The Road to Redemption Leads Through Tech

Happy Thanksgiving week, football freaks! Hope you’re gearing up for some good eating with your family and friends. Also, football. Great American traditions go together.

This week the Texas Tech Red Raiders bring their lunatic Raider Red person to town, along with their football team, to take on the Longhorns at home. Now, Texas has to shake off that loss to Okie State. It wasn’t pretty. However! Did you see how Okie State dismantled Baylor? Man, they laid a walloping down on them. Ouch. It helped me feel better about the Texas loss. Okie State appears to be too legit to quit this year. Sadly, of course, because I’d like to see Texas still riding the wave of Ws. Instead, they’re coming off a tough loss and facing Dipcup U on Thanksgiving Day.

Before you get too upset, Tech has a legitimate history of using inanimate objects to express their displeasure with an opposing team. I have a personal story, which I know you all love and enjoy. Feel free to skip ahead. My oldest sister is 13 years my senior. When I was bopping about in grade school, she was sporting sleek 1970s platform heels, giant hair, and dating young men of college age. One such fellow was in the Longhorn Band. Played trumpet. He had great stories about the games, especially the “away” games. This was back in the 1970s when Texas was a national powerhouse, so lots of hate got ginned up for every game. He had particular distaste for playing at Jones Stadium in Lubbock. Aside from the obvious reasons (Lubbock), he said the fans were the WORST. When the band marched in, they were pelted with everything from ice to small rocks to cups full of chewing tobacco offal. You know, spit. That’s gross, y’all. Who raised you? So that’s where I get my dipcup history about Tech, and I shall use it unto eternity. It’s funny because it’s true. Their fans are potentially the worst in the Big 12. If you have another nominee, I’d love to hear about it! Let’s discuss.

At any rate, the Red Raiders come into Austin on Thursday the underdog, by about four points. I don’t have Vegas odds yet, but that’s what the betting types are talking about for the spread. Tech has a 7-4 overall record, but they’re 4-4 in conference. Their last four games were losses, boom boom boom boom. Before the bye week both teams enjoyed, Tech got waxed by Baylor, 63-34. They also dropped games to Kansas State, Okie State, and Oklahoma. They’re hurting. They lack an identity, but on some level, so does Texas.

One statistic leaps out at me: Tech ranks first among FBS teams in passing yards. FIRST. IN PASSING YARDS. Did you see any of their game against Baylor? Tech scored on their first three possessions. They were manhandling the Bears, for awhile. Then the game got out of hand for Tech. They employ the two-QB system, with Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield. Webb has won the starting position in the recent games—that were losses. Mayfield, a freshman, started against Baylor, but things went south in a hurry. Can Texas apply the same pressure as Baylor, disrupting their pass-happy offense?

In the OKST game, the Texas defense suffered mightily against the run. Tech is nowhere near as potent an offense as OKST. But Texas has had trouble with heavy passing teams. Long balls have stymied the secondary. Whether it’s zone or man-man coverage, the safeties and corners have to play the ball, stop the long passes, and keep anyone from getting a head of steam up to run downfield. The read-option offense has given Texas fits. If the ‘Horns can bring heavy pressure on the QB, whichever one it is, hurry passes, collapse the pocket, predict accurately—things could get ugly in a hurry for Tech. Tech is nowhere near as physical as Okie State or Baylor, but if they get rolling, they could be hard to stop. Lesson: load the line, pressure early and often, keep assignments, have sound tackling fundamentals. Stuff it down their throats from the first snap to the last. I know the Texas D is capable. Let’s hope their hearts are in it!

Tech’s defense has its own issues. If you look at the scores from their losses, you see opposing teams hanging a ton of points on them. Texas has its soft spots, but Kansas State scored 49 points on Tech. Oklahoma scored 38.

I believe the key for this game is the Texas offense. I have confidence the Texas D can bring the pressure on Tech. I am less sure what flavor of offense we will see on Thursday. As you’ve no doubt heard, there is more trouble in Longhornville, with Daje Johnson suspended for one game due to breaking team rules. The rule infraction wasn’t specified, but it’s likely severe if Coach Brown felt it necessary to further deplete the already thin offense. Daje is a potent weapon, and he’ll be missed. Looks like Kendall Sanders will take his place on special teams. And Texas has some great players still on the field for offense. The key is Case McCoy. If he’s on, the offense will be on. If he’s not…it could be the end of your happy tryptophan coma. I know the kid has heart. Moxie, if you’re not sick of hearing that. He’s got to bring his skills to the game as well. Here’s hoping the week off did everyone some good.

Game time is 7:30 Eastern, on Fox Sports 1. Again, I encourage you to create a drinking game (or eating game! Whatever!) around the many, many mistakes the FS1 announcers will make. They raise malapropisms to an art form. To those of you going to the game, bundle up! Stay warm and scream your guts out. I’ll be watching from the comfort of the Pacific NW, with family and pets by my side. Until my yelling becomes too much. My enthusiasms can be a burden.

Have a safe and plentiful Thanksgiving, eat like nothing has calories, and enjoy the fellowship! Don’t forget to watch some football. Until next time, Hook ‘em ‘Horns!

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