Even with a loaded Week 1 slate across College Football, Texas Tech and Houston managed to land a 6 p.m. CST spot on ESPN. This is a massive swing game for both programs and could have bowl, program, and even conference realignment implications for both teams.
This game is clearly big for both teams and has a lot of big matchups to watch out for; the battle up front, Kesean Carter vs. the Red Raider secondary, even Ta’Zhawn Henry vs. Houston’s two-deep depth chart. But the one matchup that should be highlighted and I think Texas Tech can gain an edge is Texas Tech’s Receiving Core vs. Houston’s Defensive Backs.
Put simply; Texas Tech has some big dudes in their receiving core. This position group has five guys listed at or above 6’3.
Erik Ezukanma 6’3”, 220
Trey Cleveland 6’4”, 195
Loic Fouonji 6’4”, 220
JJ Sparkman 6’4”, 225
Jerand Bradley 6’5”, 220
Having this kind of size on the outside will create mismatches against any secondary, but most certainly against a Houston unit that only has one listed starter at or above six feet tall. They do have four total players above the six-foot mark in their two-deep, but even so, each of their secondary members is still surrendering at least two inches and around 20 pounds to many of these receivers listed above.
The sheer size of this Texas Tech unit will turn traditional 50-50 jump balls into 70-30 balls. Which over the course of an entire game can and will result in a much smoother and dynamic offense than what we have seen in the last few years where Texas Tech has struggled to throw the ball down the field.
This mismatch will also set up some of Texas Tech’s smaller receivers with more space to work with as the game goes on. Guys like Myles Price, Kaylon Geiger, Dalton Rigdon, and McLane Mannix will be given more room to work within the short passing game if the vertical receiving threat poses a legitimate concern for the Houston defense. Thus, allowing these guys to turn otherwise routine plays into big plays for the Red Raiders over the course of the night.
It is no secret that this is one of the strong points of this Texas Tech roster coming into the season and there is certainly a lot riding on this game for both programs. With Texas Tech playing in primetime on national television in week 1, there will be a lot of eyes on the Red Raiders as they kick off their 2021 season, but for them to develop a consistent offensive rhythm, this position group is going to need to show out against the Cougars as they look to improve to 1-0.
Of all the matchups, you are correct! Shough must make fast and intelligent reads and get the ball out within a couple of seconds, hitting the receivers in stride to be successful! Those receivers, inside-outside-slot-big-small, all must grab the pill and smoke the defense!