Know Thy Enemy: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Thanks a million to all of the folks over at Double T Nation, who run the finest Texas Tech blog on the internets. Honestly, pay the site a nice, long visit; it's worth it.

1) Texas Tech's defense appears to be improved thus far this year, but the offense hasn't looked as outright-dominant in the past couple of games (specifically against NU). Do you think the offense has regressed at all, or is it just a two-game-fluke?

The perspective that Texas Tech's offense has fallen off is almost exactly opposite the truth. TTU's offense seems more dangerous than ever because, for the first time in the Leach era, the running game is able to fight for downs. Baron Batch is averaging over 7.5 yards per carry and Shannon Woods is averaging over 5 yards. They split between 20 and 25 carries a game. In addition, 7 players have 10 or more catches and 10 have 5 or more.

In fact, Nebraska was our best offensive output of the season, averaging 8.8 yards per play. The only mistake our offense made that day was a 3 and out at a very inopportune moment in the 3rd quarter. Against A&M, we took a page out of Nebraska's book and played ball-control offense to finish the game, pairing a 4 minute drive with a 7 minute drive late. The first half struggles were due to a couple of turnovers as the offense was getting going. I don't expect to see those turnovers weekly, though.

2) Getting back to the defense, what has been the number one reason for its' improvement? Or would you say it hasn't improved at all?

The defense has improved since last year, but it has also regressed, in a sense. It starts with the defensive line: they are playing at a much higher level than we've had under Leach. This gives us a shot at stopping our opponent's running games and putting pressure back on the quarterback. Our defensive performance against KSU was wholly the results of a defensive line that was teeing off to rush the quarterback. That said, the d-line often doesn't have enough time to get to the quarterback because our secondary is just begging opposing receivers to catch wide-open passes with quick throws to the flats and over the middle.

3) Taking Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree out of the equation, who is Tech's most dominant offensive presence and why?

Baron Batch, a running back. Surprising? Yes, but Baron has been fantastic at busting open big gains. The thing that most sets him apart from Shannon Woods is the way he is tackled. When Woods is contacted, he tries to spin out and winds up trying to fight for more yards by going backwards. When Baron Batch is hit, he is barreling forward, picking up the extra yard or two. It's a trait that I've seen in a lot of great running backs and his power oriented mindset fits in well with what TTU needs at running back.

4) What do you think about Vegas favoring the Jayhawks (the early line was Kansas giving up 2 points, I believe)? If you are Mike Leach, would you put it up on the billboard, considering that you are the Top 10 team?

TTU's had plenty of billboard material over the course of the season. The players have said that they watch ESPN to see the "experts" pick against the team. It helps them keep things in perspective. That said, I try to minimize the effect of what outside influences are saying. The team has had a habit in the past of letting people get to them and I really don't want anyone, positive or negative, to effect the mindset of my team.

5) Texas Tech wins because...

They can contain and pressure Reesing both with a good defensive line effort and by putting together drives that are longer than Kansas's.

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Thanks again to the folks over at DTN for their answers.

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