Texas Tech Week Five: Declaw Cats Rushing Attack

Texas Tech Week Five

Texas Tech fans better savor their recent defeat of the Texas Longhorns in a thrilling home game. And it has nothing to do with the Longhorns’ pending exit to the SEC. Texas Tech does not play another home game until October 22nd. The Red Raiders are embarking on back-to-back road games with an off week sandwiched in between. The Texas Tech week five opponent has proven to be quite a thorn in the Red Raiders’ side. Kansas State has defeated Texas Tech in six consecutive meetings and 10 times out of the last 11. But if Texas Tech can make Kansas State one-dimensional on offense, they stand an excellent chance of picking up their first road win of the season.

Don’t Let Deuce Get Loose…Again

Last year coming into the Kansas State game, the Red Raiders were coming in having dismantled in-state rival Kansas. So with momentum on their side, all they had to do was to key in All-American running back Deuce Vaughn. Spoiler alert, Deuce got loose and it led to the firing of Matt Wells. In two career games against Texas Tech, Vaughn is averaging 20.5 touches, 157 yards of total offense, and 2.5 touchdowns. He will be the best offensive player on the field this Saturday. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has to bottle him up and force the Wildcat’s quarterback to try and beat them.

Make Martinez Throw The Ball

Keeping Vaughn limited will be hard enough. However, this would be the prime opportunity this defense is looking for. Even after facing off against the best Big 12 running back last week, Texas Tech is ranked 27th nationally in rush defense. They are only allowing 99.2 yards on the ground per game. But it isn’t just Vaughn that makes this rushing attack dangerous. Quarterback Adrian Martinez is the other half of a rushing attack that ranks seventh nationally, averaging 248.2 yards per game.

Martinez is coming off a career game against Oklahoma. To date in his long college career, Martinez has not shown the ability to put an elite-level performance in consecutive weeks. So a Texas Tech week five victory can be found if the Wildcat offense is forced to move the ball through the air. The Wildcats rank 122nd nationally in passing offense. Even if the Red Raider defense can put Kansas State into obvious passing situations, the pass rush has to stay disciplined because Martinez is at his most dangerous when he can run off-script.

Red Raider Offense Has To Be Opportunistic

Last week against Texas, Texas Tech had their best offensive performance of the season. Quarterback Donovan Smith protected the ball, and was accurate from start to finish. Assuming the defense is able to limit this vaunted Wildcat rushing attack, the number of possessions in this game will be limited. In addition to the Wildcats leaning heavily on a ground game, they have attempted to convert fourth down 12 times.

But head coach Joey McGuire has already proven he is not going to squander any possessions. They are only one of three teams in FBS to have attempted to convert fourth down a whopping 15 times in just four games. A conversation rate of 60%, ranked 43rd nationally, is pretty impressive given the number of attempts. One thing that would take some pressure off of the offense would be to hit on explosive plays. Last week against Texas, Texas Tech need 100 plays on offense compared to Texas’ 60 to essentially get to the same point total. Kansas State has playmakers at all three levels on defense, so a couple of quick-hitting scores would do a lot to take the pressure off of the offense.

Texas Tech Week Five Prediction

Both teams are coming off of major emotional victories. The Wildcats came into this season as the trendy dark horse candidate to win the conference. Texas Tech, on the other hand, was picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches poll. So the Red Raiders are playing with a little bit of house money at this point. Confidence will be high on the Texas Tech sidelines. They should give the Wildcats a solid fight.

But, as the saying goes, styles make fights. The Red Raiders just have not matched up well against the Wildcats, and the roster hasn’t changed significantly to alter that. Sure, if Texas Tech were to win this, we have to have a conversation about where this team can go. But this Kansas State program will have the home crowd to feed off of. In a closely contested game, the Wildcats make the one-or-two plays that ultimately make the difference.

Kansas State 21, Texas Tech 20 

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