This weekend the Texas Longhorns will square it up against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech at 11a.m. in DKR. Mack Brown will match up against Tommy Tuberville. Coach Tuberville is an SEC alum who headed up the program at Auburn for a decade. The Texas staff, in its recent makeover, is now loaded with former SEC coaches as well with Major Applewhite, Manny Diaz, Bo Davis, and Bennie Wylie all hired away from SEC schools. All these men have come to the Big 12 with a mind to toughen up what has been perceived to be a finesse league.
Even though Coach Tuberville has committed to recruiting better talent and developing a hard nosed attitude on defense, he has continued the air it out philosophy of the Mike Leach era to a great extent. Seth Doege nationally ranks 4th in yards, 1st in pass attempts, T-8th in TD’s, while throwing only 6 interceptions on the year. The Texas defensive backfield is immensely talented but also very young and still raw and they must play well if the Longhorns will have any chance at slowing down the passing attack. They cannot rely on the Texas pass rush to disrupt this offense. There have been some changes to the Tech offense. They has been slightly more committed to the run than in years past, progressing from 84 to 141 to 149 yds/game rushing. Unfortunately this has not led to a better result on the field. The Red Raiders come in to the game with a 2-3 conference mark. The only bonus for them is that one of those wins came against Oklahoma, in Norman. It is by far the biggest upset in the Big 12 this year.
The Horns come in to this game off a solid victory over Kansas. The defense was at the top of its game and the offense was able to impose its will on the ground racking up more than 400 yards rushing. This couldn’t come at a better time for Texas and a worse time for the men from Lubbock. Texas Tech is giving up 225 yds/game and almost five yards per carry on the ground. The Texas offense will need to show they can do more than throw screens and passes to the flats to keep Tech from loading the box. They must make an effort to stretch the field in addition to continuing to run the ball from all angles to keep the Tech defense off balance.
In the realm of intangibles for this game, playing Tech away from Lubbock is always a bonus but the 11am start and lack of interest in this game nationally could cause Texas to lose focus while the Red Raiders attempt to upset another conference powerhouse on the road. With the added distraction of Garrett Gilberts transfer to SMU and the departure of wide out Chris Jones from the program on top of the uncertainty surrounding the injury to Jaxon Shipley, Mack Brown and Co. must keep this team focused on the task at hand. This game couldn’t be more important in rebuilding the confidence and stature of the program. A win on Saturday guarantees a bowl game and the all important 15 practices that precede it. That makes this a must-win game for Texas.