After sailing through their first two games of the season, the Red Raiders have faced some adversity as of late. Two weeks ago, they surprised many pundits when they kept the game competitive with the second-ranked Longhorns but ultimately lost by 10 in Austin. The next week, they were on the road again to face the #17 Houston Cougars who were coming off a big win against then #5 Oklahoma State.
Despite leading for nearly the entire fourth quarter, the Red Raiders failed to convert on a fourth and goal on the 1 yard line and then allowed the Cougars into the end zone with only 49 seconds left on the clock, resulting in a disappointing 1 point loss.
After the game, rumblings of discontent and poor decision making started to bubble, and by Sunday evening, senior defensive leader Marlon Williams was had publicly stated his frustration with head coach Mike Leach and team captain and star offensive lineman Brandon Carter had been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.
Coach Leach announced during his press conference on Monday that all players were banned from using the popular social networking site Twitter, setting off a minor media frenzy.
With all of the distractions the Red Raiders are facing off the field, the question becomes how do they pull things together and get a desperately needed win against New Mexico, a team that has seen their own share of public problems as of late.
The Lobos, who are 0-4 on the season, are struggling both on and off the field and are currently 118th in total offense. First year head coach Mike Locksley is embroiled in a public scandal and will likely face suspension or firing after allegedly hitting wide receivers coach J.B. Gerald during a staff meeting.
The New Mexico Lobos:
Despite their obvious problems, New Mexico comes to Lubbock with nothing to lose. The Red Raiders are 36 point favorites but are no-doubt distracted by all of the off-the-field controversy taking place around them- two things that could spell disaster if they are not careful.
To ensure what should be an easy win against the Lobos, the Red Raiders must band together and put their problems behind them. They have the talent and athleticism to crush the Lobos, who are struggling under senior quarterback Donovan Porterie.
After a season-ending injury last season, Porterie's first three games in 2009 have been disastrous. He has thrown 3 interceptions and only 1 touchdown pass on the year. Redshirt FreshmanWR Ty Kirk has been Porterie's best target so far and is averaging 11.7 yards per reception.
New Mexico's rushing game has not been much better, and they are averaging 103 yards and less than 1 touchdown per game. The Lobos' biggest threat on offense comes from sophomore running back James Wright, who is averaging almost 20 yards per carry and has 2 touchdowns this season.
The Lobos have struggled defensively as well. They currently sit at 107th in the country in total defense. The lone bright spot for New Mexico has come from their defensive line, who have recorded 28 tackles for a loss, the most of any school in the Mountain West conference.
Sophomore defensive end Jaymar Latchison is the lead pass rusher on the team and has 2.5 sacks on the season. LB Carmen Messina has been the most successful Lobo on the defensive side of the ball and is averaging 14.5 tackles per game.
The Bottom Line:
The Red Raiders should win this game handily if they can put the past week's distractions behind them and play the kind of football they are capable of playing. New Mexico does not have the talent to beat the Red Raiders; the only way that Texas Tech loses is if they beat themselves.