The Red Raiders bounced back last week with a resounding 75-7 win over Northwestern State at Jones AT&T Stadium. This week, the Iowa State Cyclones will be in town to provide a tougher test for the new defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill. RaiderPower breaks down both sides of the ball to see where each team has an advantage.
The Red Raider's signal
caller Graham Harrell has been phenomenal this year, amassing 2301 yards
and 24 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Harrell also boasts an
outstanding 71.9% completion rate, which is even more impressive when
you take his 267 pass attempts into consideration.
Senior QB Bret Meyer, who is a four year starter for Iowa State, has had
a disappointing season so far with only four TDs and eight interceptions
in five games. He has been more effective on the ground, rushing for 195
yards and 1 td. The Red Raider D will need to keep an eye on the mobile
QB to ensure that he doesn't break loose for any big gains.
head coach Gene Chizik has emphasized the role turnovers have played in
their 4 losses. "I think that one word can really describe every loss –
turnovers. They play a huge role in why we're 1-4. I've said it since
the beginning: I think the game is real simple - you get turnovers and
you don't give the ball up and you've got a chance to win." Meyer will
have to improve on his TD to turnover ratio for Iowa State to have a
chance to keep it close.
The Red Raider RBs Shannon Woods and Kobey Lewis continue to share reps
and are playing solid, but because of opposing defenses' inability to
cover the pass, neither one has huge numbers on the ground. True
freshman Aaron Crawford also got in the game last week, and impressed
Coach Leach, who hinted that he'll be seeing more playing time if he
continues doing well in practice.
Expect to see more of Jason Scales, who was relegated to 2nd
string after Jamicah Bass transferred in from JUCO, but stepped up last
week after Bass had to be pulled due to a shoulder injury. Scales scored
both Cyclone TDs and rushed for 115 yards on 31 carries in the loss to
Nebraska. Bass' status is questionable this week, but after the way
Oklahoma State's Dantrell Savage ran the ball down Tech's throats after
coming back from an injury, the Red Raiders need to be prepared in case
Bass is cleared to play.
Tech's WR corps is also playing well, and while fans can't seem to get
enough of freshmen phenom Michael Crabtree, the Red Raiders showed just
how loaded they are at the receiving position last Saturday. Freshmen
Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis both saw significant playing time and made
the most of it, with Lewis scoring on both of his receptions and Leong
adding another TD.
QB Graham Harrell had the following to say about the two talented
receivers. "I thought they did really, really well. Lyle [Leong] is a
great player… He goes and gets the ball, he has probably better hands
than anyone on the team, honestly, and he doesn't ever drop balls.
Detron [Lewis],being a true freshman and going in there and getting two
touchdowns, that was impressive as well. I think the young guys are good
and I'm glad they're on our team because it looks good for the next
couple of years. It's good to know they're ready to play and they're
going to be a special unit as well."
While the Cyclones' receivers haven't put up the gaudy numbers Texas
Tech has, they have the ability to play well when they get on a roll. At
6'5", 209 lbs., senior Todd Blythe is a solid receiver who has the
ability to punish defenders if they give him too much cushion. R.J. Sumrall, who also runs track for the Cyclones, is one of the fastest
players on the team and has 28 receptions on the year, although he has
yet to find the end zone.
Tech's young O-line has continued to block well, as they have only given
up three sacks in five games and have given Harrell plenty of time to go
through his reads. After an injury in last week's game, right guard
Brandon Carter has been practicing all week and is expected to play
Saturday. Marlon Winn will be taking over the starting job at right
tackle, a position formerly occupied by Jake Johnson.
Iowa State O-line is also young and not very deep, but they have played
relatively well so far this season. They've given up five sacks on the
year and have done a good job with rush blocking up to this point.
Offensive line coach Robert McFarland stated that his unit has played
well so far and explained, "Only one [sack]
has been because of a missed assignment. The others have been where
somebody got beat, or we didn't execute what we were supposed to have
defensive lines are world beaters, but Texas Tech has been able to
consistently pressure quarterbacks this season. The Red Raiders have
tallied up 12 sacks in just 5 games this season, which is a big
improvement over previous years. Sophomore defensive end Brandon Williams had a break out game last week, racking up 1.5 sacks and 2.5
tackles for a loss.
The star of the Iowa State defensive line is junior Kurtis Taylor, who
leads them in sacks and is 3rd on the team for QB hurries.
Taylor is the only big threat on the Cyclone defensive line, so if the
young Tech offensive line can keep him check, it will be a step in the
where Iowa State really shines, especially with senior Alvin Bowen.
Bowen is built more like a safety than a linebacker at 6'2 and 218
pounds, but he is extremely fast and a phenomenal hitter. Last season
he led the entire NCAA in tackles per game and he is playing just as
well this year. Opposite Bowen is outside linebacker Jon Banks, who is
also very quick and able to penetrate into the backfield.
The Texas Tech linebacking corps looked much improved last Saturday, but
it is hard to tell if it is a result of new defensive coordinator Ruffin
McNeill, or the lack of talent on the Northwestern State sideline. They
will receive a solid test from the Cyclones, who run a balanced offense
that will test them on the ground and through the air.
State will provide the first real test for Mike Leach's air raid offense
with their versatile linebackers and solid secondary. The Cyclones are
4th in the Big 12 in passing defense, allowing only 179 yards
per game through the air. Junior defensive back Chris Singleton has
been all over the field, picking off a pair of passes and showing that
he is one of Iowa State's better tacklers.
Similar to the linebackers, the Texas Tech secondary played a great game
against Northwestern State, but they weren't facing a very stiff
challenge. They held the Demons to only 103 yards, which is very good
no matter whom you are facing. Iowa State will be a bigger test,
especially with big wide receiver Todd Blythe who has been terrorizing
defenses since he set foot in Ames.