The Minutemen are a team that can both run and throw the ball with success. Quarterback Liam Coen has thrown 9 touchdowns and only 1 interception to go along with his 826 yards passing.
Coen's favorite target is the 6 foot tall red-shirt junior Victor Cruz who averages a whopping 19.5 yards per reception and has accumulated 351 yards passing through three games, though he only has two touchdowns.
Tony Nelson, UMass' starting tailback, is a 5 foot 10 inch tall 210 pound red-shirt junior whose rushed for 369 yards so far this season. He's averaging a whopping 120.7 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry to go along with five touchdowns.
Other offensive players to keep an eye on are Jeremy Horne and Julian Talley. Neither receiver has the numbers that Cruz has put up they've got over 300 yards and three touchdowns between the two of them.
What Texsa Tech does to counter: The Red Raiders will probably spend more time in their base 4-3 defensive alignment this week than they have in the last three games, primarily because UMass typically lines up in an I formation, though this isn't to say that they won't throw the football.
Look for another big week from the linebackers, particularly Brian Duncan and Bront Bird, as they will have the opportunity to run downhill at UMass and their inside the tackle runs as well as pursue on sweep plays.
Daniel Charbonnet could also have a big game as he will have the chance to come up and play as an undersized linebacker, should that be called for.
When the Red Raiders have the ball:
The Raiders will need to keep an eye on Michael Hanson, the left defensive end, and also on Darnel DeLaire. Between the two of them they have four tackles for loss, though only DeLaire has a sack.
Courtney Robinson and Sean Smalls should both be seriously challenged as they line up across from either Michael Crabtree or Edward Britton while the linebacking corps of Resende-Gomez, Rouzier, and Byrd should find themselves significantly challenged to stop not only the Raiders expected passing attack but also help stop the surging run-game spearheaded by Baron Batch and Shannon Woods.
Graham Harrell will have the opportunity to make a run at BJ Symons record for touchdown passes in this game, especially since UMass' defense isn't what it has been in the last few season.
The offensive line should have no trouble coping with the Minutemen's defensive line, though UMass might employ some creative blitzes in this game to get real game reps so they're more comfortable using them later in the season.
What Will Happen :
A game that won't be close from the start, the Air Raid offense will take off as Harrell throws for more then 300 yards in the first half and is lucky to take a snap after halftime. Taylor Potts will have a chance to work with the second team and record some valuable game experience.
Defensively, it will be another banner night for the revamped Swarm defense as they should be able to handle the UMass offense. It should also give the cornerback LA Reed the chance to get more game experience before the week off and then Big XII play. Also, look for red-shirt freshman defensive tackles Chris Perry and David Neill to see the field as the game winds down and gain valuable experience for a time when they may be called upon down the road.
Head Coach Mike Leach will find something to be unhappy about, though Tech should look extremely sharp in the last non-conference game heading into Big XII plays in a little less than two weeks.