Who: Texas Tech (1-1, 0-0) vs. Louisiana Tech (1-1, 0-0)
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
When: Saturday, September 17, 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Media: Fox Sports Net (TV), Texas Tech Radio Network (radio)
2015: Records: Texas Tech (7-6, 4-5), Louisiana Tech (9-4, 6-2)
Coaches: Texas Tech (Kliff Kingsbury 20-20), Louisiana Tech (Skip Holtz 23-18)
Series History: Texas Tech leads 1-0 (Texas Tech 40, Louisiana Tech 10, October 20, 1933)
When Louisiana Tech Has the Ball
Unlike Texas Tech, Louisiana Tech has a balanced offense. Throwing the ball is the Bulldogs’ forte, but they can run it if they need to. Through two games Louisiana Tech has passed 91 times and run 36, which is a 72%/28% split.
The Bulldogs average 5.4 yards per tote, and have completed 60 of 91 passes with three interceptions and five touchdowns.
Two quarterbacks have seen extensive action for Louisiana Tech. Freshman J’Mar Smith started one game and has a passer rating of 133, while senior Ryan Higgins, whose passer rating is 149, has also started a game. Through two games, neither quarterback has put up big rushing numbers.
The undisputed star of Louisiana Tech’s offense is receiver Trent Taylor, who has 19 receptions for 256 yards through two games, and has hauled in three touchdown passes. Last season Taylor caught 99 passes for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, and is currently the sixth most prolific receiver in school history. After this season the senior from Shreveport will rank considerably higher than that. And despite being only 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, he will get a hard look from NFL scouts.
The Louisiana Tech offense will see a Texas Tech defense that is already in turmoil. After beginning the season in fine form against a weak opponent (Stephen F. Austin), the Red Raider defense collapsed in the Arizona heat when stressed by the Arizona State Sun Devils. Louisiana Tech’s offense, which is probably midway between the offenses of Texas Tech’s earlier opponents, will provide further clues about the fitness of the Red Raider stop unit.
Texas Tech currently gives up 43 points, 180 rushing yards, and 332 passing yards per contest. Particularly worrisome, opponents have cashed in nine of 10 times in the red zone, with eight of those scores being touchdowns.
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
As questionable as Texas Tech’s defense is, its offense is equally lethal. And the Red Raiders have put up huge stats thus far without utilizing the ground game. Texas Tech running backs have carried the ball 24 times, while quarterback Pat Mahomes, often via the scramble, has carried the rock 21 times. The Red Raiders average 99 rushing yards per contest.
Passing is another story. Mahomes has a stratospheric passer rating of 187, is completing 71 percent of his passes, and has thrown for 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns, while lobbing only two picks.
Three receivers, Devin Lauderdale, Jonathan Giles, and Cameron Batson, already have double-digit reception totals, with Batson leading the trio in yards-per-catch average at 14.3. Running back Justin Stockton has been a scintillating receiver out of the backfield, nabbing seven passes and averaging 23 yards per grab.
Louisiana Tech’s defense, which returns only three starters, has been pretty tough against both the run and the pass. Opponents average 131 rushing yards per contest, and only 3.3 yards per rush. Enemy quarterbacks have completed only 34 of 60 passes, and the Bulldogs surrender a minuscule 164 passing yards per game. Obviously, the latter statistic will be dented badly by confronting Texas Tech’s aerial attack.
Senior safety Xavier Woods has been Louisiana Tech’s best defender to this point, recording 15 tackles, a sack, an interception and a pass defended.