Offensive and defensive efficiency will be a big key to Saturday's game. While Texas Tech fans love the "big plays" that the Air Raid offense can, and usually does, generate, this weekend it will be more beneficial for Tech if the offense moves the ball in 5 and 6 yard chunks as opposed to 70 yard touchdowns.
Defensively, it is imperative that UT is not allowed to have long, time consuming drives. It is better for Tech that UT scores in 2 plays as the Raiders bring pressure instead of allowing long, time consuming drives.
It is also highly important that the defense is able to get itself off of the field on 3rd downs. However, this hinges on good play on 1st and 2nd downs.
Point #2: Patience
One of the things that gets a team into deep trouble is when they fall behind early and then start trying to force plays down the field. Tech hasn't been in the situation yet this year, but it has happened in the past.
Defensively, the same principle is true. During the Texas A&M game, Tech fell behind because the defense was spending to much time running themselves out of position instead of staying home to finish the play. While sacks and interceptions are "big plays" a sure-handed tackle on 3rd and 7 to prevent a first down is just as big a play, as long as players don't run out of position trying to force a play.
Point #3: Aggressive not Reckless
Perhaps this point seems to conflict with the previous one, but think about it in a different way. It is entirely possible to be aggressive (unexpected blitzes, different personnel, different coverage) without putting yourself out of position.
Point #4: Turnovers
It is obvious that the Red Raider offense works better when not turning the ball over, but it is of vital importance as they face an offense that is every bit as potent as their own.
McCoy, somewhat like Tom Brady/Peyton Manning, isn't the type of player that is ever completely "stopped," but with an aggressive pass-rush you can force players like that into unfavorable situations, much like the New York Giants did to Brady during last year's Super Bowl.
Point #5: Special Teams
It's no secret that the Red Raiders have struggled mightily with the kicking game this year, to the point that Matt Williams was added to the roster mid-season to kick extra points.
However, Tech has also had issues covering kickoffs at times. Donnie Carona continues to makes tackles on kickoffs, not something that the kicker should be doing with any regularity.
Granted, Carona is bigger and more physical than most kickers, but he can't stop everyone.
UT has had their own issues at times covering kickoffs, which could work in the Raiders favor if Michael Crabtree is back deep to return kicks.
Key Individual Match-ups:
Rylan Reed is lined up across from his opponents best pass-rusher week-in and week-out. This week is no different as he lines up across from Brian Orakpo, the Longhorns most recent in a long line of talented pass-rush specialists.
While Reed did an outstanding job against Chris Long in the Gator Bowl, Orakpo is a different animal. More of a speed-rusher, Reed will need to be on top of his game to protect Graham harrell's backside.
Now take the previous match-up and switch teams as Adam Ulatoski will line up across from the somewhat surprising Brandon Williams, who has 8 sacks in 9 names.
Williams was a hit-or-miss player last year but has become a very consistent pass-rusher and can wreak havoc in opposing teams backfield.
Ulatoski is a talented and strong left tackle but it remains to be seen how he will handle the speed that Williams can bring to the table.
Quan Cosby has developed into a big-play talent for UT and Tech will have to account for him all over the field. Much like the Raiders down with Michael Crabtree, Cosby will line up on the left, right, in the middle of a bunch/trips formation at the outside of the trips, or on the inside.
The idea being to create a favorable match-up against the Tech defense. Jamar Wall is capable of staying with Cosby but L.A. Reed/ Daniel Charbonnet (in Nickel/Dime packages) and Brent Nickerson aren't quite as suited to stop Cosby.
What Will Happen:
A game where both teams have everything to play for, it should be exciting from the first snap to the last.
Texas is forced to defend their number 1 ranking while the Red Raiders are able to avoid some of that pressure and, honestly, have much less to lose than the Longhorns.
While this game most likely won't be a blowout, to the chagrin of fans on both sides, it should easily be the best game in College Football so far this season.
Look for a hard-fought game from beginning to end that could come down to the wire.