Following a 59-3 win over UTEP to open the season, the Longhorns will now turn their attention to Big 12 play. The original 2020 schedule had Texas traveling to Manhattan to face off against Kansas State to open conference play, but the re-worked schedule now has the Longhorns traveling to Lubbock to face Texas Tech. The Red Raiders enter the game at 1-0 following a nail-biting win against FCS Houston Baptist, but Matt Wells’ team will provide a much stiffer test than what the Longhorns faced a few weeks ago. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Red Raiders:
As is the case with Texas Tech most years, they will not have many issues moving the ball. Starting QB Alan Bowman is back behind center after missing most of the 2019 season with an injury. Texas has been fortunate to miss facing him the past 2 seasons, but the redshirt sophomore is fully healthy and one of the better QB’s in the Big 12. Bowman picked apart Houston Baptist for 430 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He is not much of a threat with his legs, but has a big arm and is very comfortable in David Yost’s offense.
Earlier in the week, it was announced that starting RB SaRodorick Thompson was arrested from a street racing incident that occurred this past summer. All indications are Thompson will be available and play against Texas, and the Red Raiders offense will certainly need him. Thompson rushed for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns in the season opener and is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.
The Red Raiders are talented and deep at the receiver position. TJ Vasher, Erik Ezukanma and KeSean Carter all return after productive seasons in 2019. The trio combined for 18 catches in week 1 and will challenge the Texas DB’s all afternoon.
On the offensive line, the player to watch is guard Jack Anderson, who missed 9 games in 2019 due to an injury but is back in the starting lineup. Anderson is an all-conference player who the Red Raiders will lean on when they need to open up holes in the running game. At the two tackle spots, Texas Tech is breaking in two new starters who Texas will look to attack off the edge. Against UTEP, the Longhorns saw a game plan that got the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly to help mitigate the pass rush and I would expect a similar game plan for the Red Raiders, who will want to test Texas out in space and see if any of the tackling issues from last season are still lingering.
The Red Raiders were shredded through the air by Houston Baptist, surrendering 572 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Huskies had receivers running open all evening and the Texas Tech secondary did not adjust. Keith Patterson is in his second year as the defensive coordinator and if one game was any indication, there was zero improvement from year 1 to year 2, and year 1 did not go well. Despite the impending staff changes hanging over their heads, Texas still put up 49 points against his defense in the regular season finale last year.
The few bright spots for the Texas Tech defense are DE Eli Howard and LB Riko Jeffers. Howard led the Red Raiders in 2019 with 5 sacks and is a solid pass rusher. Jeffers was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection and was second on the team in tackles with 76.
Texas Tech will provide a much tougher test than what UTEP provided the Longhorns several weeks ago, but this is still a game Texas should be able to control. Assuming the defensive improvements shown in Week 1 carry over, Chris Ash’s defense should be able to get enough stops to allow Sam Ehlinger and company to take over the game.
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