Texas Tech enters Saturday’s road game against Kansas State eager to prove it belongs among the nation’s elite. It’s ironic that the first Big 12 game was played between these two teams in 1996, a game Kansas State won 21-14. This time, however, Texas Tech is undoubtedly the superior team.
Mike Leach and his staff have worked tirelessly over the last eight years to prove that Texas Tech is more than just a fun team to watch. The talent level at Texas Tech has increased each year, and expectations have risen even more rapidly.
Manhattan, Kan., is a tough place to play, and the Tech coaching staff realizes that. Tech’s only win at K-State came in 2004 when Danny Amendola returned a punt for a score and DE Adell Duckett intercepted a screen pass for another score. 35-25 was the final in that game.
Kansas State Passing
Kansas State will lean heavily upon the arm and athletic ability of starting QB Josh Freeman. For the season Freeman has completed 77-of-115 passes (67 percent) for 1,105 yards with 11 TDs and 2 INTs.
In addition, Freeman has not been sacked this season. Sophomore Carson Coffman is the backup and has completed 10-of-20 passes on the year for 90 yards and one INT.
Freeman can also give defensive coordinators nightmares with his running ability. He has run 22 times for 113 yards and his six rushing TDs easily leads the Wildcats, since no other runner has more than a single trip to the end zone on the season.
Kansas State Rushing
In fact, Kansas State’s running game has been so unimpressive that they trotted out former WR Lamark Brown at RB last week. The results were good—Brown finished the game with 30 carries for 125 yards (4.2 per carry) and one score.
The bad news is that those rushing totals came against Louisiana-Lafayette, a team not exactly known for its imposing rush defense. Look for Brown to get the bulk of carries at RB this week.
Keithen Valentine has tallied 31 carries on the season for 118 yards (3.8 per carry) with one score, and Logan Dold has 18 rushes for 82 yards (4.6 per carry) and one score also.
Justin Woods’ 19 carries for 63 yards (3.3 per carry) and one TD finish K-State’s scoring on the ground. However, WR Deon Murphy had one rush for 44 yards. The Texas Tech defense will have to keep their eyes on him.
Kansas State Receiving
QB Josh Freeman has a plethora of talented receivers at his disposal. Leading the group is Brandon Banks. The junior has 22 receptions for 463 yards (21 yards per catch) and six scores. Aubrey Quarles is next with 17 catches for 199 yards (11.7 per catch) and one touchdown.
Jason Mastrud has 14 for 158 yards (11.3 per catch) and one score also. RB Brown has caught 12 balls for 118 yards (9.8 per catch) and one score. The aforementioned Deon Murphy has seven catches for 140 yards and two scores to finish K-State’s scoring through the air.
Texas Tech Passing
Texas Tech is 4-0, and the Red Raiders have a veteran QB who knows how to handle the rigors of an ultra-tough Big 12 schedule. Graham Harrell begins the conference portion of his senior campaign with modest numbers compared to the blistering start he had to the 2007 season.
In reality, those numbers still have the pin-point passer from Ennis near the top of every relevant passing category this season.
Harrell has completed 120-of-186 passes for 1,573 yards (65 percent) with 12 TDs and three INTs. Backup Taylor Potts has completed 10-of-16 passes for 132 yards.
Texas Tech Rushing
As is his custom, Head Coach Mike Leach continues to befuddle opposing defenses. In the Massachusetts game, it appeared as though the Minutemen were determined to keep the Red Raider receivers from having a banner day.
That must have been OK with Leach—he used RB’s Shannon Woods and Baron Batch to combine for 284 yards between rushes and receptions.
Woods leads the team with 43 carries for 276 yards (6.4 per carry) and seven scores. Batch is right behind him with 32 rushes for 240 yards (7.5 per carry) and two trips to paydirt.
WR Eric Morris has five rushes for 33 yards and one score. Aaron Crawford has eight carries for 26 yards and one score. QB Harrell has the only other rushing TD on the year for Texas Tech.
Texas Tech Receiving
Michael Crabtree leads Texas Tech with 29 receptions for 457 yards (15.8 per catch) with six scores.
He had eight games last season in which he tallied 10 or more receptions. So far this season, the sophomore has not reached double digits in receptions.
Detron Lewis is next with 21 receptions for 326 yards and one score. Lewis has been hot and cold this season, but Texas Tech may expect more out of him as the conference season progresses.
Senior Eric Morris has 19 catches for 229 yards (12.1 per catch) and two scores so far this year. The do-it-all dynamo from Shallowater also has a rushing score and a punt return TD on the season.
Freshman Tramain Swindall continues to prove that he is going to be a great player during his time at Texas Tech. He has 15 catches for 165 yards (11.0 per catch) and one score.
His TD total should be two, but one was taken away when a frustrated SMU defender ripped off Harrell’s helmet. RB Batch has 12 receptions for 160 yards, good for a 13.3 per catch average, but he has not reached the end zone through the air yet this season.
Edward Britton has nine catches for 87 yards (9.7 per catch) and two scores to finish Tech’s receiving TD’s. Britton has underachieved so far this season, but it has flown under the radar since the team has found other weapons in Batch and Swindall.
Look for the speedy junior from El Paso to assert himself the rest of the year. His ability to stretch the defense with the deep ball could be key against teams that will play a zone and attempt to keep the Red Raider receivers in front of them.
In most years, a road game meant much angst and gnashing of the teeth for Red Raider faithful. This is no ordinary season. Texas Tech has superior talent in all areas except possibly the kicking game.
The fact that this is the first major road test of the season should be enough motivation for Texas Tech to play like the championship-caliber team that it is.
Ron Prince and his guys have home-field advantage and the kind of QB who usually gives the Red Raider defense fits—a guy who can throw it, but also run for many yards if the passing play breaks down.
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