Test young UTEP cornerbacks
The Miners finished the 2006 season ranked 106th in the country against the pass. On top of that, they are returning only 1 starter from that horrendous secondary in safety Quintin Demps.
Things have gotten worse for the Miners too. Starting cornerback Tim McCullouch fractured his leg and will not be playing this evening.
The Red Raiders need to go to the air early and often. Demps is a great safety and UTEP's best overall player, but Graham Harrell needs to attack the young secondary.
2. Prevent the big play
New Mexico kept UTEP in check for nearly the entire game last week, holding them to 195 yards for the game. They did have one breakdown in the 4th quarter though, when RB Terrell Jackson broke away for a 36 yard touchdown run.
Last week against SMU, the Red Raiders showed how Coach Setencich's bend but don't break defense is supposed to work. The Mustangs were able to move the ball between the 20's, but the defense clamped down in the redzone and prevented SMU from crossing the goal line.
The Texas Tech defense will need to step up to the challenge again and keep UTEP from making the big play.
3. Give Graham Time
When Graham Harrell has enough time, he will completely pick apart a defense. Center Shawn Byrnes was carted off the practice field this past week with a leg injury and is questionable headed into the UTEP game.
If Byrnes can't go or is only able to go on a limited basis, then sophomore Stephen Hamby will see significant playing time.
UTEP will provide a bigger test for the Tech offensive line than SMU did, and it will be another good measuring stick to see how good this inexperienced Red Raider line will be.