There’s an old axiom that goes something like this: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If the saying is true, Texas Tech ought to feel pretty good about its football program. Long-time Leach understudy Dana Holgorsen is Houston’s offensive coordinator and a real up-and-coming coach in his own right.
Coach Holgorsen spent eight seasons at Texas Tech and prior to that, also worked with Leach at Valdosta State after playing for Leach at Iowa Wesleyan.
In addition to Coach Holgorsen, Houston has former Texas Tech great Kliff Kingsbury on staff. Kingsbury serves as Quality Control for the Cougars offense.
The other sub-plot to Saturday’s showdown is the QB that each team features. Houston’s Case Keenum is a graduate of Abilene’s Wylie High School while Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts is a graduate of Abilene High.
Jr. QB Case Keenum leads Houston’s dynamic attack. He has completed 55-76 passes (72%) for 725 with seven TDs and one INT. He’s also shown some toughness in the redzone with seven carries for 16 yards and two scores. Backup Cotton Turner is 9-14 for 88 yards with one TD and no INTs.
The Cougars’ ground game is paced by so-dynamo Bryce Beall. He was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2008 and also the MVP of the Bell Hellicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
This season, Beall has tallied 27 rushes for 136 yards (five yards per carry) with two TDs. Equally dangerous as a receiver, Beall adds seven catches for 95 yards (14 YPC) and two more trips to paydirt.
Aside from Beall and QB Keenum’s rushing numbers, Charles Sims is the only other back with a score from the ground game this season. But, Houston will get creative on offense and get the ball in the hands of playmakers like WR A.J. Dugat, who has a 15 yard run to his credit.
Patrick Edwards leads the Cougars receivers with 11 grabs for 121 yards and a score. RB Sims adds another 11 catches for 174 yards (16 YPC) with one TD. Tyron Carrier has 10 receptions for 135 yards and a score. Chaz Rodriguez, L.J. Castille, and Ronnie Williams each have one TD to finish Houston’s scoring.
Texas Tech Passing
After last week’s gutsy performance in Austin, Taylor Potts is eager to continue proving his doubters wrong. The Junior gunslinger calmly led his team in a hostile environment against a Texas team that was supposed to be the No. 2 team in the country.
Now the Red Raiders have another chance to face a road crowd in a sold out Robertson Stadium. For the year, Potts has completed 115-167 passes (70%) for 1,281 yards with 12 TDs and four INTs. Potts has also added two scores on the ground. Backup QB Steven Sheffield is 4-6 for 52 yards with one score and no INTs.
Texas Tech Rushing
After running the ball for minus six yards last week, it’s safe to say that Texas Tech’s ground game hasn’t gotten off to a blistering start to the 2009 season. However, RBs Baron Batch, Harrison Jeffers, and Eric Stephens are all legitimate Big 12 backs with game changing ability.
Batch leads the group with 17 carries for 65 yards (4 YPC) and one score while true freshman Eric Stephens has chipped in 13 touches for 44 yards (3.5 YPC) with no scores.
RS Fr. speedster Harrison Jeffers adds seven rushes for 39 yards (5.5 YPC) and no scores. This talented triumvirate will contribute heavily in multiple games this season, that much, Tech fans can count on.
Texas Tech Receiving
Lyle Leong, Potts’ Abilene High teammate, leads the Red Raider receivers with 19 catches for 252 yards (13 YPC) with five scores. Sr. Ed Britton has 16 catches for 144 yards (9 YPC) and one TD.
Redshirt Fr. Alexander Torres walked on to the football team and impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a starting spot in the position formerly occupied by Tech All-American Michael Crabtree.
Recently, Torres was placed on scholarship for his efforts. Torres has 16 catches for 150 yards (9 YPC) but no scores. Detron Lewis has 15 grabs for 191 yards (13 YPC) and one TD. So. Tramain Swindall has recorded 11 catches for 190 yards (17 YPC), despite not playing in the opener against North Dakota.
Redshirt Fr. Austin Zouzalik has 11 catches for 142 yards (13 YPC) and one score. Due to his effectiveness against Texas, Zouzalik has earned the starting nod this week from the coaching staff and will also continue his duties as the primary punt returner for the Red Raiders.
Zouzalik’s career has gotten off to a fast start and much is expected from this talented former high school QB. Adam James and RB Stephens each have one receiving TD to finish Texas Tech’s scoring.
What Will Happen
This game has the makings of four hour offensive explosion. Both teams have assembled rosters chock full of legendary Texas high school football athletes. Combine that with the play calling acumen that both Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen possess and fans could be on the edge of their seats all evening. Set this one to record, folks. It's going to be a barn burner.
Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin is a former offensive coordinator at OU. Sumlin joins Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, and Chuck Long as Sooners offensive coordinators who have gone on to become head coaches.
Former SMU great Craig James, the father of Tech receiver Adam James, will call Saturday’s game with play-by-play man Mike Patrick for ESPN2.
The Red Raiders return to the friendly confines of Jones AT&T Stadium next Saturday to take on the New Mexico Lobos. That game is scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m.
Texas Tech: 52