Red Raiders Looking Forward to Houston

After a tough loss to the #2-ranked Longhorns, the Red Raiders have their sights set on the Houston Cougars, who are currently ranked #17 in the polls after upsetting the Oklahoma State 2 weeks ago in Stillwater. While the sting of the season's first loss hasn't worn off yet, Texas Tech is determined to get a W in Houston, a task that won't be easy considering the Cougars' high-powered offense.

The Red Raiders' first two games were tune-ups for a very tough road ahead, but the players and coaches aren't shrinking away from the challenge. After easily defeating North Dakota and Rice, Texas Tech had a good showing but lost their first conference game to UT in Austin. This week, they face the #17 Houston Cougars, a team who already surprised one Big 12 team this year. The Red Raiders are intent on not letting it happen again.

Head Coach Mike Leach explains that beating Houston is their main focus and will take a collective effort from the entire team.

"The biggest thing is [Houston's] level of play, that they're just a really good team and opponent. We really respect how they play and what they've done. We've got to go out and play well, we have to get a week better this week and go play well."

The Cougars, whose offense is headed up by former Red Raider offensive coordinator Dana Hologerson, have seen success running a spread offense very similar to Texas Tech's, which should make for an interesting match-up on Saturday. So far this year they are averaging 525 yards and 50 points per game under star quarterback Case Keenum, who finished second nationally in total passing yards behind Graham Harrell in 2008.

Running similar offensive schemes isn't something that Coach Leach is too worried about, primarily because he feels that because both teams know so much about each other, any advantage either side might gain will be offset.

"[There are] a lot of similarities, they spread it out and do a good job getting it to a lot of people, and I think their offense is very key to what they do. [Defensively], they know as much about our stuff as much as we do about theirs' so I think it's all pretty equal."

DB Brent Nickerson echoed Leach's sentiments, explaining, "Well the challenges as far as them with Coach Holgorsen being there, they know a lot of what our defense does. They know a lot of our checks and what we like to do as far as secondary, as far as our blitzes and far as D line, but we have great play calling on defense as well so we will know how to counter their attack."

For the Red Raiders to get a victory, one area that will need to see quick improvement is the play of the offensive line, which allowed 3 sacks for 55 yards and 1 lost fumble in the game against Texas. The line also struggled with penalties, getting flagged for multiple false starts in the loss.

Senior left tackle Brandon Carter was disappointed with his units performance but says that quarterback Taylor Potts' display of fortitude and resilience after taking a bone-shattering hit from Sergio Kindle was extraordinary.

"It was unfortunate that he got hot in the first place. Of course it's going to be upsetting for our offensive line. Just because we take so much pride in not getting the quarterback hit. It was exciting seeing him get up after that hit and just move on like nothing happened. Not many quarterbacks are able to do that. I think the offensive line, as well as the whole team, was really excited about that. We are seeing a great player come out of his shell and we are excited to have him on our side."

Carter, who is the anchor for the O-line, said the main struggles on Saturday were due to a lack of confidence from some of the younger, less experienced linemen, including Mickey Okafor and Lonnie Edwards.

"When you first start out in college football it's kind of hard in a mental aspect. I think that is the problem right now. I think they are both great players and I think they can both make great plays around here and they are both going to be great players around here. As of right now I think they are struggling with believing in themselves. Once they both have that confidence that they can beat anybody, like we all know they can, we will be ok."

One thing is certain- the Red Raiders will be ready to play on Saturday and get back over to the win column. Carter says that having to face a ranked opponent on the road for the second week in a row in the last thing Texas Tech is thinking about; they are just ready to get on the field and play.

"I don't think our team really pays a lot of attention on who is ranked. Its 60 guys against 60 guys, their fans aren't going to be on the field playing so they don't really have an advantage over us just like we don't have an advantage over them. We are going to play like we do out here in our own stadium."



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