No. 11 Texas Tech hosts the Football Championship Subdivision No. 9 Massachusetts Minutemen Saturday at 6 PM in the Red Raiders’ final non-conference game before traveling to Kansas State on October 4.
Tech intercepted five passes last week against SMU and may need a similar effort against UMass considering QB Liam Coen’s 74 career touchdown passes trail only Graham Harrell’s 97.
Senior QB Liam Coen directs the UMass offense. Coen has completed 61-95 attempts (64.2%) for 826 with nine TD’s and one INT. While the Minutemen won’t sling the ball like Texas Tech, they will utilize the passing game more than many Big 12 teams. Coen is accurate and smart so the Tech defense better be alert when he takes the snap.
Victor Cruz is the guy to remember here. He has 18 grabs for 351 yards (19.5 per catch) and two scores. Jeremy Horne (15 catches for 211 yards and three scores) and Julian Talley (six for 95 yards) are the other top targets for Coen.
Tony Nelson is the workhorse. He has 62 carries on the season for 362 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and five scores. QB Coen has UMass’ only other rushing score on 11 carries for 21 yards Korrey Davis has eight totes for 21 yards and Brandon White has three carries for seven yards.
Texas Tech Passing
Graham Harrell is coming off his best passing performance of the season. However, head coach Mike Leach isn’t happy with Harrell’s play. That is nothing but bad news for opposing defensive coordinators. Harrell has completed 93 of 152 passes (61%) for eight TD’s and three INT’s. Look for those numbers to improve this week.
Texas Tech Receiving
Michael Crabtree paces the Red Raiders in catches, yards and touchdowns. He has 24 catches for 395 yards (16.5 YPC) and 5 scores. Detron Lewis has 17 snags for 296 (17.4 YPC) with one score.
Eric Morris (16 catches for 197) and Tramain Swindall (12 catches for 130) are the only other receivers over 100 yards. Fans can expect more focus and effort from the receivers this week. Mike Leach wasn’t happy with some of the drops Tech had last week and made those feelings public.
Texas Tech Rushing
The Red Raider rushing attack continues to make big plays. Through three games, the offense has produced nine rushing TD’s after having a total of 18 in the entire 2007 season. All three of Tech’s RB’s are ultra talented and can cause problems for most any defense.
However, sophomore Baron Batch is beginning to emerge as the go-to guy. His explosive speed was on display during a dazzling 43-yard run last week against SMU and 13.1 yards per catch out of the backfield trails only Crabtree and Lewis. Big things are expected from the triumvirate and Batch is proving why.
Unfortunately for UMass, there is no rest for the weary. The Minutemen were No. 3 last week but lost a heartbreaker to No. 7 James Madison. Now, going on the road to face a talented Texas Tech team may be a different chore altogether.
QB Coen needs to watch out for senior safety Daniel Charbonnet. The reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week appeared to be SMU QB Bo Levi Mitchell’s favorite target. Charbonnet picked off three passes to establish a new school record.
If Mike Leach’s admonishments to his offense pay dividends and Tech’s “Swarm” defense is on point like last week, it could be a long, long flight back to Amherst. UMass may score more than the SMU squad, but they are severely overmatched in this one.
Texas Tech: 62
Soap Box Moment:
I’ve heard a lot of people bash Texas Tech’s schedule this season. Folks, take your anger out on the rest of the major college football programs. Mike Leach has the Red Raiders in the upper echelon of college football and he refuses to go play an opponent that doesn’t want to come to Lubbock.
Coach Leach will take his crew anywhere—as long as they’re willing to visit West Texas also. Gone are the days when Tech would visit Columbus, Ohio or Tallahassee, Florida for a paycheck (and usually a severe beating).
It’s a credit to Coach Leach that teams don’t want to visit Jones AT&T Stadium, but it also says something about the BCS affiliated teams outside the Big 12. Also, let us not forget that Kansas made their first BCS game last season with the nation's easiest schedule.