Keys to the Game

Matt Warden

Slow Down the Offense: Texas Tech possesses one of the best offenses in the country, with a passing attack that is a perennial juggernaut. The Red Raiders rank No. 12 in total offense and No. 3 in passing this season. Led by quarterback Seth Doege, they pass the ball efficiently and frequently every week, scoring points in surplus against almost every opponent. Tech has scored over 20 points in every contest this year and has only lost two games which were against equally impressive offenses. The Longhorns have had trouble all season preventing big plays. Against an offense that makes a living from big plays, Texas needs to step up its pass defense. The defense should use its strength in its defensive line to get pressure on Doege and force him into bad passes. Both of Tech’s losses came in games in which it turned the ball over three times. Texas Tech has shown that it can erupt at any moment with long and short passes, so Texas will really need to step up its coverage. Bump receivers at the line, hit ball carriers hard, get pressure on the quarterback, whatever Texas needs to do to disrupt the flow of the Texas Tech offense.

Establish the Run: A key that seems to appear almost every week could be the key to victory for the Longhorns yet again. In both of Texas Tech’s losses, their opponents established the running game to set the tempo of the game. Oklahoma racked up 121 yards on the ground, while Kansas State pounded the line and scored four rushing touchdowns in a rout. Texas’ backs are known for reeling off big runs, especially in the red zone when Joe Bergeron is let out of the  cage. In order to discourage the Tech defense and keep up with the elite offense, Texas should look to use the running game to wear Tech out. Let Johnathan Gray pick up those tough first downs early in the drive, and have Bergeron pound in another red zone score to add to his 15 on the year. With the unclear quarterback situation for the Longhorns, picking up solid yardage on the ground could give confidence and momentum to whatever signal caller is in the game. Establishing a tempo that fits their game plan will wear down the Texas Tech defense and allow the No. 8 ranked offense do its work.

Make Adjustments: A big reason for the struggles of the Longhorns has been their inability to adjust when problems reveal themselves. When Oklahoma ran the ball with authority, leaving their passing game as an afterthought at several points, Texas didn’t up the pressure. When West Virginia used short passes over the middle to open up running lanes, Texas didn’t fill the box with defenders. The Longhorns must find a way to outsmart the Red Raiders in a game that showcases two great offenses. If the Red Raiders find a flaw in the Longhorns game plan, they will likely keep attacking it like many other opponents have done. If Texas wants to win this game, they must identify their weaknesses early on and fix them. If they wait around and hope things work out in the end, they will be looking at another Big 12 loss.