Texas Tech faces former Southwest Conference rival SMU at 6 p.m. CT Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. The game will be televised on a regional basis on FSN. The game also can be heard live on Sports Radio 1340 in Lubbock and any one of 48 affiliates on the Texas Tech Sports Network. Fans also can listen on Sirius 122 or at www.texastech.com.
SCOUTING THE MUSTANGS
SMU is in its first season with head coach June Jones, the coach that transformed the Hawaii program into a BCS participant last season. The Mustangs are 1-1 following last weekend's 47-36 win over Texas State in Dallas. The Mustangs are averaging 37.0 points per game, but allowing 46.0 points. The passing game has been the strong point this season as SMU is averaging 348.0 yards through the air, a bulk of the team's 384.0 yards of total offense. The Mustangs have scored 10 touchdowns and have been hot out of the chute, scoring 27 points in the first quarter of the two games combined. They also have shown a penchant for finishing strong with 21 points in the fourth. Bo Levi Mitchell leads the passing game with 307.0 yards per game. He has thrown for eight touchdowns to three interceptions. Emmanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson are the leading receivers with 16 and 15 receptions, respectively, and four touchdowns each. Both are averaging right at 130.0 yards per game. Defensively, Pete Fleps has 21 tackles, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups to lead the unit.
THE "ELF" TAKES ONE TO THE HOUSE
Senior Eric Morris became the first Red Raider to run a punt back for a touchdown since Danny Amendola did so against Kansas State in 2004 (90-yard return by Amendola). Morris' punt return covered 86 yards and is the fifth longest in school history. It was his first career punt return for a touchdown and the 25th by the Red Raiders since 1951. The return gave Texas Tech a 7-3 lead at the eight-minute mark of the first quarter. He also gave the Red Raiders a 20-12 lead with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter when he scored on a 13-yard rush. The rushing touchdown was the first of his career.
SIZING UP THE "ELF"
While diminutive in size, receiver Eric Morris is one of the most deceptive players in the Big 12 Conference, if not college football. The 5-foot-8, 172-pound, slot back exploded for 164 yards on nine catches in the season opener against Eastern Washington and finished with 189 all-purpose yards after tallying 21 punt return yards. Last season he caught 75 passes for 767 yards and was second among the receiving corps with nine touchdown receptions. Tech coach Mike Leach, the one responsible for Morris' alter ego, has even installed the "Elf" package in this year's offense to better utilize the receiver's talents.
SPECIAL TEAMS COMING UP BIG IN `08
Texas Tech's special teams have already made an impact on the season with big plays coming in each of the first two games. At Nevada last weekend, Lance Fuller came off of the right end to block a UNR punt, the second block of the season for the Red Raiders (Taylor Charbonnet blocked an Eastern Washington field goal in the opener). The return teams have done well, too, as Eric Morris returned a punt 86 yards for a score at Nevada. Daniel Charbonnet fell on a UNR onside kick attempt that set up a Tech score, putting the Red Raiders ahead 21-12.
BIRD BEGINNING TO DOMINATE ON THE OUTSIDE
LB Bront Bird is becoming a force to reckon with at outside linebacker. The sophomore posted a career-high 14 tackles in the win at Nevada, including 12 solo stops. Additionally, he tallied a sack in the game. In the opener against Eastern Washington, Bird has 19 tackles on the season.
OLD SHANNON RE-EMERGING
This is the Shannon Woods we all know. The Shannon Woods that went for 109 yards and three TDs on 19 carries against Minnesota in the Insight Bowl in 2006. Woods has four touchdowns on the season, two in each game thus far. He also has 20 rushes for 82 yards. His career touchdown total is 25, which ranks 10th all-time at Texas Tech. after rolling up 10 scores on the ground in 2006, Woods cooled off a little last season with eight.
DEFENSE COMES UP BIG IN THE REDZONE
Chants of "DEFENSE-DEFENSE" resonated from the modest gathering of Tech fans following the win over Nevada in Reno. And, deservedly so. The unit found itself up against a wall as the Wolf Pack entered the red zone five times during the game. However, the group didn't yield, holding UNR to three field goals in the five trips. Additionally, the D gave UNR's quarterback fits all evening, sacking him four times. A bulk of Nevada's 488 yards of total offense came between the 20s.
DEFLECTIONS AND PICKS AT THE LINE
Texas Tech has five interceptions on the season, including two by defensive linemen. DT Ra'Jon Henley grabbed one against Eastern Washington, while NT Richard Jones took one off of a deflection at Nevada. The front four also has accounted for three pass breakups - one by NT Colby Whitlock against EWU and two by DE Brandon Williams at Nevada.
LIVING IN A BIZARRO WORLD?
If you do a double-take when looking at the stats, don't worry, they're correct. Texas Tech has scored eight touchdowns on the ground, compared to three through the air in two games this season. The Red Raiders exploded for five ground scores in the season opener and another three at Nevada. This should please the proponents of the "balanced" offense.
PASS TDs to RUSH TDs (Last Six Seasons)
2008 - 3-to-8
2007 - 51-to-18
2006 - 39-to-13
2005 - 34-to-25
2004 - 43-to-23
2003 - 53-to-20
TEXAS TECH 12th IN BOTH POLLS
Texas Tech remained at No. 12 in the latest Associated Press poll. Associated Press Poll Notes uThe current ranking is the highest in the poll for Texas Tech since a No. 8 showing in 1977 uTexas Tech has appeared in nine final AP polls throughout the program's 83-year history uTexas Tech set a school record of 22-straight weeks in the AP top 25 from 2004-06; the previous high was 20 weeks during the 1976-77 seasons uThe Red Raiders spent three-straight weeks at No. 5 in 1976, Tech's highest-ever ranking uThe Red Raiders spent eight weeks in the top 10 in 1976 uThe most recent high ranking for Texas Tech was No. 10 in 2005 (Oct. 16) uTexas Tech is currently in a five-year streak of being ranked in the AP poll, the longest streak in school history
TEXAS TECH CLIMBS A SPOT IN THE COACHES POLL
A panel of FBS coaches voted the Red Raiders No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week, following Texas Tech's win at Nevada. The ranking is the highest in the poll since a No. 8 ranking in 2005 (Oct. 16).
Since the start of the 2003 season, Texas Tech boasts a 27-5 record at Jones AT&T Stadium. The .844 winning percentage is tied 11th with West Virginia during that stretch. Only Oklahoma (1st/.969) and Texas (8th/.871) have higher percentages among Big 12 schools.