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Harrison Wier

Offensive Preview: Texas Tech (Jameson McCausland)

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BY JAMESON MCCAUSLAND

For a defense that is struggling, a Kliff Kingsbury offense is not what you want to see coming up on the schedule. Texas will have to try to go into Lubbock and slow down a Texas Tech offense that will be playing with a backup QB. Despite the key injury, the Red Raiders will still trot out big-time playmakers at almost every position. It will be another tough test for the Longhorns, as they look for a win to keep their hopes at going to the Big 12 championship alive. Let’s take a look at the Texas Tech offense:

Quarterback

The good news for Texas is the Red Raiders will be without QB Alan Bowman, who is dealing with a punctured lung (best wishes for a speedy recovery). The bad news is backup Jett Duffey brings a running dimension to the offense that the Longhorns will be forced to account for. Texas Tech will take a step back in the passing game under Duffey, but rest assured that Kliff Kingsbury is going to have a game plan in place to try to exploit what Texas has shown on film the past few weeks — that they struggle to stop the run.

Duffey has thrown for 627 yards this season with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The key for the Longhorns this week will be forcing turnovers. The sophomore will throw the ball to the other team if you let him. Duffey is the second-leading rusher on the team with 297 yards. The Red Raiders aren’t likely to run the zone read directly at Texas like Oklahoma State did, but Duffey will be used as a runner and is elusive in space.

Running Back

Freshman Ta’Zhawn Henry is the leading rusher for the Red Raiders with 346 yards. Henry was at one point last year thought to be on Texas’ radar, but the 5’7 speedster ended up in Lubbock and has broken onto the scene in his first year. Henry is not your typical between the tackles runner, but Kliff Kingsbury is not your traditional play-caller. The Red Raiders will throw the ball to set up the run, and when they do run the ball, they will utilize Henry in space. When Texas Tech gets near the goal line or is in short yardage situations, Da’Leon Ward and DeMarcus Felton will be the go-to backs.

The Red Raiders love to use the running back in the passing game, and Kingsbury has to be licking his chops thinking about Anthony Wheeler going against any of his running backs in the open field. The key for Texas will be recognizing Tech’s personnel and making sure they limit the busted assignments that have plagued them in recent weeks.

Wide Receiver

As usual, Tech has several receivers who can hurt defenses on the outside and in underneath coverage. Antoine Wesley and TJ Vasher are matchup nightmares at 6’5 and 6’6, respectively. Wesley leads the team with 1176 receiving yards and Vasher has added 470. Kris Boyd and Davante Davis will have to bring their best game to Lubbock, or it may be a long night for the Longhorn defense. Ja’Deion High operates primarily out of the slot and will look to cause problems for PJ Locke. High has 615 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns on the season.

Texas has been prone to the deep ball in recent weeks, and while Duffey isn’t necessarily the QB to exploit that weakness, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wesley and Vasher get chances to go up and make plays.

Offensive Line

There is not much that stands out about the Red Raiders offensive line. They have the usual size that Air Raid offenses need and serve more as obstacles in the run game than movers. RG Jack Anderson was a member of the All-Big 12 Freshman Team a season ago and is one of the highest-ranked recruits to ever attend Tech.

Kingsbury does a nice job of scheming around any offensive weaknesses he has. The ball is always coming out of the QB’s hands quickly, and if a team chooses to blitz the QB, he will have an option of getting the ball to a playmaker in space.

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