Texas A&M started the season 3-0 and had everything clicking. Big play WR Jeff Fuller was coming into his own and QB Jerrod Johnson showed accuracy that he didn’t have the last two seasons. Then add the dynamic running game of Cyrus Gray and Christine (pronounced like Kristen) Michael, and the Aggies were building something special. However, after a 3-0 start, the Aggies are now 3-3.
Texas Tech is coming from the other side of it. Tough losses to Texas and Houston had the Red Raiders at 3-2 and the fans a little restless. Since then, Texas Tech has rebounded nicely. Wins over New Mexico, Kansas State, and Nebraska have the Red Raiders sitting at 5-2.
For all the elation Texas Tech has after a statement road win at Nebraska, excitement in the A&M program is waning. It may seem strange, but that makes this Aggie team dangerous. Wolves are dangerous, but wounded wolves are much more unpredictable. The Aggies come to Lubbock as the wounded wolf.
Jerrod Johnson paces the Aggie passing attack and is 148-256 (58%) for 1,893 yards with 16 TDs and three INTs. Johnson likes to throw deep, but the porous Aggie offensive line hasn’t allowed for too much of it. So far this season, Johnson’s made good decisions and spread the ball around to several players.
Howard Morrow leads the receivers with 25 catches for 269 yards (11 YPC) and one score. Ryan Tannehill is next with 21 catches for 318 yards (15.1 YPC) and three scores. Jeff Fuller, the Aggies’ big play guy, has missed the last several games with a broken leg. Lucky for the Aggies, Uzoma Nwachukwu has more than made up for Fuller’s injury. His 21 catches for 445 yards (21 YPC) and six scores make him easily A&M’s best. Aside from Tannehill (whose father played at Tech) no other Aggie has more than one receiving TD.
Tailback would be the strength of the A&M offense if the Aggies had a decent offensive line. Most (I said most, not all) of A&M’s positive plays are due to the outstanding athleticism of RBs Michael and Gray. Michael has 285 yards on 59 carries (5 YPC) and two scores. Gray has 317 yards on 74 carries (4 YPC) and also two scores. QB Johnson has four rushing scores.
Texas Tech Passing
Taylor Potts leads the Red Raiders’ offense. He has completed 159-235 passes (68%) for 1,817 yards with 13 TDs and six INTs. After missing the last game and a half, Potts is likely eager to prove that he should be the lead signal caller at Texas Tech. An alleged undisclosed injury to Steven Sheffield will keep him off the field for the next few weeks. Sheffield’s injury likely averted a full-blown QB controversy for Mike Leach. Once Sheffield is back, even more attention than normal will be focused on Texas Tech’s QB.
Texas Tech Receiving
Detron Lewis now leads the Red Raiders in receptions. His four TDs on the year are third on the team behind Lyle Leong’s six and Tramain Swindall’s five. An astounding seven different Red Raider receivers average more than 10 yards per catch. Swindall’s 19 yards per catch paces the group.
The Red Raiders have quite a group of receivers who all have one score. In this group, Edward Britton has the most experience and speedy freshman Austin Zouzalik appears to have the brightest future. Zouzalik’s quickness and vision make him an ideal return man as well. Jacoby Franks has a flair for the dramatic as his 78 yard TD catch against Kansas State was the first receiving score of his career and a true thing of beauty.
Cornelius Douglas and Blake Kelley are the only Red Raider receivers who have caught a pass but have not scored.
Texas Tech Rushing
Baron Batch, Harrison Jeffers, and Eric Stephens combine to form quite a talented trio in Mike Leach’s backfield. Batch is the reliable workhorse, Stephens is the backup who rarely makes mistakes, and Harrison Jeffers is the game-breaker. Batch has 65 carries for 350 yards (5 YPC) and five scores. Stephens has 23 carries for 98 yards (4 YPC) but no scores. Jeffers has 28 touches for 199 yards (7 YPC) and four scores. Potts and Sheffield each add two rushing TDs.
· A&M leads the series with Texas Tech 34-32-1.
· Mike Leach ties Spike Dykes for the all-time win record at Texas Tech with his next win.
· A&M QB Jerrod Johnson set a Big 12 record for consecutive pass attempts without an INT. Johnson’s 225 pass attempt streak was broken as he threw three INTs against Kansas State last week.
· A&M’s Von Miller leads the nation in sacks with 10.
· Tech’s Brandon Sharpe is tied for fourth with eight.
What Will Happen
All the talk this week has been about the disparity in talent between A&M and Texas Tech. However, as fans of this rivalry, most should know that records and prior games have little impact on this game.
Expect a fired up A&M team to match the intensity of Texas Tech in the early going and hang with the Red Raiders for much of the game. Texas Tech’s superior offensive line play will eventually wear down the Aggies.
Texas Tech: 59