys' interior linemen with 33 tackles last season to go along with a sack, two blocked kicks and perhaps the most memorable play in the conference with a forced fumble and subsequent recovery against Baylor during a goal line stand.
If the Red Raiders want to establish a rushing attack and/or keep Davis Webb's jersey clean they will have to account for Castleman.