Scouting Report: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas wrapped up non-conference play with a 58-0 blowout win over Rice and will now turn their attention to conference play. The first Big 12 test will be welcoming Texas Tech to Austin. The Red Raiders are 3-0 after opening the season with wins against Houston, Stephen F. Austin and Florida International. Matt Wells entered 2021 on the hot seat but is off to a good start and has some intriguing pieces to work with. Let's take a look at what to expect from the Red Raiders:
Wells opted to shake up the core of his offense this past offseason by firing offensive coordinator David Yost and opting to look into the transfer portal to find a new quarterback. Yost was replaced by TCU offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, a former player at Texas Tech. Wells was also able to bring in former Oregon QB Tyler Shough as his new starting quarterback.
Shough has had some up-and-down moments to start the season. After opening with a solid performance against Houston, he was held to 12 of 22 passing while tossing 2 interceptions against Stephen F. Austin. He was able to rebound last week with a big game against Florida International. As with most quarterbacks who have come through Tech, he has the arm talent to make pretty much every throw on the field, although his decision making can be questionable at times.
The biggest difference the Red Raiders have seen so far with Cumbie calling the plays is more success running the football. Sophomore running back Tahj Brooks is averaging over 8 yards a carry and already has 4 touchdowns on the season. A big storyline for Saturday's game will be the availability and workload of SaRodorick Thompson, who had a huge game against the Longhorns a season ago. Thompson sat out the first two games this year while recovering from a shoulder injury, but he returned last week and carried the ball 4 times for 11 yards. It is unknown if Thompson will be close to full strength on Saturday or if he will be on a pitch count.
At receiver, Erik Ezukanma is to-go man and someone Texas will need to keep track of at all times. Ezukanma already has 16 receptions for 350 yards and a touchdown in 3 games. Interestingly, the only other player with double digit receptions so far is TE Travis Koontz, who had a good game last week and will targeted frequently in the red zone.
The Red Raiders have a veteran offensive line that features 3 senior starters. LT T.J Storment transferred in from TCU after starting the majority of the games in 2020 at Left Tackle for the Horned Frogs. Center Dawson Deaton has started 26 career games and is one of the best centers in the Big 12. Overall, the unit probably ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to Big 12 offensive lines. The Texas defensive line is going to have to work to make an impact on Saturday.
Transfers and experience are the best two ways to describe what the Red Raiders have defensively.
All 11 starters are juniors and seniors, and 9 of the 11 made their way to Lubbock via the transfer portal or junior college. The strength of the defense is at linebacker, where the Red Raiders have Colin Schooler, brother of Texas safety Brenden Schooler, and Riko Jeffers. Schooler leads the team with 21 tackles on the season.
The biggest question marks for Texas Tech is along the defensive line. The Red Raiders are experienced up front, but lack true difference makers and often lean on their linebackers to assist with generating a pass rush. Stephen F. Austin was able to throw for 343 yards a few weeks ago, so if the Texas offensive line can provide some protection, Casey Thompson could be in store for a big game.
It has been a long time since there has been even average defensive play in Lubbock, and it remains to be seen if this year will be any different. The Red Raiders have certainly looked improved through 3 games, but they have faced some shaky offenses and still have a tendency to blow assignments from time to time. The Longhorns should be able to move the ball consistently if they limit negative plays and penalties.
Texas Tech is a tough team to figure out. Entering the season, people had the Red Raiders finishing anywhere from 5th all the way down to 9th in the Big 12 standings. This is a game Texas can absolutely lose if they do not come ready to play. The Red Raiders present some matchup problems offensively with Ezukanma on the outside and if Texas allows multiple explosive plays in the passing game, the game is likely to become a nail-biter. If the Longhorns limit big plays and are able to build on the rushing performance they had against Rice a week ago, Texas is likely to start Big 12 play at 1-0.
Game Nuggets: Red Raiders eye 4-0 start to the season
The Texas Longhorns (2-1) open conference play against the Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0) on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in the 71st meeting all-time between the two programs.
Texas holds a 53-17 advantage in the series and leads Texas Tech 31-7 in games played in Austin.
The Red Raiders bring an air raid offense to Austin, led by junior quarterback Tyler Shough, that registers 441 yards of total offense per game.
The 3-0 start for Matt Wells' Red Raider program is the first since the 2017 season, however Wells is 0-2 against Texas as head coach at Texas Tech.
This is the first time the Longhorns and Red Raiders will play in Austin on a non-Thanksgiving Day weekend for the first time since the 2011 season.
Casey Thompson will start for the Longhorns at quarterback for the second consecutive week. Thompson finished 15-18 for 164 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception last week against Rice. The Longhorns beat the Owls 58-0. LAST MEETING: Texas won a shootout in Lubbock last season, defeating Texas Tech 63-56. The Longhorns were down 15 points in the final three minutes but came back to win in OT. This marks the second-straight year and fifth all-time in which Texas and Texas Tech open conference play. Texas is 4-0 in these games. Texas Tech ranks 9th nationally in FBS rushing defense, giving up just 57.3 yards per game on the ground. The Longhorns rank 15th in rushing offense, with an average of 240.3 yards gained on the ground each week. Red Raider QB Tyler Shough is making his fourth start on Saturday and had a career high last week against FIU. Shough completed 26-35 for 399 yards and four touchdowns in the 54-21 win. Texas Tech RB Tahj Brooks leads the Red Raiders on the ground with 35 carries 284 yards and four touchdowns, including 100+ yard performances in the first two games of the season. Texas Tech has two defensive touchdowns already this season, both pick-sixes, coming from linebacker Rico Jeffers and defensive back Marquis Waters. The Red Raiders had four interceptions against Houston in Week 1 of the season. A win by Texas Tech would mark the first 4-0 start for the Red Raiders since 2013. A win by Texas give Steve Sarkisian a 3-0 record at home, making him the first head coach to win his first three home games at DKR since Mack Brown in 1998. In five of the last six games, the outcome of the game has been decided by a touchdown or less. The Longhorns and Red Raiders will kickoff at 11:00 AM with the game being televised nationally on ABC.
RECAP: Texas Routs Rice 58-0 behind Robinson, Johnson rushing attack
AUSTIN, Tx -- The Texas Longhorns (2-1, 0-0) handed a 58-0 shutout defeat to the Rice Owls (0-3, 0-0) at Darrell K. Memorial - Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening in a game that Texas dominated from the first snap. The Longhorns scored at will on the Owls, and mixed in a variety of new wrinkles in the playbook in doing so. After a humiliating performance last week in Fayetteville, Steve Sarkisian and staff put together a gameplan against Rice that spread the ball around more and included a myriad of players that didn't see the field last week. Postgame, Sarkisian spoke on his team's ability to bounce back after a collective commitment and effort to try and improve after the loss to Arkansas.
"When you have to take a big bite of the humble pie like we had to after last week, we challenged the guys that we had to own it. And then we have to get back to work. I thought the intent and mentality of our team all week long in practice translated to the game."
Quarterback Casey Thompson got the starting nod from Sarkisian earlier in the week and made the most of his opportunity, throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Hudson Card replaced Thompson midway through the third quarter and finished the night 2-3 for 29 yards after handing the ball off on most snaps.
Texas tallied 620 yards of total offense, compared to the Owls' 284 yards. The margin of victory was the largest for the Longhorns since the 2005 season.
The offense did their job, but It was the running game that highlighted the night for the Longhorns. Texas ran wild against a struggling Rice defense and saw four different running backs score touchdowns. Bijan Robinson had 13 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns, while Roschon Johnson had 3 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown. Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson added 83 yards and a touchdown on 5 carries, and true freshman Jonathon Brooks had 9 carries for 63 yards and a score.
Rice went through three quarterbacks on the night and punted in seven of eleven total possessions.
The Owls won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving Texas the ball first, and an opportunity to manufacture a 9-play, 69 yard drive that was capped by Bijan Robinson's first touchdown of the night. After a Rice punt in their first possession, Casey Thompson was picked off by Gabe Taylor as he was pressured by Rice's Ikenna Enechukwu. Rice marched downfield, deep into Texas territory before Collin Riccitelli missed a 30-yard FG and gave the Longhorns the ball back.
Roschon Johnson added a 72-yard touchdown run when he took a direct snap out of the 'Wild Horn' formation, giving Texas a 14-0 advantage. After three and out, Keilan Robinson then blocked Rice's punt which bounced out of the end zone and gave the Longhorns a safety and a 16-0 lead after one quarter.
Bijan Robinson opened the second quarter with a bang, adding a pair of touchdown runs which included a 62 yard romp, to extend the lead to 30-0 in favor of the Longhorns. Rice punted on their next possession and Texas scored again, with Thompson finding tight end Jared Wiley for a 20-yard touchdown. The Owls' struggles continued, as they fumbled at the 1:30 mark before the half, allowing Texas to score again. Thompson threw his second touchdown pass of the night, finding Xavier Worthy for his first score as a Longhorn.
At the half, Texas led 44-0.
Rice opened the second half with possession but went three and out. Texas running back Keilan Robinson demonstrated his speed by outrunning defenders while ripping off a 65-yard touchdown run. After another punt by the Owls, true freshman Jonathan Brooks capped a 13-play, 76-yard drive with a 17 yard scamper into the end zone. After three quarters the longhorns led 58-0.
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter but the Longhorns were able to get a slew of reserve players on both sides of the ball into the game which Sarkisian feels is critical for the future.
Texas hosts Texas Tech next Saturday at 11:00 am in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
2022 Texas Football Recruiting Class (21)NamePos.High SchoolCity, StateStarsSAledo High SchoolAledo, TXDLMarlinMarlin, TXRBKlein CainHouston, TXDLTexas HighTexarkana, TXDESouthaven High SchoolSouthaven, MSDLHewitt-Trussvile High SchoolTrussville, ALOLFriscoFrisco, TXLBMartinArlington, TXATHLiberty High SchoolHenderson, NVSRyan High SchoolDenton, TXLBMater Dei High SchoolSanta Ana, CACBWarren Easton High SchoolNew Orleans, LARBTyler LegacyTyler, TXQBJunipero SerraGardena, CAWRLewisvilleLewisville, TXOLWestlakeAustin, TXDTNorth ShoreHouston, TXDEBrophy College PreparatoryPhoenix, AZLSWilliams Field High SchoolGilbert, AZN/AKRegents School of AustinAustin, TXEDGEAscension CatholicDonaldsonville, LA