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Scouting Report: Texas Tech

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HornSports Staff
HornSports Staff

(Photo: USA Today)

Non-conference play is over, and now all attention turns to Big 12 play as the Longhorns prepare to open the conference slate in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Raiders are led by first-year coach Joey McGuire and are coming off a loss at NC State this past weekend. Let's take a look at what to expect from McGuire's squad.

Offense

The Texas Tech offense suffered a tough blow in week 1 when starting QB Tyler Shough went down with an injury. Redshirt sophomore Donovan Smith took over for Shough and the results have been mixed. Smith has a huge arm and has the ability to push the ball down the field, but his decision making has been questionable at times (5 interceptions in 110 attempts through 3 games) and he appears to still be getting comfortable under new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley. Kittley, who worked at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury, comes from an air raid background but do not expect Tech to throw it all over the field like the Mike Leach days. Kittley has made an emphasis to incorporate the running game and the Red Raiders will go with heavier personnel groupings at times.

Speaking of the running game, running backs SaRodorick Thompson and Tahj Brooks have not found a ton of room to run in the first 3 games. Brooks leads the team with 132 yards and Thompson has 98 yards. The longest running play of the season (27 yards) actually came from Donovan Smith. Part of the running game struggles can be attributed to shaky offensive line play. The Red Raiders will welcome back starting guard Weston Wright this weekend after he missed some time due to injury, but the unit as a whole has been struggling. They have allowed 11 sacks in 3 games and are particularly vulnerable at tackle. The Longhorns will need big games out of Barryn Sorrell and Ovie Oghoufo.

Texas Tech has had better receiver groups over the years, but there are still a few guys to keep an eye on when Smith drops back to pass. Slot receiver Myles Price is second on the team in receptions and is a typical Tech slot receiver: shifty, reliable hands and can make people miss in the open field. Redshirt freshman Jerand Bradley leads the team with 14 receptions for 172 yards and does a good job of using his 6'5 frame. Ryan Watts and D'Shawn Jamison will have their hands full on the outside.

Defense

Last year, there was talk leading up to the Texas-Texas Tech game that the Red Raiders had significantly improved on defense. The Longhorns ended that talk quickly when they put up 70 points with relative ease, led by a 3 touchdown performance by Xavier Worthy.

This year, the Red Raiders again enter this matchup with improved defensive statistics and some promising moments in non-conference play. It remains to be seen if they will take a step back in conference play, but on the surface it certainly appears to be a better unit than the one the Longhorns faced a year go.

Edge rusher Tyree Wilson is a future NFL player who will likely be the third best edge player Texas will face this year behind Will Anderson and Dallas Turner. Wilson already has 2.5 sacks on the season and leads the team in tackles with 21. The Texas Tech defensive front as a whole is an experienced unit that has some quality players. NT Jaylon Hutchings and DT Tony Bradford Jr. are both seniors and do a good job in the interior. A big matchup will be these two going up against the interior of the Texas offensive line. The Longhorns have struggled to run the ball between the tackles at times through the first 3 weeks and will face another sniff challenge on Saturday. 

The secondary is another experienced group led by safety Reggie Pearson Jr. and corner Malik Dunlap. Pearson has the only interception of the season for the Red Raiders. Despite a lot of experience in the backend, teams have been able to create explosive plays in the passing game. Regardless of if Quinn Ewers or Hudson Card start at quarterback, Texas will need to do a better job of pushing the ball down the field.

Final Thoughts

Texas Tech has been tested the last two weeks against Houston and NC State. In both games, it was the defense carrying the offense which is not normal for a program used to having explosive offenses. The pieces are there for Tech to put up yards and points, but the Red Raiders will need Donovan Smith to play better than he has been playing if they hope to pull off the upset.

For Texas, this is a big week for the offensive line. The Longhorns will either be playing Quinn Ewers in his first career road start or be operating with a backup QB. Both scenarios are less than ideal, so Kyle Flood's unit will need to take some pressure off the offense and play at a high level.




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