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Texas Tech Aims For Bowl Eligibility Against Kansas State

The Red Raider tailgate for the Texas Tech vs. Kansas State kickoff will bring eggs, bacon, tortillas, and the hope of an elusive sixth win. The Wildcats come to Lubbock reeling having lost three straight games and are winless in Big 12 play. Will the Red Raiders be able to keep the Wildcats tamed?

When Texas Tech Is On Offense

The Kansas State defense has surrendered at least 30 points in all of their three Big 12 games this year. Texas Tech is currently averaging 32.5 points per game in Big 12 play. The Wildcat defense has been getting pushed around against the run. No team in Big 12 play has had to attempt more than 23 passes in any game due to controlling the game on the ground. This plays nicely into the hands of what this Red Raider offense wants to do this season. The Red Raiders have had a minimum of 30 rushing attempts in every Big 12 game so far. The rushing attack has continued to roll with last week’s thumping of Kansas. Texas Tech has been averaging 167 yards per game in conference play.

The rushing attack is led by SaRodorick Thompson, who has been electric since getting healthy and resuming the lead-back role in the backfield. He has been averaging 5.14 yards per carry and has totaled five touchdowns since Big 12 play started. Tahj Brooks, who hasn’t been on the field since the FIU game due to a leg injury, still remains questionable for this week’s game. The rushing game also has been getting a boost from the quarterback position.

Donovan Smith has been worked into the offense since Big 12 play started. Last week against Kansas, Tech had nine “full” possessions (not including the kneel down at end of the game). Smith came in on six of those drives and saw a career-high in touches with 11 (six rushes, five pass attempts). The 6’5” 230 lbs redshirt freshman quarterback appears to not to be going anywhere either, according to the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal.

Wells said that’s a baseline for Smith’s playing time. “It’s certinaly not going to be less; I can tell you that,” [Wells] said.

Credit: Lubbock- Avalanche Journal

It still is going to be Henry Colombi who is starting for the injured Tyler Shough, who continues to rehab from a broken collarbone. Colombi has been solid in relief of Shough, but it’s clear that the offense is at its best when he is not asked to lead the offense. Colombi put up his biggest numbers against Texas and TCU when Tech has had to play catch up in the game. But an ideal offensive attack would be to rely on the rushing offense and attempt 25-30 passes.

When Texas Tech Is On Defense

Texas Tech has to account for standout running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaugh leads the Wildcats with 777 all-purpose yards on offense and seven total touchdowns. In two Big 12 wins, the Red Raiders only yield an average of 119.5 yards rushing by the opposing team. But in their two losses, they have surrendered a putrid average of 365 yards rushing. The Texas Tech defensive front seven has to control the line of scrimmage for multiple reasons, not just to limit this potentially explosive running attack.

This Kansas State passing attack would not be described as high-flying. The Wildcats are only averaging 194.8 yards passing per game, which ranks 101st in the country. But no matter how poorly the passing attack might be, a passing attack that faces no pressure puts the secondary in a bad position. Texas Tech only has three sacks in four Big 12 games, including a current two-game sackless streak. Texas Tech only ranks 66th in the country in average tackle for losses per game. In Big 12 play, they are only averaging 3.75 tackles for loss per game. In games when the “on-paper” talent is equal, it’s up to the defensive front to step up and create more pressure for this defense.

Texas Tech vs. Kansas State Prediction

Kansas State has won five straight games against Texas Tech. There isn’t a good rhyme or reason why the Wildcats have established a lengthy winning streak against the Red Raiders. The average margin of defeat during this winning steak has been 8.2 points, so these games have continuously been tight. This is the exact opportunity for a program that has been down can turn the corner. Texas Tech controls this one on the ground, Donovan Smith continues to work his way into being a more predominant player, and the defense secures bowl eligibility with a late turnover.

Texas Tech 30, Kansas State 24

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