Texas Tech-Kansas: Red Raiders Enter Stage One of Hard Climb to Big 12's Peak
Texas Tech travels north to take on the Kansas Jayhawks Saturday at 11AM CST on ESPN. With Texas Tech in the top 10 and on the road, a case can be made that this is the biggest football game in Red Raider history.
It will be interesting to see how Texas Tech responds to the pressure of being the underdogs in a game for the first time this season. Kansas had a magical run last season but graduated several players and lost another to the NFL via early entry.
KU QB Todd Reesing directs the offense. He has completed 195-280 passes (69.6 percent) for 2,322 with 17 TDs and five INTs. Reesing also provides a threat in the running game. He has rushed 66 times for 110 yards (1.7 yards per attempt) with two TDs. Reesing’s rushing stats may not be eye catching but he gets first downs and puts immense pressure on a defense. The backup QB, Kerry Meier, happens to be KU’s leading receiver. Look for Kansas to stick with Reesing unless an injury of some sort slows him.
The Jayhawk tailback crew is led by Jake Sharp. He has 88 carries for 386 yards (4.4 yards per carry) with five TDs. Angus Quigley is next with 44 carries for 227 yards (5.2 per carry) with two scores. Jocques Crawford, the nation’s No.1 rated JUCO transfer who was once committed to Texas Tech, has 41 rushes for 124 yards (3.0 per carry) with three TDs. The Jayhawks do a great job with their RBs by getting them in space and letting their athletic ability go to work. Hence, the power running game is not their style.
As mentioned above, Kerry Meier is KU’s top target. On the year he has 57 grabs for 632 yards (11.1 per catch) with three TDs. However, Meier is not the Jayhawks’ most dangerous receiving weapon. That distinction goes to Dezmon Briscoe who has 43 catches for 705 yards (16.4 per catch) with eight trips to pay dirt.
The 6-3 200 pound Briscoe should remind Tech fans of Michael Crabtree. Briscoe is capable of beating one-on-one coverage easily and is elusive in the open field. Johnathan Wilson has 22 receptions for 342 yards (15.5 per catch) with two scores. Dexton Fields, a senior from Dallas South Oak Cliff, caught 63 passes for 834 yards and six scores last season. This year, he’s been hampered by injuries but is expected to start this Saturday. This season he has 10 catches for 119 yards with no scores.
Texas Tech Passing
QB Graham Harrell will be in the shotgun for Mike Leach’s Red Raiders. The senior has completed 222-318 passes (69.8 percent) for 2,761 yards with 23 TDs and five INTs. Harrell was not his usual self against Texas A&M—he threw a ball over the middle that was way over the WR’s head and was intercepted. The bad news for Jayhawk fans is that Harrell will likely not make that same mistake this week. Taylor Potts is Harrell’s backup and he is 14-25 (56 percent) with no scores and one INT.
Texas Tech Rushing
Shannon Woods leads the Red Raiders in attempts with 78 rushes for 402 yards (5.2 per carry) and eight scores. Baron Batch has 65 totes for 491 yards (7.6 per carry) with four scores. WR Eric Morris has six runs for 34 yards (5.7 per carry) with two TDs. Sophomore RB Aaron Crawford is coming off but has eight carries for 26 yards (3.3 per carry) with one score. Incidentally, Aaron Crawford is the younger brother of KU’s Jocques Crawford.
Texas Tech has used the running game more this season than in any of the previous eight years of Mike Leach’s tenure. The credit for that goes to Leach, RB coach Seth Littrell, the veteran offensive line, and the dynamic tailbacks. Shannon Woods and Baron Batch are hard, explosive runners but they are also not afraid to lay the wood to opposing teams who decide to blitz Graham Harrell. Texas Tech may not be known as “Tailback U” but the Red Raiders use their running backs in more ways than nearly any other team in college football.
Texas Tech Receiving
Michael Crabtree paces the Red Raider receivers. On the season he has 51 grabs for 724 yards (14.2 per catch) and 12 TDs. Crabtree tried his hand at returning kickoffs last week against Texas A&M. The results were positive as the sophomore from Dallas had a 50-yard return. Detron Lewis has 40 catches for 536 yards (13.4 per catch) with one score and Eric Morris has 35 receptions for 413 yards (11.8 per catch) with two TDs. Tramain Swindall, Baron Batch, Edward Britton and Lyle Leong have combined for seven TDs.
Among conference coaches, only Bob Stoops is likely more familiar with Mike Leach’s coaching and tendencies than Mark Mangino. Both men coached under Stoops at OU. That is a positive for Mangino, but it remains to be seen if KU has good enough corners and safeties to slow down Tech’s passing attack.
On the other side of the coin, the Red Raider defense has traditionally had problems with mobile QBs and Reesing definitely fits into that category. The Red Raiders will have advantages on both the offensive and defensive lines. Kansas starts two freshman offensive tackles and the Red Raider defensive line has been better this season than in any other under Leach’s guidance. Texas Tech is 0-9 against ranked opponents on the road in the last five years but is also 9-1 all-time against Kansas.
Texas Tech: 45
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