1. Can we play like the season isn't over? Although much of the fanbase seems to want to call it quits already, I pray that our team realizes what is on the line with this last regular-season game. There is a chance we can still finish third in the Big 12 South above A&M if we win this game. This would help our bowl selection quite a bit. We can also keep up our streak of winning seasons since 1995, which is by far the longest of the Big 12 teams. Also, the Seniors deserve to have one last good game at home, and it's been a great ride with them regardless of what happens now. Furthermore, if we finish strong and perhaps go 8-5 for the year, we will have laid the foundation for next season by finishing with a respectable record. The season's not over or lost unless we play like it is, so let's go get one more win.
2. Can we play without Hicks if we have to? It's no secret that the offense with and without Hicks has been two different beasts. In fact, I almost feel that the only reason that we lost the TCU game was because we were without Hicks. I don't know if Graham needs to go have an ice cream cone with L.A. Reed and Todd Walker or what, but something needs to happen to increase their connection so he can start giving them some throws at X if they are lined up there instead of Jarrett. They are talented receivers, and I wish that Graham would put the same trust in them as he does Hicks. This has been my only major criticism of Graham throughout the year. Also, this is going to be key for our future, as either Reed or Walker will be next year's starter at X. Graham and Walker/Reed must get on the same page.
3. Can we play football in the second half? Seriously, this is a major problem. We lost the games against OU and Texas because of we squandered our halftime leads through weaker play on both sides of the ball. I don't know if this is due to a conditioning problem, a motivation issue following complacency with a lead, or a failure to make the necessary adjustments. If I had to guess, I'd say it's a combination of a bit of all three. The one thing that I am sure of is that this issue definitely needs to be addressed. We were a second-half team last year, and that seemed to work out much better. Ideally, I'd like for us to be a both-halves team, but this first half stuff is killing me. I'm not sure that I can handle another lead that gets squandered. We didn't let up on Baylor. I propose we try that again. It worked.
4. Can our secondary minimize the big plays? OU and Texas beat us on long bomb passes. I don't know how much clearer that I can say it other than that the defensive backs' first objective should be to not let their man get behind the coverage. I've given the unit some leniency for their inexperience. They aren't inexperienced anymore. It's time to absolutely shut down the passing game of an opponent again. Know your assignments, and communicate more with the other DBs. Furthermore, work on the switching with the linebackers. If they're going to play in no man's land, the least we can do is utilize their proximity to the defensive backs. Oh, and one more thing. The seven-yard cushion is killing us. Our guys have to wait up for the WRs and then try and catch up to a guy who is already at full speed.
5. Can we remember what happened last year? The OSU debacle from last season cost us a shot at a BCS bowl. We lost to them because we didn't give them enough credit. Don't make the same mistake again. They have plenty of talent this season, perhaps the most that they have had since the Rashaun Woods days. This won't be an easy win. I don't care if they haven't beat us in Lubbock since World War II; that doesn't mean that it can't happen this year. Win this one for originality. Win this one for the Masked Rider, Raider Red, the guns up, our academic calendar, and, of course, for RaiderPower. Most importantly, win this one for the fans that love to experience Texas Tech football at the magic of Jones Stadium, and win it for your fellow teammates that have fought beside you all year long.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at email@example.com.)