Texas Tech lived up to their name just two weeks ago as the Red Raiders stormed Norman, Oklahoma and pillaged the town. Tech threw all over the No. 3 ranked Sooners, defeating them 41-38 in a game that was not that close for the most part (at one point in the second half Tech led 31-7) and ending a 39-game Oklahoma home winning streak with 441 yards passing.
Then the Big 12 super power, Iowa State, came to Lubbock and turned the lights out on the Red Raiders, beating them 41-7 on their own home field. It was the classic egg-laying the Red Raiders have been known for.
Now Texas Tech comes to Austin. Which set of
pirates (oh that’s right, they’re not Mike Leach pirates anymore), Raiders will show up? The Longhorns better be ready for the team that burned down the Sooners. “We'll definitely see Tech at their best,” said Mack Brown in his pre-game press conference. “We'll see the team that went to Norman, we will not see the team that played Iowa State.”
"We're a team that could win the last five games, we're a team that could lose the last five games.” - Mack Brown
Only two Big 12 rivals lost to the Horns last year, Texas Tech was one of them. That fact certainly sticks in their craw, but probably not as much as wanting to redeem themselves after that embarrassing loss to Iowa State. Texas knows a little something about that.
The Longhorns are in a good place though. One more win and they get to play in a bowl game. The team was last involved in a bowl game way back in January, 2010—Colt McCoy, Garrett Gilbert, Alabama… you know the story. Bowl games are good motivators, and if Head Coach Mack Brown can somehow win out these last five games, the Horns could play in a good one. “This step gives [the team] an opportunity to do something last year's team didn't do,” said Brown. “They're already at the same number of wins that the entire team won last year, so from this point forward, let's step it up and make sure we finish strong. And I told them, we're a team that could win the last five games, we're a team that could lose the last five games.”
This new breed of Longhorns (not calling them young’uns anymore, they’ve earned some stripes) have the motivation and the talent to do that.
Here’s what I’m looking for Saturday against Texas Tech:
“These are not video games,” said Brown. “You're working with human beings. They've got girlfriends that break up with them, they've got class, they've got a final.
Score when you get close: The Longhorns are awful when they get inside the 20-yard line. This season, Texas is scoring touchdowns just over 30 percent of the time in the red zone; that's terrible. Even against lowly Kansas they scored only four touchdowns in eight trips to the red zone. David Ash missed on a quarterback sneak and threw an interception in the end zone. Can’t happen. You can beat Kansas that way, but you will never beat the Red Raiders that way.
Speaking of turnovers… jeez: Stop it, stop it right now. The Longhorn offense lost two more turnovers last week. This is getting ridiculous. The QB must make better decisions and running backs must take care of the ball. The defense picked up a couple turnovers last week, but they also had a shot at three more and whiffed. Turnovers haunt good teams… so stop it. Seriously.
Pressure Seth Doege, shut down Tech’s running game and kill the screen pass: The Tech QB is good, really good, ranked No. 7 in the country good. “Seth can throw the ball as well as anybody in America,” said Brown. “We talk about the great quarterbacks in this league, after watching him the last two days you have to put him in that same category.” Texas must force the Tech QB into throwing the ball long. By the way, he’s really good at that, but long throws create opportunities for Texas' great cornerbacks to make plays. “We've got to get pressure this week. This will be really interesting. We got pressure on Kansas, and it was hard because they didn't throw it that much. This bunch will have plenty of opportunities. We have got to get pressure on Seth. We cannot let him stand back there and throw the ball. When he does, he's nearly 70 percent [in] completions.” 70 percent... yikes.
Mack Brown says the team gained a lot of confidence out of the Kansas game, and they’ll need it. He also said something very personal and introspective about coaching college football players. As much as we fans sweat out games, get upset with poor play, yell at opposing QBs, we should also remember these are 19 and 20-year old college students. “These are not video games,” said Brown.
“You're working with human beings. They've got girlfriends that break up with them, they've got class, they've got a final. I rode up with a young student, she had her notes and her hands were sweating and she was shaking and I said, ‘Where are you headed?’ She said, ‘Coach, I've got a huge test.’ And I said, ‘Me, too. Mine is Saturday. But I've got a few more days to study.’ We all have our pressures, and it is hard for young people to play hard 12 times and be focused. And they try, but sometimes it's just not there. Your biggest fear as a coach is that your team will not play their best.”