Last year’s preview featured the following definition:
Rival (n): 1. A person or thing that is in a position to dispute another’s preeminence or superiority; a stadium without a rival; 2. A person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another; competitor.
Several fans disagreed with my assertion that Texas Tech and Texas A&M are rivals. The emotion and excitement displayed by fans of both teams seems to discredit individuals who do not feel that Texas Tech and A&M are indeed rivals.
Texas A&M’s slim lead in the overall series (34-31-1) is further proof that this contest has developed into a rivalry. Texas A&M comes into this game sitting at 2-4 after dropping a 44-30 home game against Kansas State. However, there is good talent in College Station, most notably the maturation of sophomore QB Jerrod Johnson.
Texas Tech is heading to College Station off the heels of a 37-31 overtime win against Nebraska. Both teams should be eager to prove they are better than what transpired last week.
Texas A&M Passing
QB Jerrod Johnson leads the Aggie offense. On the season he has completed 88-of-145 passes (60.7 percent) for 1,089 yards with 11 TDs and 4 INTs. He has also run 51 times for 129 yards (2.5 per rush) with 1 TD. At 6-foot-5, 229 pounds, Johnson should remind Texas Tech fans of versatile K-State QB Josh Freeman.
Texas A&M Rushing
Texas A&M has an ultra-talented backfield. Junior speedster Mike Goodson leads the group. He has carried the ball 67 times for 368 yards (5.5 per carry) with 4 TDs. Next on the list is true freshman Cyrus Gray. He has 36 rushes for 156 yards (4.3 per carry) but no scores. Rated the No. 5 RB in the country by Rivals recruiting service, the future is bright for this youngster.
Senior FB Jorvorskie Lane has carried the ball only 21 times for 67 yards (3.2 per carry) and one score to finish A&M’s scoring on the ground so far this season. Lane’s rushing numbers are surprising considering he shed some pounds and is now 6-foot, 285 pounds.
Don’t be surprised to see Lane get some carries against the Red Raiders; he’s a powerful runner despite his girth. Aggie fans better hope he doesn’t make any predictions to the media. (Lane’s guarantee of victory prior to last year’s game fueled a 35-7 A&M loss in Lubbock.) The A&M run game suffers because the offensive line is not playing well this year.
Texas A&M Receiving
Freshman WR Ryan Tannehill leads A&M’s receiving corps. He has caught 28 passes for 401 yards (14.3 per catch) with three scores. Tannehill was recruited as a QB and will battle Jerrod Johnson for that position next spring.
Jeff Fuller, another freshman, has also done well this season. Fuller has 24 receptions for 324 yards (13.5 per catch) with a team-leading four TDs. RB Goodson is next on the receiving charts with 22 catches for 186 yards (8.5 per catch) with three scores. Goodson’s speed makes him very dangerous catching screen passes out of the backfield.
Jamie McCoy, a junior TE from Midland, has 17 catches for 202 yards (11.9 per catch) and 2 scores to round out A&M’s receiving scores this season.
If there is a silver lining to A&M’s 2-4 start, it has to be the play of their receivers. Every single TD pass so far this season has been caught by an underclassman.
Texas Tech Passing
Texas Tech’s offense is likely eager to get this one started after not seeing the field much last week because of Nebraska’s ball-control offense.
For the season, Graham Harrell has completed 178-of-262 passes (67.9 percent) for 2,311 with 20 TDs and 3 INTs. Backup Taylor Potts has completed 14-25 passes for 168 yards with no scores and 1 INT.
Texas Tech Rushing:
The Red Raiders’ ground attack continues to impress. Shannon Woods leads the team in carries with 71 attempts for 382 yards (5.4 per carry) with eight TDs. However, Baron Batch has 52 rushes for 404 yards (7.8 per carry) with three TDs. Both RB’s are explosive and equally capable of making blocks to protect Harrell.
The importance of a solid running game grows as Tech conference opponents who are more familiar with Mike Leach’s passing attack. Eric Morris has six runs for 34 yards (5.7 per carry) with two TDs. Injured RB Aaron Crawford has one rushing score this season and QB Harrell has three scores on the ground to end Tech’s rushing scores.
Texas Tech Receiving
Michael Crabtree leads the Red Raiders in catches, yards and scores. He has posted 43 receptions for 653 yards (15.2 per catch) and 10 TDs on the season. That’s pretty remarkable considering every defensive coordinator in the country knew about the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner.
Detron Lewis, a native of College Station, is next. The sophomore has 31 catches for 444 yards (14.3 per catch) and one score this season. Eric Morris has 28 grabs for 343 yards (12.3 per catch) and two scores.
Freshman Tramain Swindall has 20 catches for 236 yards (11.8 per catch) and one score. Eddie Britton, a speedster from El Paso, has 13 catches for 168 yards (12.9 per catch) and 2 scores. Britton didn’t reach the end zone last week but he did have a 57-yard catch last week against Nebraska.
Lyle Leong has six catches for 69 yards (11.5 per catch) with three scores and Ryan Hale has a four-yard catch for a score to finish Tech’s aerial scoring.
After being out of college football for 12 years, Mike Sherman appears to have a major rebuilding job on his hands at A&M.
But, his football knowledge and NFL experience should give Aggie fans some hope (unlike Dennis Franchione, who rode the coat-tails of LaDainian Tomlinson to undeserved jobs).
Despite Franchione's struggles, not many around A&M thought Sherman would have this much trouble in his first season at the helm.
Home field advantage could be critical in this matchup. Fans should expect a much closer game than the 20 points Las Vegas experts are giving A&M.
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach doesn’t get rattled by anything and his senior QB has won in College Station before. The senior leadership of Texas Tech should give the Red Raiders enough to hold off A&M.
Texas A&M 28
Texas Tech 41
Food for Thought