It's another week and the Red Raiders are riding into town. Texas Tech also carries a 3-3 record overall and a less-than-stellar conference record at 1-3. At least they have a win. And for the Buffs to get their first conference victory, they have to contain yet another explosive offense. The Red Raiders may not be quite the offense they were last year, but they can still score points with the best of them. If Taylor Potts' jaw is OK (and it should be) we have to face a QB who knows how to move the ball around. At least he isn't as good with his feet as the last QB we matched up against.
More analysis after the jump
Texas Tech comes into the game averaging more than 33 points per game. Aside from Cal, we've held teams below their season points averages, and we will need to that again to be successful. If Jimmy Smith plays we'll have a solid chance to slow down the TTU wide receivers. If he doesn't, it'll be a lot harder for our already makeshift secondary to pick up the slack. I'm not as worried about defending the down-the-field game, but I think we were shown to be quite susceptible to quick passes out wide.
If Ron Collins allows our DBs to press the TTU wide receivers on the line, we may have some more success slowing down their passing game. Of course, they will probably attack our Defense over the middle, which teams like Georgia and Hawaii were able to do. Our redzone defense will have to hold, because the Red Raiders will eat up large chunks of yards. If we can force their icker out onto the field at the end of drives, we'll have a solid chance to outscore them. And to win, we WILL have to outscore them.
I think we will be able to shut down some of the Red Raider running game. Not that you want to force TTU to pass the ball...Will Pericak and Curtis Cunningham will do their thing in the middle, and I think they will work hard to make sure that nobody runs through our defense like Griffin and co. did last week. There's a chance we will get Travis Sandersfeld back, and we can only hope that he is healthy for tomorrow. His return would help our defense in the middle of the field quite a bit.
Matchups I'm Watching:
-Baron Batch vs. Jon Major and Michael Sipili
These guys can't be all that happy with their performance against Baylor, and I think they take it out against Batch. They did land some huge shots on Griffin when they could get to him, and they'll be able to get to Batch quite a bit more than that. I think we hold the Red Raiders to less than 100 yards rushing in the game, and I think Major and Sipili lead the charge to shut them down.
-Taylor Potts vs. CU Secondary
This guy can sling the ball around. Sure, the ‘system' has something to do with it, but it doesn't mean he isn't effective. This season, he has cut down on his interceptions by quite a bit, but that doesn't mean he isn't vulnerable to turnovers. We might have more success forcing him to fumble than picking him off, but he isn't invincible. Having Smith available to play will help, but he may not be good to go. That means guys like Jered Bell again, Deji Olatoye, Terrel Smith and the non-freshmen have to step up. It won't be easy against an Offense like this, so it's something I'll be watching a lot.
-Ray Polk vs. Ray Polk
He might be the fastest defensive player we have in a dead sprint, but he's still thinking out there. He has shown the ability to knock guys on their butts and close quickly, but he isn't always there to do that. He has been improving, though. With Perkins out, Polk is now the guy at Safety, and he is going to have to continue to step up his game tomorrow.
Can we finally put it all together? We finally got our talented wide receivers involved last week, and Rodney Stewart had another 100 yard game. Can the playcalling improve any faster? There were signs of Kiseau figuring things out last week. Can Hansen regain some of his pocket awareness? These are all questions that won't get answered until tomorrow.
The one thing we know is that we will continue to feed the ball to Stewart. Anyone else notice we are one of the nation's leaders in time of possession? Not that it really matters, but it is one sign that we are staying dedicated to the run game. All we need now is for our offensive coordinator to figure out how to use that to help the passing game. C'mon play action passes! They work, they really do, OC. Everyone will benefit.
I do appreciate the fact that they effectively were able to incorporate the tight ends into the passing attack. DaVaughn Thornton finally got a ball thrown his way, and hopefully that'll continue this week. How can you not pass the ball to him? Same with Toney Clemons. I still don't get why Clemons only gets the number of balls thrown his way that he does. He and Paul Richardson can both get up and fight for a pass, and Clemons still isn't being sent deep often enough for my tastes.
But in the end, it all comes down to Tyler Hansen. He completed a high percentage of his passes last week, and has all season, but he hasn't been as accurate as that would indicate. He is still missing guys and forcing his receivers to make big adjustments to be able to catch his passes. But we've seen him make very accurate passes and get the ball into some very small windows, which is why I'm being hard on him. He can do it, he just needs to settle down and throw the ball to the spots where his receivers will be. He can do it. He's been forcing the ball far too often this season, so hopefully he can calm down tomorrow.
Matchups I'm Watchings:
-Mike Iltis, Ethan Adkins and Ryan Miller vs. Colby Whitlock and his buddies
Whitlock is good, and TTU will be rotating guys in along the defensive line. Our Interior linemen take a while to get into a rhythm each game, which won't work against Texas Tech. These guys need to keep the pocket from collapsing on Hansen so that he can move around. If he can't take a step forward, he won't be nearly as effective. It's on these guys to keep the center of the pocket strong.
-Rodney Stewart vs. 30 carries
He is our workhorse back this season. So far he is holding up just fine. Can you really limit his carries when he is as effective as he is? I say no. He followed his blocks well last week and is really turning into a reliable running back. I'm just fine with Stewart getting thirty carries again this week, but what happens if something happens? We want to keep the TTU Offense off the field as much as possible, but at what cost? Feh. I think he gets close to thirty carries again this week, and I see another 100 yard game again this week. But we will have another five games in which we'll need him. Oy. Stay healthy, Mr. Stewart.
-Matt Bahr vs. CU's conventional Tight Ends
Anyone else notice how many non-short yardage snaps Bahr logged against Baylor? It's not surprising, considering he's significantly better at runblocking than the rest of CU's tight ends, but it limits how deceptive our offense can be. He may be a better blocker, but he isn't nearly the pass-catcher or route runner that guys like Luke Walters and DaVaughn Thornton are. Either they need to improve their blocking or Bahr needs to develop some wheels, because his increased presence might not be the best thing. Yes, on obvious running plays it is an advantage to have an extra offensive lineman in the game, but what about the rest of the time? We've got to be careful about telegraphing our plays. You notice how many times we seem predictable on offense or someone makes a comment about teams knowing what's coming? Yeah, me too.
You may remember me as the blog optimist. Well this team is doing everything it can do take that title away from me, but I won't let it! I predicted (at the tailgate, not online) a close loss to Baylor, but this week I think CU goes back above .500. I mean, we better, right? There aren't too many other games that look winnable on the schedule. I think we eek this one out. Our defense can slow them down a little bit, and I think we will be able to score against them. I think we finally score a (planned) long TD to Clemons or Travon Patterson late in the game and we win it 33 to 29.