Offense Figures to Win the Day

Texas Tech (2-0) hosts Arkansas (1-1) 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, TX.

KEY ARKANSAS STATS
CATEGORYSTATISTICNAT'L RANK
Rushing Yards Per Game32412
Rushing Yards Per Carry9.41
Passing Yards Per Game182103
Kickoff Return Average27.716
Sacks713
Third Down Conversion %29.4111
Red Zone TD Percentage77.829
Rush Yards Allowed Per Game16889
Pass Yards Allowed Per Game25191
Total Yards Allowed Per Game41991


The worst-kept secret in the Big 12 this weekend is the fact Arkansas will run the football against Texas Tech, and will likely enjoy a good deal of success doing so.

The Hogs, after all, lead the nation in rushing yards per carry (9.4) and are No. 12 in rushing yards per game (324). Texas Tech, unfortunately enough, has been decidedly weak against the run this season, and against competition that is far inferior to what the Red Raiders will face Saturday.

But there is yet another discouraging word. For while the Razorbacks run the ball as well as anybody, their passing attack is just good enough to make that ground game even tougher to defend. Thus, while Arkansas passes for only 182 yards per game, their passing efficiency rating is an impressive No. 27 nationally. Texas Tech’s, by way of comparison, is No. 23. So while the Red Raider defense will be tempted to go all in to slow Arkansas’ mauling ground attack, it cannot afford to ignore the pass entirely lest the Razorbacks score on three-play drives in addition to those that take 18.

That, from Texas Tech’s perspective, is the bad news. But are there any hopeful portents? Perhaps.

Generally speaking, Arkansas has been borderline woeful on defense. And they’ve managed to underwhelm comprehensively rather than in one facet of defensive football.

Hence, while the Hogs are No. 89 in rushing defense, they are also No. 91 in pass defense. Furthermore, They are No. 113 in red zone touchdown percentage defense.

Is this putrescence a function of a crushing early schedule? Not entirely. For while Arkansas did open with mighty Auburn, their second outing was against something called Nicholls State.

Arkansas’ defense is physical and athletic, but it has yet to put the pieces together. Assuming Razorback troubles are not suddenly solved by a visit to Jones Stadium, Texas Tech’s offense could certainly have a big day. The Red Raider rushing attack has shown surprising strength early in the season and also boasts explosive-play capability with speed demon Justin Stocking prowling the Tech backfield.

The continued threat of Tech’s ground game will eventually spring talented Davis Webb and his deep corps of receivers to have the sort of monster game that was routine during the palmiest days of Mike Leach’s tenure.

It is not out of the question that the breakout could happen against Arkansas. And Tech will certainly need a big game on offense because the Razorbacks will definitely score a passel of points themselves. Put it altogether and it looks like a donnybrook is in the offing that Texas Tech partisans will long remember.

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