After just passing the halfway point of the season, the Texas Tech vs. Kansas game comes at a great time for the Red Raiders. To say the homecoming game was a disappointment would be an understatement. Texas Tech sits at 4-2, but is about to embark on a very back-loaded Big 12 schedule. Can the Red Raiders take one step closer to achieving bowl eligibility for the first time since 2017?
When Texas Tech Is On Offense
Kansas should not provide much resistance to a rushing attack that has been consistent all season. SaRodorick Thompson achieved quite the career milestone last week against TCU.
While Thompson likely won’t catch Taurean Henderson, who owns the record with 50 career rushing touchdowns, if Thompson averages a touchdown a game for the rest of the season, he would finish his career 5th overall in rushing touchdowns. Between Thompson and Xavier White, they will continue to lead a rushing attack that is averaging 140.67 yards a game and just over 2.5 rushing touchdowns in Big 12 play. Tahj Brooks continues to be “day-to-day” and his status for the Kansas game still is unclear.
The Red Raider passing attack has left much to be desired. Quarterback Henry Colombi has yet to crack the 350 yards passing mark in a game this season and does not have a touchdown pass in his last two games. Even more concerning was the lack of involvement of Erik Ezukanma after returning from a concussion. Prior to last week, Ezukanma had not received less than seven targets in a game, which came in the FIU game.
In every other game in which the game was still in the balance, he had received 10 targets. Against TCU, he was only targeted four times. Tech has attempted at least 34 passes in every Big 12 game and Ezukanma should still get 9-11 targets at a minimum every game. Even with the emergence of Kaylon Geiger, the passing offense needs to go through Ezukanma. Expect a concerted effort to get him the ball this week.
When Texas Tech Is On Defense
One stat is the most telling for this defense through six games. In the four wins, they are surrending on average 64.25 rushing yards per game. In the two losses, they are surrending 366 rushing yards per game. Head coach Matt Wells addressed that the defense needs to do a better job of getting off blocks and having better run fits. Why do run fits matter?
When a defender is occupying a gap that a running back is trying to go through, the running back can’t just put his foot in the ground and run. Good fun fits make the running back go more side-to-side instead of north and south. Certainly, if a rushing attack is going sideline-to-sideline it isn’t moving the ball forward. The part that has been so disheartening in the two losses that when Texas and TCU were in obvious rushing situations, not only could they not be stopped, but would rip off 40, 50, 60 yard touchdown runs untouched.
The good news is this week Texas Tech is facing a rushing attack that ranks 82nd in the country averaging only 149 yards per game. The defense should have a much easier time at getting off of blocks this week. Kansas ranks 96th in the country in average number of tackles for losses allowed. They are giving up over 6.5 tackles for loss on average. This is a prime week for the Red Raider defense to get back to playing fast and swarm to the football. Last time the defense had to respond after a demoralizing defeat, Colin Schooler responded with a performance good enough for Big 12 defensive player of the week.
Texas Tech Vs. Kansas Prediction
There should be an expectation by Red Raiders nation when Texas Tech vs. Kansas kicks off, the team that responded after the Texas game should be present against the Jayhawks. It is homecoming for Kansas, and they are breaking out some sharp-looking alternate uniforms for it. However, ask Texas Tech how well the cool alternate uniforms boost performance at homecoming. The Red Raiders control this one from beginning to end and get one step away from punching its post-season ticket.
Texas Tech 45, Kansas 18