Defensive Preview: Texas Tech vs. Nevada

After winning their season opener against Eastern Washington last Saturday, the Red Raiders are headed to Reno to face off against the Wolf Pack of Nevada. While Nevada will no doubt be focused on slowing down Texas Tech's passing attack, the Red Raider defense will need to shut down the Wolf Pack's rushing game to come out with a W.

After allowing 364 total yards of offense in what many felt was a lackluster performance against EWU, the Red Raider defense is determined to prove naysayers wrong by shutting down Nevada on Saturday night.

This will be no easy task, as Nevada led their conference in rushing yards last season and rushed for 426 yards last week in their season opener against Grambling State.

Texas Tech must slow down senior RB Luke Lippincott, who rushed for 1,420 yards last year, as well as key in on sophomore back Vai Taua, who exploded last Saturday for 103 yards.

The good news for the Red Raiders is that their run defense last week looked very good, as they held the Eagles to only 23 rushing yards in the entire game. If they can repeat last week's performance against the run and contain dual-threat QB Colin Kaepernick, Texas Tech should have the game pretty well sewn up.

Containing Kaepernick will definitely be a challenge for the Red Raiders, as Head Coach Mike Leach stated that he "might be the best quarterback we face all year." At 6'6", 215 pounds, he has the ability to gain yards on the ground or though the air. Last season he threw for 2,174 yards and ran for 593 and accounted for 25 total touchdowns.

Much of the battle will be fought by the Red Raiders' defensive linemen, who will face a veteran O-line with 4 returning starters.

Senior DE Jake Ratliff was adamant that they are not taking preparations for the game against Nevada lightly.

"They aren't scared on anybody," Ratliff said. "They're going to take their chances running the ball. They have a good quarterback and they are a tough running team."

After months of talk about the newly improved Red Raider defense, Saturday night's game may be Texas Tech's best chance to prove their mettle.

Keys to Success:

1. Limit 1st down yards
Nevada makes a living off of running the ball down your throat, which will make 1st down extremely important in slowing down the Wolf Pack. Texas Tech needs to keep first down yardage to a minimum, forcing Nevada into 2nd and longs and 3rd and longs. Nevada's strength is not their passing game, but these long yardage situations will force them to.

2. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
The only way Nevada can beat this Texas Tech team is to win the turnover battle. If the Red Raider defense can force at least 2 turnovers, Tech will more than likely win the turnover battle. For you mathematically inclined fans, here's the key to victory in formula format:
Tech turnovers < Nevada turnovers =Tech Win

3. Sideline Speed
With such a deep and talented defensive line, Nevada will need to gain yards by running outside the tackles. Outside linebackers Marlon Williams and Bront Bird will be relied upon heavily to ensure that these yards are limited.

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