Keys to the Game

RaiderPower takes an in-depth look at the keys to the game for the Texas Tech - Baylor matchup, while avoiding the usual common sense analyses. What must the Red Raiders do to avoid a letdown against the Bears? Come inside to find out.

1. Spy on Blake Szymanski.  It shouldn't be a secret that the Baylor offense is going to rely more on the running game without Shawn Bell.  Blake Szymanski is a capable runner, and will potentially beat us with his legs more than his arm.  Expect a possible scheme change to more of a zone read or option type offense as well to utilize his legs, especially if the passing game struggles.  Don't forget about the running back, either.  Paul Mosley does not have incredible numbers, but he doesn't get that many touches, either.  He is more dangerous than the statistics would lead you to believe.  With our struggles in defending against the run, do not be surprised to see Szymanski and Mosley try and beat us on the ground.  If the Bears are forced to beat us through the air, we'll be okay.

2. Don't get beat deep.  Baylor is not afraid to go for the home run with talented wideouts Zeigler and Shelton.  They have less to lose, and more to gain from "hail mary" passes.  Look at their first play from scrimmage against UT.  It was a long pass that went for a TD, because Texas didn't expect it.  My message to the defensive backs is this:  keep the play in front of you.  Baylor and an inexperienced quarterback should not be able to dink and dunk their way to victory  with 50+ passes in the game.  The way that the Bears could possibly beat us is with the run game and long bomb passes.  Our defense needs to be patient and play smart to shut down the Baylor offense.  We don't have to try to "make plays happen" on defense.  Our offense should take care of that part.

3. Never let up.  I don't care if we're up by fifty points at halftime, I want to see 100% effort every snap.  No one should complain about us running up the score after the B.S. that we dealt with last week.  Even if they do, who gives a flying fornication?  No freaking mercy.  We absolutely must learn how to remove all complacency from our minds regardless of the score.  We aren't better than any team unless we prove it our there on the field with the final score of the game.  You think Guy Morriss or that WTAMU traitor would let up if they were dominating us?  I won't feel sorry for Baylor.  They are a DI-A school in one of the nation's better conferences in the backyard of one of the best recruiting pools of talent in the nation.  They chose their place with the big boys.

4. Minimize offensive mistakes.  I realize that this is a "duh" statement, but what I mean is that if we simply execute our offense well, we should be in good shape for this game.  The way that we will give Baylor a chance is if we commit turnovers and 3-and-outs, which puts a tired defense on the field.  This was our demise against Texas.  Just execute out there, and move the ball.  We don't need home run plays or chicanery to win this one.  If we run the shorter routes well, Baylor should have trouble stopping us all game long.  And if the safeties start creeping up to stop the midrange routes, then we can beat them deep.  Play our game, and we'll win.  The system works, and Harrell is capable of running it as well as anyone.  We proved it last week, so remember that.

5. Take them seriously.  There's a temptation to go into the game with an "it's just Baylor" mentality.  Get that out of your heads this instant.  That's what lost us the Colorado game this year, the Oklahoma State game last year, and the New Mexico game in 2004.  Yes, we are probably the more talented team.  Yes, we will be favored.  No, we will not be able to get away with some half-hearted effort.  The Bears still have a capable team with their share of talent on the roster, with or without Shawn Bell.  I guarantee you that they will be more than happy to take full advantage of any opportunities that our team gives them with a sub-par effort.  Remember that every game is as important as any other.  Imagine the Baylor players are the officials from last week.  That should do it.

-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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