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Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2005

The Other Side: Kansas could contain Tech’s big-time offense

October 1, 2005

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Texas Tech broke 50 points against Florida International, broke 60 against Indiana State and broke 80 against Sam Houston State. The Red Raiders can make a more convincing case that all that offense is for real if they break 40 tonight against Kansas University. Hey, only one team did last year. Only one team, Oklahoma, scored more than 31 against the Jayhawks, who play better defense than offense.

I'd say that's the reverse of what you normally see from programs perpetually stuck in just-below-.500 mode. It's my impression that four- and five-win teams usually boast some scary offensive skill position players but just get run all over by the real contenders. KU's been the opposite - at least since the start of last season. The Jayhawks would have won more games if their offense could give a good, but overworked defense, more help.

The Raiders, playing their fourth straight home game, are favored by 19 points, which is a big number to cover against this opponent. When has Tech had an easy game with Kansas? None of the last three times: Tech has won 45-39 and 31-30 and lost 34-31 in double overtime.

I'd take Tech to win by 10.

Make no mistake. Tech coach Mike Leach will keep the heat on his offensive guys this week to get better. Publicly, Leach was annoyed by the play of his second- and third-stringers in the second half last week. Privately, he wasn't overjoyed with the starters either. They got it rolling for a stretch in the second quarter, but Leach still found flaws. Receivers running too many sloppy routes. Too much dancing, not enough straight-ahead running by players with the ball in their hands. A blitzing linebacker coming free up the middle to blast Cody Hodges. Even in a 35-point second quarter, there wasn't the attention to detail and precise execution Leach expects.

Example: First play of the second quarter, Hodges and Jarrett Hicks miss by the slimmest of margins trying to hook up on a deep ball. Slightly overthrown is how it looked from the stands. But the air under the ball was just right, said Leach, who wondered if Hicks couldn't have done something more precise in his route to make it a home-run ball touchdown.

Example two: Midway through the second quarter, with Tech at the Indiana State 4, Marquis Johnson doesn't get the correct release on his route, and Hodges' pass into the end zone sails harmlessly past.

Of course, in both cases, Tech went on and scored six later in the series.

It's the kind of stuff a team can get away with against Division I-AA opposition. Against the Big 12 Conference, the Raiders won't be working with so much margin for error.

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