Keys to the Game

The Red Raiders will be squaring off against the Texas Longhorns at 2:30 pm Saturday. Texas (8-2), is coming off 2 come from behind victories over Nebraska and Oklahoma State, showing that no lead is safe. RaiderPower breaks down the matchup and tells you what Texas Tech must do to win the game.

1  

Hold Jamaal Charles in Check

After trailing big in their last 2 games against Nebraska and Oklahoma State, Jamaal Charles has almost single-handedly brought the Longhorns back in the 4th quarters, rushing for 219 yards and 3 TDs against Nebraska and 125 yards and 2 TDs against Oklahoma State.

Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach knows that the defense must contain the explosive running back if they are going to be able to pull out a win in Austin.

"[Charles is] really explosive. The biggest thing the last two weeks is he's had long runs. The numbers are high because he's had long runs. They were at key times, so he certainly deserves credit for that."

With the Longhorns' tremendous ability to bounce back late in games, the Red Raiders can't afford to have any defensive letdowns late in the game.
 

2

Get into an Offensive Rhythm

Whether they pass the ball or gain yards on the ground, the Red Raiders have been most successful on offense when they let plays develop and don't force things to happen. Although it's tempting to go for the big play in a pass-oriented offense, Graham Harrell must be disciplined enough to check into the correct play and take advantage of whatever UT's defense gives him. The Red Raiders cannot afford to commit turnovers and expect to have a chance to win in Austin.

Last week against Baylor, true freshman RB Aaron Crawford showed that he can be a major threat on the ground or gaining yards after the catch. With a bevy of talented WRs who are big play threats, long yardage plays will happen if the Red Raiders keep the Longhorn D honest by checking into run plays or short routes.

Mack Brown is aware that the Red Raider offense isn't as one dimensional as many mistakenly think. "Tech will hurt you with screens and draws. They aren't going to run it much, but unless you can stop their ‘rushing game,' they're really going to hurt you with both their passes and screens and draws. If you can make them throw it down field, then you have a chance, but if they can stay balanced against you, they are going to give you a fit."
 

3

Play for 60 minutes

After letting Texas come back last season from a 21-0 deficit to win the game 35-31, the Red Raiders still have a bitter taste in their mouths. 

Junior QB Graham Harrell explained, "Last year we got after them and played pretty well against them but still got beat. We can't really worry about that. We've just got to try to perform well again this year. Offensively, especially in the first half, we moved the ball and played well I thought. Hopefully we go down there and do that again and put lots of points on the board and try to get a win down there."

While no one doubts Tech's ability to put up gaudy numbers on offense, the missing element that seems to prevent the Red Raiders from winning big games is consistency. Turnovers and missed opportunities have plagued Tech in each of their three losses this season. Combine the Red Raiders' tendency to play inconsistently with the resiliency the Longhorns have shown this year, particularly in the late come-backs against OSU and Nebraska, and it seems that UT should be able to put this one in the books.

However, Texas Tech has the uncanny ability to win games when they play through mistakes and don't give up. If the Red Raiders can play well for 60 minutes, they should be able to pull off the upset in Austin. If they play in spurts, it's going to be extremely difficult to overcome the home field advantage and the talent of the Longhorns.

 


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