Texas Tech- Nebraska: Red Raiders Face Tough Cornhusker Defense

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Texas Tech- Nebraska: Red Raiders Face Tough Cornhusker Defense
(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Introduction

Nebraska and Texas Tech face off Saturday in a battle between teams with decidedly different identities. The ‘Huskers are showing signs of being the elite defensive unit that was the school’s hallmark during Tom Osborne’s illustrious tenure.

On the other side of the coin is Mike Leach’s well-oiled offensive machine.  The contrasting strengths of each team should make this a very interesting matchup.

 

Nebraska Passing

Nebraska QB Zac Lee directs the ‘huskers offensive attack. On the season Lee has completed 82-138 passes (59%) for 1,085 yards with 10 TDs and three INTs. Lee has also rushed 28 times for 68 yards.

Backup Cody Green has completed 12-17 passes (70%) for 98 yards with one TD and no INTs. Green appears to be a formidable threat to run the ball as he has accumulated 79 yards and two scores on six rushes.

 

Nebraska Rushing

Roy Helu paces the NU rushing attack with 91 carries for 552 yards (6 YPC) with six scores. Backup Rex Burkhead, a one-time Texas Tech target, has 23 rushes for 118 yards (5 YPC) with one score.

However, Burkhead will be unavailable for the Texas Tech game with an undisclosed foot injury. Aside from QBs Lee and Green, WR Niles Paul has one carry for 30 yards and a score. No other Nebraska tailback has more than three rushes and none of them have scored.

 

Nebraska Receiving

Niles Paul is Nebraska’s leading WR. He has 16 catches for 212 yards (13 YPC) with three trips to paydirt. Two of Paul’s scores came in last week’s rain-soaked contest at Missouri. TE Mike McNeill has 12 catches for 146 yards (12 YPC) with three scores as well.

RB Helu adds 11 catches for 91 yards (8 YPC) with no scores. Menelik Holt has 11 catches for 124 yards (11 YPC) and one TD. Holt’s backup, Curenski Gilleyan, has been a big-play guy with 11 grabs for 269 yards (24.5 YPC) with one score. WR Chris Brooks, RB Burkhead, and Tyler Legate each add one TD to finish Nebraska’s scoring.

 

Texas Tech Passing

Taylor Potts leads the Red Raiders’ passing attack with 159 completions out of 235 attempts (68%) for 1,817 yards with 13 TDs and six INTs.  Steven Sheffield is 53-70 (76%) for 780 yards with 11 TDs and two INTs.

Much attention will be focused on the Texas Tech QB duo as head coach Mike Leach announced earlier this week that his starting QB will be a game-time decision.

Potts is coming off an alleged concussion that occurred during the first half of the Red Raiders’ game against New Mexico on Oct. 3. Potts did not play in the second half of that contest and also sat out last week’s game against Kansas State.

 

Texas Tech Rushing

Baron Batch leads the Red Raiders’ with 53 carries for 312 yards (6 YPC) with five scores. If Batch is Tech’s Slash, Redshirt freshman Harrison Jeffers is the Red Raiders’ Dash. Jeffers has amazing speed.

He has 26 carries for 180 yards (7 YPC) with 4 TDs. His numbers are pretty great considering that he did not play in Tech’s game against Texas. The future is very bright for Jeffers.

True Freshman Eric Stephens has the only other significant rushing stats. Stephens adds 23 rushes for 98 yards (4 YPC). He is also very dangerous as a kickoff return man.

Were it not for a penalty that occurred well away from the action, Stephens would have a return TD to his credit this season.  QB Potts also adds two rushing scores from goal-line situations.

 

Texas Tech Receiving

The Texas Tech receiving corps is starting to develop some good rapport with Red Raider QBs. This is great news for the coaching staff and terrible for future opponents. Sure-handed redshirt freshman Alex Torres paces the bunch with 31 grabs for 31 grabs for 335 yards (11 YPC) and three scores.

Detron Lewis is next with 30 catches for 385 yards (13 YPC) and four TDs. Lyle Leong adds 24 catches for 328 yards (14 YPC) and leads the team in receiving scores with six. Tramain Swindall has been the big-play receiver so far this season. The sophomore has 24 catches for 464 yards (19 YPC) and five scores.

Senior Edward Britton has 20 receptions for 218 yards (11 YPC) with one score. What Britton lacks in production this year he more than makes up for it by being a tenacious downfield blocker. Britton has excelled in blocking since arriving at Texas Tech and his efforts are pivotal in long gains that other receivers produce.

Austin Zouzalik, Jacoby Franks, Adam James,  and Brik Brinker combine with RBs Batch, Jeffers, and Stephens for 85 receptions, 906 yards (11 YPC) with one score each.

 

Noteworthy

·Texas Tech is looking to extend its series best three-game win streak against the Cornhuskers.

·Texas Tech will extend a tough streak Saturday. The Raiders’ previous five road contests have been against ranked foes. Nebraska will make it six in a row for Mike Leach’s team.

·Nebraska leads the all-time series between the schools 7-3, but Tech has won three straight.

·Mike Leach is only three wins away from breaking Spike Dykes’ all-time wins record at Texas Tech

·Tech’s defense leads the Big 12 and is 17th nationally with 45 tackles for loss.

 

What will happen

Texas Tech faces an immense challenge in Nebraska’s defensive line. Ndamukong Suh (pronounced Sue) is one of the nation’s premier defensive players and is the best defensive lineman in college football. Because of his talent, I expect the Red Raiders to start slowly.

However, Nebraska’s offense isn’t exactly setting the world on fire so the Red Raiders won’t be too far behind even if a slow start occurs. Nebraska’s ball control rushing attack will eat large chunks of time but that shouldn’t keep the Red Raiders from scoring.

 

Prediction

Nebraska is not quite back to its glory years:

Texas Tech:  45

Nebraska: 35

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