September 06, 2012
By Adam Rosen
1. RUSHING YARDS
Texas State racked up 248 rushing yards and possessed the ball for a little over 43 minutes last week against Houston. Texas Tech, meanwhile, will be looking to carry their dominating week one performance into San Marcos and shut down the Bobcats ground game.
Specifically, limiting Texas State's rushing production on first down will be the key component for the Red Raiders.
The Bobcats ran the ball 27 times out of 36 total first down plays last Saturday. To slow down Texas State's spread option and dull the effectiveness of dual threat quarterback Shaun Rutherford, Tech will need to stuff the rush on first down to prevent an open playbook and extended drives.
It is worth noting that on pass plays following a rushing attempt on first down, Rutherford was 5-of-5 for 58 yards against Houston. Three of those plays resulted in a first down, one play set up third and short that the Bobcats converted and the other play left them with a third and long, which they failed to convert.
When Texas State did decide to pass on first down, they were 6-of-9 for 63 yards or 10.5 yards per completion.
The Red Raiders must be vigilant in stopping the run but also avoid giving up big chunks through the air.
2. TURNOVER BATTLE
Texas State is going to have to play perfect against the Red Raiders to be victorious, and I think most will agree with that notion. This is where Tech's defense can put the nail in the coffin against a lesser opponent by forcing turnovers and getting the ball back for their offense.
If for some reason the 'Chain Gang' can't come up with big plays, then it will be on Seth Doege and the offense to take care of the football.
The Red Raiders must avoid any extreme lows in the turnover margin. Otherwise, as odd as this feels to say, the Bobcats could smell blood in the water and get on a roll, similar to the way Iowa State did in 2011 when the Red Raiders turned the ball over twice in the first quarter.
On the road, against a hyped fan base and confident team, turnovers can either crush the opponent's spirits or put your squad on upset alert. Which one will it be on Saturday?
3. EXPLOSIVE PASSING PLAYS
Last year against Texas State, Tech produced ten explosive passing plays (20 yards or more) en route to a 50-10 romp.
Darrin Moore accounted for six of those plays while torturing the Bobcats secondary for 221 yards and one touchdown on 12 catches. Alex Torres accounted for two explosive passing plays, while Tramain Swindall and Cornelius Douglas each had one.
After such a monstrous one game total, the Tech offense managed only 40 more explosive games over the next 11 games and finished 19th overall in the country in that category, despite being second overall in passing attempts. For comparison sake, Missouri finished tied with the Red Raiders in explosive plays but had 216 less passing attempts for the entire season.
The lack of big play ability seemed to cause the offense to bog down at times throughout the 2011 season. Tech only recorded three explosive passing plays last week against Northwestern State. Even though the Neal Brown's play calling was very conservative, it was still concerning to see this trend seep into the 2012 season.
Tech has a number of versatile weapons at wide reciever that can hurt opponents in many different ways. With a full arsenal returning this Saturday for Doege, you should be able to expect a little more pizazz from this high octane offense.
Moore, coming off a one game suspension, could be ready to explode into a repeat performance from last season.