One last non-conference game is in front of the Red Raiders before they travel down to Austin. Texas Tech vs. Florida International gives the Red Raiders an opportunity to clean up a lot of items heading into conference play.
When Texas Tech Is On Offense
It is no secret that the offense struggled against SFA. Specifically, the passing attack was almost non-existent outside of two receptions by over 50 yards Erik Ezukanma. With the removal of the 75-yard touchdown catch and run by Ezukanam, Tyler Shough went 11-21 with 99 yards and 2 interceptions. Only 31 of Shough’s total passing yards (174) went to receivers other than Ezukanma. The Red Raiders have to get other receivers involved in the passing game. This is the 2nd week in a row where the passing attack was essentially just Shough getting the ball to Ezukanma.
The rushing attack continues to thrive early in the season. With SaRodorick Thompson still recovering from injury, Tahj Brooks has looked explosive. Through two games, he is averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Against SFA, he carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown run. Xavier White also contributed 88 yards on seven carries and one touchdown. It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie utilizes all of the running backs when Thompson returns from injury.
When Texas Tech Is On Defense
The Texas Tech defense can be referred to Jekyll-and-Hyde. The good? The Red Raider rush defense is stout. Currently, (albeit against an AAC and FCS team) Texas Tech ranks 14th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game. The bad? The Red Raider pass defense ranks 100th in passing yards allowed per game at 258.5 yards per game. The ugly? Texas Tech ranks 108th in 4th down conversations with Houston and SFA going a combined 10-13 on 4th down. What does it all equal? The Red Raiders rank 53rd in total defense when it comes to yards allowed per game.
There is a silver lining, Texas Tech currently ranks 13th in the nation in yards per play allowed at 3.94 yards per play. If the defense is going to take the next step, they have to start getting more 3-and-outs. The most basic read of the statistical rankings suggest that the Red Raiders get teams to 3rd and 4th down on consistent basis, but allow the teams to keep drives alive with play just enough to move the chains.
FIU has a quarterback not expected to light it up through the air. Max Bortenschlager leads the Panthers offense in a role best described as a “game-manager.” Butch Davis’ teams are ones that want to establish the run and work the passing game off of the success of that running game. This year, the focal point of the rushing attack is D’Vonte Price. The defense needs to be keyed in on Price all game.
Texas Tech vs. FIU Game Prediction
Red Raider fans are tired of seeing their team “play down” to the competition. All goodwill built up after the come-from-behind victory against Houston is gone in just one week. Even in front of a full Jones AT&T stadium, the team looked flat all game. That performance can be quickly forgotten and forgiven with a decisive win. The Red Raiders should be focused and the execution should mirror that of a team that has a decided talent advantage.
Texas Tech 38, FIU 17