A Completely Different Game

Nearly 18 months ago, junior transfer cornerback Khalid Naziruddin walked onto the Texas Tech practice field with one goal in mind: to prove that he was worthy of a spot on the Texas Tech football roster.

From the beginning, strength and conditioning Coach Bennie Wylie noticed Naziruddin as a warrior in the weight room.

"He's one of the hardest working guys we have, as a walk-on," Wylie said of Naziruddin.

During his redshirt year, Naziruddin first showed his work ethic when he threw up 350 pounds on bench press, ranking him among the teams strongest pound for pound players and the Red Raider's strongest defensive back .

Now, five games into the 2004 season, not only has he made a name for himself in the weight room, but more importantly Naziruddin is starting at right corner against some of the nation's best route runners.

So what's the main difference between Division I and Division III?

"D I is a lot faster," remarked Naziruddin. "It's really about the speed of the game."

Last fall, Naziruddin became a Red Raider as a walk on from Division III Howard Payne University. For him, the decision to transfer was all about marketing himself for the opportunity to play at the next level.

"It was a big long process," remembers Naziruddin. "I got accepted my freshman year when I was at Howard Payne and I declined. Then I came back my second year and I decided to make the change. I did want more publicity and I thought Texas Tech would be the perfect place for that."

At 180 pounds and nearly 5-foot-10 inches tall, Khalid Naziruddin is the stereotypical size for a Division I cornerback. When he last played in 2002, he was credited with 58 tackles and two interceptions while helping lead Howard Payne to a 9-1 season.

Naziruddin is originally from Houston and attended Spring Westfield, a 5A suburban high school.

So, what's the nickname? With a name like Naziruddin there has to be some way of shortening things.

"My friends call me Zeus," Naziruddin said.

Last Saturday against second-ranked Oklahoma, Khalid Naziruddin was Texas Tech's second leading tackler credited with eight total take downs and a break-up. Most notable was when Naziruddin and Vincent Meeks stripped OU's Mark Clayton of a touchdown pass from Jason White in the first quarter.

"We had a lot of communication and we went in there (OU) confident. We didn't want to be timid because we knew we'd get beat," said Naziruddin. "They had great receivers and we just lined up against them and played our game. We just didn't want to be nervous."

Overall, the defense has been a much improved team this year from last year's squad, but once again the Red Raiders find themselves on the negative side of the turnover ratio.

As a team, Tech is negative five for the season.

"We realize how important turnovers are," Naziruddin said. "We want more turnovers and we need more turnovers. It affects the outcome of the game. We have been concentrating on that a lot; we've been working on strip drills in practice and we will be focusing a lot more on that against Nebraska."

So, it's back to the comforts of Jones SBC stadium for the first time in two weeks for the Red Raiders. After a brutal schedule during the first five weeks of the season where Tech was on the road four out of five, a few games at home will provide some needed support.

"It's so exciting to come home." Naziruddin said. "We've played a lot of road games, but when we come home and hear the Goin' band and the big crowd yelling 'RaiderPower,' it's a good atmosphere and that's what we like."

Tech's next opponent, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, come to town boasting a 3-1 record after a lackluster victory over the Kansas Jayhawks last Saturday in Lincoln.

The Huskers journey to Lubbock harboring a 7-0 all-time record against Texas Tech, yet their swagger might not be as big as in years past. Even Vegas agrees. Tech is favored by 7.

Nebraska's offense has been anything but spectacular this season, especially the passing game.

"We're not gonna overlook the passing game," Naziruddin said. "We're gonna keep our eyes on (the passing and the running game)"

First year coach Bill Callahan's West Coast Offense has been the talk of Tech defense's film sessions this week.

"I have never seen an offense like this. It's going to be interesting," said Naziruddin. "In practice I'm sure we'll work on it. We will get used to everything they do and we are just going to play Texas Tech football."

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