The Daily Texan spoke with Zach Richards, sports editor of The Daily Toreador, ahead of Texas’ Big 12 opener against Texas Tech.
The Daily Texan: What’s your overall evaluation of the team so far? What’d you see in Texas Tech’s opening win against Houston Baptist, and what are some of the strengths and concerns of the team?
Zach Richards: Generally, I would honestly say Tech is a bit behind where fans want to be. It’s hard to say because the team opened against Houston Baptist and they’re obviously not the best of competition, but that game was a lot closer than the program wanted it to be. There were a lot of outstanding things in that game that are going to be exponentially shown against good teams like Texas.
DT: Sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman showed a lot of promise early last season before his injury. How does he look this year?
ZR: The first few possessions and a few times throughout the Houston Baptist game he missed a few throws, but honestly they’re throws he can make. I think it was just kind of rust, first-game jitters, stuff like that. He even mentioned in his press conference that those are passes he can make, those are plays that he makes with consistency. I think he’s good. He’ll get his yards because Tech’s system is heavily predicated around him throwing the ball, and he’s really good at that.
DT: What can you tell me about T.J. Vasher? He’s been the guy on Texas’ radar in each of the last three matchups and is probably a top-three receiver in the Big 12.
ZR: He’s a big guy. Tall, 6’6”, very physical, athletic. I think one of the biggest things that can hurt you is when you get into the red zone with T.J. He’s an absolute elite red zone threat with his size, his length and his catching ability. Once Tech gets into the red zone, he’ll probably be one of the guys they look to go to. That’s where he’s most dangerous, in that red zone area.
DT: What are Texas Tech’s keys to success?
ZR: Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said first they’ll need to limit the run because if Texas gets the run going, Tech is susceptible to play action, and then that’s where you get the long bombs from Sam (Ehlinger) and that’s where you get big chunks of yardage. So one of his main points of emphasis was stopping the run out of the gate, but also making sure the secondary is secure and locked in to prevent big plays like they gave up against Houston Baptist. On the offensive end, it’s just be consistent, limit turnovers, establish the run game early and see what develops after that.
DT: Lastly, what’s on the line for Texas Tech in this game? Is there an immediate pressure to win against an in-state rival?
ZR: There’s still the rivalry aspect even though Texas has stomped Tech in the past. Tech has already outsold the ticket total from the Houston Baptist game, and there’s going to be way more of a fan presence than there was at the Houston Baptist game. Texas blew them out the last time the teams met, so there’s definitely a chip on these guys’ shoulders coming into the matchup. I think due to what happened last game, Texas blowing Tech out of the water, and this being a home game, that Texas Tech has something to prove.