Keys to the Game

RaiderPower takes an in-depth look at the keys to the game for the Texas Tech - Texas matchup, while avoiding the usual common sense analyses. What must the Red Raiders do to get the big upset over the Longhorns like they did in 2002? Come inside to find out.

1. Punish the UT secondary.  This probably sounds strange, considering that Texas's secondary is one of the fastest and most talented units in the nation on paper.  However, several teams have been able to beat the unit on big plays.  Baylor had a 67-yard touchdown on their first play from scrimmage and a 56-yard run later in the game.  Nebraska had passing touchdowns of 63, 25, and 49 yards last week.  What to read from this is that Texas' aggressive style of defense can be exploited.  The secondary will go all-out for the interception instead of the sure tackle, and goes for the big hit as opposed to taking the best angle and wrapping up.  They create lots of turnovers, but give up quite a few big plays as well.  The Texas defense is the anti-"bend but don't break."   

2. Keep the damn ball.  There is arguably not a better defense in the nation at forcing turnovers and getting defensive touchdowns than UT.  We absolutely cannot afford to hand them the lead on a dumb turnover, especially early in the game.  Texas will punish us for our mistakes, and will simply eat away the clock with their running offense if they have a lead and make a comeback nearly impossible.  I'm fully aware that when we defeated Texas in '02. we were down 14 early in the game.  They won't make the mistake of giving us a chance the way that they did then.  If we plan on winning this game, we must keep it close at all times.  The key to making this happen is to score early and put the pressure on Texas to answer our touchdowns.  It's about the momentum.

3. Make Shannon Woods a receiver.  I am suggesting this strategy for this game only, because running the ball in a conventional style with off-tackles and misdirections simply isn't going to work against Texas' defensive line.  If we must run Shannon, I vote for either toss plays or well-timed draws.  However, I think Woods'  potential in this game will be maximized as a receiver.  We will need him on screens and short routes to help defeat the Texas blitz.  And yes, they will blitz.  A few shovel passes might work wonders as well.  The reason Shannon needs to be a receiver for this game is so Harrell will have an out when he is pressured.  I also wouldn't mind seeing Grant Walker get worked in more at Y, considering how well he works back to the QB as a safety valve.

4. Bend but don't let UT run it down our throats/get their receivers behind coverage.  It's a tough assignment, defense, but you can do it.  The Texas offense thrives on one thing.  They establish their run game and then beat you with the deep ball.  That's pretty much all there is to it.  This is scary, considering the safeties are usually the ones making the tackles.  The defensive line and linebackers need to come to play for this one.  Texas will probably run the zone read, but has been working in more screens and short passes in the Baylor and Nebraska games.  One thing that I have never seen is UT throwing a bunch of short passes over the middle.  I think our linebackers can afford to commit most of their attention to the run game.  At least I hope so.

5. Have fun.  This worked wonders last week.  I liked the "celebrate together" attitude, as it channels the emotions towards building each other up.  Sure, the game against Texas is big for the rest of our season.  However, if we concentrate on its importance too much and play anxiously, we will not play as well.  Remember why you play the game, and that is for moments where you can celebrate with your teammates and the fans after a huge win.  Settle down, relax, and remember how good of a team that you can actually be when you play together.  We can beat UT.  We really can.  However, to get it done, we will have to play to our potential.  Remember 2002.  Play like that, and take UT down, get the big win, and earn the nation's respect once again.

-Trent Wycoff

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


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