Texas Tech is 7-0 for the first time since 1976. The Mike Leach system that has received criticism over the years for overemphasis on offense while ignoring defense seems to have finally broken out to contend for the Big 12.
Part of this also may have to do with the fact that Tech has yet to play a ranked team. Their opponents currently sit with a combined record of 22-28...ouch...but that all ends this weekend, when the Raiders begin a series of four games in five weeks, all against ranked teams.
This series kicks off at 11:00 am against the No. 23 Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kansas. This game pits two of the nation’s best QB-WR tandems in the nation against each other with KU’s Reesing-Briscoe (who doesn’t lead the Jayhawks in receptions, but does in yards and TDs) and Tech’s Harrell-Crabtree duo.
It’s safe to say there won’t be a whole lot of defense played, and both teams will probably score at least 40 points. They started the game so early so that it might be over by sundown with all the passing that will be going on.
Of course, now that I’ve said that, watch it be a low-scoring defensive battle with a powerful and conservative running game. Crazier things have happened, but I wouldn’t count on it.
A quick statistical breakdown
Todd Reesing: 195/208 for 2,322 yds and 17 TDs, five INTs
Graham Harrell: 222/318 for 2,761 yds and 23 TDs, five INTs
Dezmon Briscoe: 43 receptions for 705 yds and eight TDs
Michael Crabtree: 51 receptions for 724 yds and 12 TDs
Some defensive stats
KU has the 99th-ranked pass defense in the nation, allowing 250 yards per game.
Tech has the 103rd-ranked pass defense in the nation, allowing 258 yards per game.
KU has the 29th-ranked rushing defense in the nation, allowing 109 yards per game.
Tech has the 12th-ranked rushing defense in the nation, allowing 92 yards per game.
They’re 65th and 58th respectively in total defense and 47th and 43rd respectively in scoring defense.
After Texas Tech’s dismal defensive performances in previous seasons under Mike Leach, the 58th-ranked total defense in the nation looks great. Much of the credit belongs to new defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, who has made some of the best in-game adjustments a Tech coach has made in years this season against Texas A&M, Kansas State, and Nevada.
Texas Tech has caught quite a bit of flak for its last two conference games, both of which were little too close for comfort for most Tech fans. However, 7-0 is still 7-0. That’s more than 110 other Division I-A programs can claim.
The Nebraska game the Raiders needed overtime to win can be compared to the Florida-Ole Miss game. At least the Raiders won their close call game that they almost overlooked.
A&M is an in-state rival school on the road in a very tough environment. The Aggies may not be very good this season, but a win at Kyle is always hard earned, and I can guarantee you that the Aggies were more pumped to play Tech than they were to play Kansas State.
With the defensive adjustments made in the second half, the Ags didn’t get a single offensive point. That, in addition to a Heisman-like game from Harrell (44-for-56 for 450 yards, three TDs, and two INTs), managed to seal an 18-point win. That’s something to be excited about.
Michael Crabtree sprained his ankle against the Aggies but should be back in top shape by Saturday. The ankle was sprained on a 50-yard kickoff return that set up an easy scoring drive for the Raiders.
Whether or not Crabtree can be expected to continue to return kicks is still in question, but he will be in the game. Not that the sprain slowed him down much—he still had a reception for a TD after the return.
Tech will be starting another new kicker this weekend, the third for the season. Matt Williams won a kicking contest a few weeks ago and was offered a walk-on position on the team.
After jumping through some hoops to clear eligibility issues, Williams should be kicking PATs and short yardage FGs on Saturday, though Leach has said that he still hasn’t ruled out the possibility of just going for two on every TD with our current kicking issues.
Historically, the Raiders have never lost at Kansas and are 9-1 against the Jayhawks all time.
Tech will have to put together a complete game from the first snap to the last down—something they have yet to do this season—to pull off the win, but if that happens, they will have justified much of the hype surrounding the program that they’ve worked so hard over the last several seasons to build and set up some great momentum going into the Texas game on Nov. 1.
Tech has the better offense and the better defense—they just have to remember to use them.