September 13, 2012
By Adam Rosen
1. SLING THE BALL AROUND
Texas quarterbacks David Ash and Case McCoy can both say they torched the New Mexico secondary this season. The Longhorn quarterbacks combined to go 21 of 30 (70 percent) for 285 yards, three touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 182.8 against the Lobos last week in Austin.
If UT's signal callers were able to abuse UNM's defense, what will a guy like Seth Doege be able to accomplish?
It was just last season, against these same Lobos, where Doege set an NCAA record for completion percentage (90.9 percent) in a single game. One year later, the Tech gunslinger seems poised to ensure that trend continues.
Last week against Texas State, Neal Brown opened up the offense in the first half with a pass/run distribution of 23 to 8 (74.2 percent passes), which had the Red Raiders leading 38-10 at halftime. After Tech's first possession in the second half, it essentially iced the game by going up 45-10 on the Bobcats while pushing their pass/run distribution up 29 to 9 (75.7 percent passes). From that point on the Red Raiders coasted with a balanced offense of 16 to 14 (53.3 percent passes) the rest of the game.
If Brown continues the aggressive play calling we saw last weekend, and Doege is able to connect on a few passes, the celebration on Broadway will get off to a very early start Saturday evening.
2. BACKFIELD PENETRATION
Tech's defense has been mind-blowingly stout thus far in the 2012 season with drastic improvements across the board. However, the verdict is still out on their ability to create negative yardage plays on a consistent basis.
Despite ranking fourth overall in total defense and seventh overall in scoring defense, the Red Raiders are 74th and 76th in sacks and tackles for loss at this juncture in the season. Surprisingly, there wasn't a whole lot accomplished last week against Texas State in those two areas, as the Northwestern State game accounts for all three of their sacks and nine of the 10 TFL this season.
Saturday's contest against the Lobos could be a prime opportunity for Tech to boost their totals in both categories. The Lobo's projected starter at quarterback will be either be a hobbled B.R. Holbrook or a true freshman.
Art Kaufman's boys will be able to pin their ears back and attack whoever the signal caller is for New Mexico's one dimensional offense, which should result in a few extra plays made behind the line of scrimmage.
3. INJURY FREE
It's no secret the Red Raiders battled injuries constantly throughout the 2011 season. With conference play on the horizon and a schedule where Tech's first six conference games could go either way for the Red Raiders, Tommy Tuberville's squad desperately needs to get to their bye week unscathed.
Some positions, like the wide receiver unit, will be alright moving forward if they lose a key guy -- see Eric Ward from last weekend. However, the offense line and secondary are the two positions where quality, proven depth is scarce and Tech will need healthy platoons in those areas if they want any type of chance to make it through the gauntlet schedule in conference.
This isn't necessarily a traditional stat per se, but Tech would like to see a post-game report with zero players from the two-deep noted for injuries.