Red Raider Defense vs. Longhorn Offense
Any mention of the Longhorn offense always includes a discussion of Heisman candidate Vince Young. He is the "X-factor" for their team, and forces opposing defenses to rewrite their gameplans to try and slow him down. First, he beats you with his legs. Then, when defenses creep up to spy on him, he has enough talent in his arm to hit the wide-open guys. That being said, it's dangerous for Texas to have so much dependence upon one player. The Longhorns have an unproven backup in Matt Nordgren, and it would be awfully difficult for him to have to play against a team as tough as the Red Raiders.
Sure, Jamaal Charles is also talented, and is also a major threat in the ground game. That is, when he is complementing Vince Young. There is no telling how much success he would have if Young was out of the game and the defense could key on him. Why the mentions of the potential repercussions of Vince Young's absence? The answer is simple: Dwayne Slay. Slay has forced six fumbles in six games, and has been hurting players in the process with his incredibly hard hits. Since Young is a rushing quarterback who makes his way into the secondary often, Young could easily have a high-speed collision with Slay and be taken out of the game.
That's not to say that the rest of the much-improved Tech defense should be taken lightly. As a unit, they're forcing three turnovers a game, which has been instrumental in changing the course of several games this year. Although the run defense is still questionable, the group is comprised of more sure tacklers and speed than the Red Raiders have seen in a long time. The secondary is more talented than ever, with excellent safeties in Slay and Vincent Meeks, and the corners are much improved, although they still allow too much of a cushion sometimes. Still, this is not a defense that opposing offenses have been imposing their will on this season, and Saturday's matchup should be no different.
For Texas to win, they need to be patient and play their game. If they can wear down the Red Raider defense with the running game and not try to force anything, they should be able to control the clock and put up enough points to put significant pressure on the Texas Tech offense. However, if Vince Young tries to do it all himself and thinks he'll be able to run free in the secondary, he may be in for a painful surprise. The Longhorns will need some more creative playcalling than usual to keep the Tech defense on their heels. Otherwise, the Red Raiders have the potential to get the ball back in the hands of the nation's most prolific offense.
To pull off the upset, Texas Tech needs to play a nearly perfect game defensively. The Tech offense will score points like they always do. The Red Raider defense must force a few punts and turnovers to give their offense a chance to take the lead and keep it. If not, the crowd in Austin will rally behind UT and allow the Longhorns to run away with it like last year's game. The nation finds out this weekend which undefeated Big 12 team is for real.