November 7, 2011

Tech likes chances against OSU

Texas Tech's run defense -- or lack of run defense -- struggled mightily against Texas this past weekend.

No. 2 Oklahoma State is known for its passing attack between the combination of quarterback Brandon Weeden, reigning Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon and other solid receivers Tracy Moore and Josh Cooper, but the Cowboys also can run the ball if need be.

Against Tech, running the ball is probably the best way to go.

"That's one thing they've done, I've been impressed with Oklahoma State this year," Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "They ran it some, but they weren't consistent last year. If you get into a certain type of defenses and you start doubling their wide receivers and getting people out of the box, I mean, they get in their inverted wishbone look and they can pound you and they can run. They've got running backs that can run and block. Their offensive line is physical. They don't wallow around on you. They come off the football."

Still, Oklahoma State looks awfully similar to a classic Red Raider squad under former head coach Mike Leach. They can't get stray too far away from the pass.

And that's why Tech matches up more favorably against the second best team in the nation and one of just five remaining undefeated teams.

In a big 52-45 win against then-No. 14 Kansas State in Oklahoma State's last game, the Cowboys threw for 502 yards and rushed for just 73 yards.

"That fits right into us," Tech defensive end Scott Smith said Monday. "That's perfect. I think we have a better chance to win this game than we have the past two. I feel good about this game, I can't wait. This is a game that finally matches with us. They're going to come out and throw the ball and that's what thy want.

"They're not that good of a running team, I don't think. I've watched them play. They're going to try to run here and there, but we're going to stop it and they'll have to throw the ball. They're really good at throwing the ball too, but you know."

Smith referred back to Tech's last win at then-No. 3 Oklahoma. In that game, the Red Raiders faced a team that had a decent running game but knew its best strength was throwing the ball. Oklahoma stalled out in its passing game early long enough for Tech to take a commanding lead and by the time Oklahoma learned how to exploit the Red Raiders' run defense it was too late to allow time to run off the clock with an onslaught of run plays.

The Cowboys did put up a 327 yards on the ground against Baylor in a 59-24 victory two weeks ago, but they had demoralized the Bears into submission long before the rushing yardage began to accumulate.

The thought in Tech's locker room is if the Red Raiders can hold Oklahoma State into some early offensive stalls there's potential for another Oklahoma-caliber upset. On Senior Day. The day Tech honors America's troops with the Wounded Warrior Project. At home where the Red Raiders are 2-3.

The trick is the Tech offense will have to get the ball into the endzone like it did against Oklahoma.

It's not like Oklahoma State is stopping anyone though. The Pokes allow opponents an average of 461 yards per game. However, the Cowboys are among the nation's best in turnover margin with a plus-17 rating - 18 interceptions on the year and 13 fumbles recovered.

I'm not scared at all, but it's something we respect them for," quarterback Seth Doege said. "And that's just one of those things we're going to have-- the little things of ball security and me being accurate and not forcing balls and things like that are going to be huge in this game."

What the Red Raiders should have learned from the Oklahoma game was that with near mistake free execution on offense they could beat nearly anyone with an occasional stop on defense. That hasn't happened.

But here's another chance against a team very similar to the Sooners in all regards this season.

A chance to redeem themselves for the ones that got away.

"Me personally, I feel confident in our ability to win football games.," Doege said. "And I feel confident in our ability to move the ball on anybody we play, and if you are sitting in our meetings and you're watching film with us you would understand that the only time we're ever stopped is when we stop ourselves and it's only one or two guys every play whether it be me making a bad read or a bad throw or a guy running a wrong route not getting the depth on his route. Or offensive line taking the wrong step. And it's just the little things that kind of have been, we've been played with these last couple of weeks that kind of put us in a bad position. And then defensively, you know, they haven't had the best showings these last two weeks.

"But I'm confident and I feel like they're going to respond back. And their backs are against the corner. I think they're going to come out swinging and respond and do a good job."

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