It's been a great week of back and forth this week as we prepare for this weekend's K-State/Texas Tech tilt. Seth over at Double T Nation was kind enough to answer some specific questions about Texas Tech and this weekend's game for us. He also posed a few questions to me, and my answers can be found here.
BOTC: Texas Tech's first four games have been kind of languid, by Tech's standards. We haven't seen any 700 yard or 70+ point games. Is this a sign that things are different in a good way -- playing better defense, more commitment to the running game -- or a bad way -- the offense just isn't as explosive as it used to be?
Seth: Those are the two factions among Texas Tech fans. On one hand you have the silver-lining crowd that thinks that things have changed. As you stated, a more committed running game and a stingier defense that has allowed few points against non-conference opponents. All of this, as you well know, is that it's against non-conference opponents that Texas Tech should beat, which leads to the other faction. This faction believes that the Texas Tech offense is uncharacteristically stagnant and only really found their groove against UMass. Harrell's been a bit off to date and the defense has given up too many yards for this set of fans to believe that things have dramatically changed under Ruffin McNeill. I think Saturday's game will tell us quite a bit in terms of where the defense actually is and whether or not the offense really is on track.
BOTC: The Tech offense gets all the credit, but who do we need to look out for on the defensive side of the ball for the Red Raiders?
Seth: The defense is playing quite a few more folks, especially on the line, trying to get as many snaps for guys like DE McKinner Dixon, DE/DT Brandon Sesay and DT Chris Perry, all first year players. Thus far, perhaps the biggest difference makers have been LB Brian Duncan, DE Brandon Williams and McKinner Dixon up front. In the defensive backfield, Daniel Charbonnet with his 1 million interceptions thus far has been a nice surprise and although the majority of his interceptions were against SMU's freshman quarterback, that shouldn't diminish the fact that he's shown the ability to be in the right place at the right time and is a guy that makes plays. I'm concerned as to whether or not Duncan gets to see the field as much as I like because Texas Tech will play the nickel with the 3-wideout set that KSU likes to play, so his effectiveness might take a hit. I'd also watch out for Daniel Howard, who will stand-up along the line in certain packages and just rush the passer. He could have a pretty big game if Texas Tech is able to pull off a victory.
BOTC: Is it in Mike Leach's constitution to run the ball 50 times? Will his ego shrivel up and die if he does so?
Seth: No, it's not and traditionally, I might agree with you, but Leach's philosphy has always been to score as much as possible and if defenses are adjusting to the Air-Raid offense by dropping 7 or 8 defenders, he is making the adjustment, as is QB Graham Harrell at the line of scrimmage and running the ball. If the offense scores, I think it doesn't matter if it's running the ball or passing the ball. I don't think that Leach will ever abandon the spread with the pass-first option and I'd be shocked to see the day where Texas Tech runs the ball 50% of the time, but as teams adjust it's a nice option to have.
BOTC: You've probably noticed a lot of doom-and-gloom from us this week. Is there anything about K-State that opposing fans fear right now?
Seth: Personally, yes, I'm afraid and I'm probably going to be afraid for just about every game from this point forward, even if it's supposed to be an "easy" win. There's no such thing with Texas Tech and I've looked back at the previous years for Texas Tech and under Leach's tenure, there is always a loss to a team that the Red Raiders shouldn't lose. It's incredibly frustrating. I think I've read somewhere that Texas Tech is 1-6 on the road against the spread. As the week started, the Red Raiders were giving up 7 and I think Vegas may be right on this. It's Texas Tech's first big test, on the road against a team that can score. As far as actual players, a big strong-armed quarterback like Freeman, along with Banks is a lethal combination, especially at home. If KSU gets on a roll, and they're more than capable of doing so, then it could get ugly.
BOTC: In this game, Texas Tech will...
Seth: Win, but I'm not predicting a blow-out. It will be closer than Texas Tech fans will like, but I'm convinced that KSU will show up ready to play. Although I can't say that I follow K-State as close as you, but with every loss, Prince's seat heats up and I think his players and his coaches will be incredibly motivated on Saturday.
Thanks again to Seth for taking the time. Check out Double T Nation for a ton more information about Tech and this weekend's game.