Keys to the Game

RaiderPower takes an in-depth look at the keys to the game for the Texas Tech - TCU matchup, while avoiding the usual common sense analyses. What must the Red Raiders do to escape with a win? Come inside to find out.

1. Shut down the TCU running game.  Lontay Hobbs and Robert Merrill are not expected to play according to their weekly release of the depth chart.  However, Aaron Brown has done well in their absence, and is still a talented runner.  Furthermore, it is entirely possible that the TCU administration is trying to pull one over on our coaching staff with the information that they have released.  What is encouraging is that Texas Tech's run defense has actually looked solid thus far, and our much-maligned defensive scheme actually suits TCU's offense fairly well.

2. Disrupt the rhythm of Jeff Ballard.  Ballard is undefeated with eleven consecutive wins as a starter, and that is an impressive statistic even in the Mountain West Conference.  If TCU is forced to become one-dimensional with their third-string tailback, they could be in for a long afternoon.  However, keep in mind that TCU will finally have their arguably best receiver, Michael DePriest, back from injury.  The secondary must be sure that they keep an eye on him as he is talented enough to exploit poor coverage.

3. Punish the 4-2-5.  We have the inside receiving threats to absolutely destroy the two-linebacker scheme. I would like to see us move us down the field by finding the holes with our talented receivers.  Their secondary is inexperienced and has looked shaky, and Tech must exploit this weakness.  Then, when they start giving a cushion, give the Frogs a steady dose of Shannon and Baron.  If the Frogs defense can't shut our team down, then they won't stand a chance trying to outscore our Red Raiders.

4. Protect Graham Harrell.  I know, I said this last week, but it is even more applicable this week.  TCU's defensive strength is their line, and as poised as Graham has looked, he hasn't been pressured much yet thanks to stellar offensive line play.  I don't want to have to find out how Harrell will handle it in a tough road environment.  If Harrell gets the same kind of time that he has had in the pocket thus far, we will likely be able to score enough points to get out of Fort Worth with a win.

5. Our linebackers must be a factor.  Every TCU fan, player, and coach most likely watched our game against UTEP to find weaknesses.  With the way Johnnie Lee Higgins punished our linebackers on slants, you can bet that TCU is going to try a similar strategy when they throw the ball.  Furthermore, the outside linebackers must provide run support with all of the options that TCU runs, and the missed tackles simply can't happen.  TCU will make us pay if we don't wrap up, and that goes for all of the defensive units.

This will undoubtedly be a tough road game.  Any outcome is possible, as this one may likely depend on who wants it more.  One thing is for sure; TCU will come to play after last time's blowout at the hands of the Red Raiders.  The Red Raider contingent, which will include myself, must make their presence known.  A half-hearted effort from the fans and players won't get it done this week.  I know I will be much happier if we can get out of this one with a win.

-Trent Wycoff

(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at

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