If you're not nervous about Saturday's game at home vs. Texas Tech, you should be. The Red Raiders appear to have a real defense for the first time I can ever remember, and of course they have a quarterback who is throwing for a ton of yards and racking up points like Collin Klein inside the 10 yard line.
Don't forget that Tommy Tuberville is 6-2 against top five teams in his coaching career, and as mentioned in the comments of yesterday's Slate, K-State lost its first game at home while going for win #8 last season with Oklahoma State on the horizon. Halloween isn't until next week, but things are already starting to get spooky.
As usual, TTU spent the nonconference part of their schedule fattening up on cupcakes like New Mexico, Northwestern State, and Texas State (shut up, Houston) so we really don't know as much about this team as we could, and their two-week home stretch of getting smoked by Oklahoma and then crushing West Virginia is one of the more befuddling in the Big 12 this year. Luckily, Seth C. of Viva The Matadors gave us some insight on what to make of these Red Raiders.
Be sure to check out his excellent and extensive previews of the game, plus my answers to his questions over at Viva The Matadors (formerly Double T Nation).
AA: Tommy Tuberville seems to be getting things done a little bit ahead of schedule down in Lubbock this year, and you've got yourselves kind of a scary team. What is he doing to make things work? Has TTU's success been a surprise for you guys as well?
Seth: To answer your last question first, heck yes it has been a surprise. I was being optimistic-fan-guy earlier in the year by predicting 7 wins and although Texas Tech isn't there yet, the prospects look better than the first of the year. As to why I think it's working, I think there is a bit of an upgrade at talent, but truthfully, that's a topic that is highly debatable. He did bring in a defensive coordinator that seemed to get along with the players and be a guy that's able to coach his players. The defense has improved, although the early season success is rubbing off a bit after playing a handful of games in the Big 12, it is better. I also thinks it helps tremendously to have a senior quarterback that has had at least a year of playing in the Big 12. Last year, QB Seth Doege looked good at times and he also looked really bad. He's had one bad game against OU, but the entire team also struggled. He was able to put that game behind him and that's something he didn't do last year.
AA: Seth Doege is still throwing it all over the field, but how much is it like Leach's spread offenses that terrorized Bill Snyder defenses by nickel-and-diming them down the field? Where does Doege rank among Texas Tech quarterbacks in, say, the last 20 years?
Seth: That's a tough question, in part because I really only started following the team in the mid-90's. I will say that he is very similar to what Texas Tech has produced in terms of a quarterback. He was recruited by Leach and Holgorsen so he is exactly that type of quarterback. When Graham Harrell was a senior and had three years to perfect his play, he was averaging about 8.2 yards per attempt and threw 5 touchdowns for every interception. Harrell was also throwing to Michael Crabtree. Doege this year is averaging 8.3 yards per attempt and is throwing 4 touchdowns for every interception. Doege is throwing about 10 less passes a game so the fact that he's able to have pretty good, or at least comparable numbers are encouraging. Doege is very accurate and has a decent deep ball and he's been able to do this by spreading the ball out to 8 to 12 receivers a game and doesn't just rely on one guy (he does have favorites) to get the job done.
AA: The other side of the ball is where Texas Tech has really been un-Leach like. You've got the #3 total defense in the league, though it's down to 6th in scoring, and it has been really good outside of games against Oklahoma and TCU last week. Is this defense for real, or is that a function of a weak schedule?
Seth: I'm still reserving some judgment, but the defense is better. The defense did hold some non-conference opponents to some pretty low yards, one being a FCS team, but the defense is more sound and is flying to the ball. I suspect that by the end of the year, the Big 12 offenses will have various amounts of success, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's all an illusion, but rather to say that the Big 12 offenses are pretty good. My expectations before the year started was hoping for a top 70 or 80 defense. My expectations on this and for the rest of the year have been exceeded.
AA: Over at BOTC, we're well aware of TTU's success against K-State in recent years, and it's making a lot of us (me included) really nervous. You've also shown the ability to take down top teams in their house before *cough* Oklahoma *cough*? Does that matter for you guys, too, and is it giving you any more confidence heading into a road game with the #3 team in the BCS standings?
Seth: Last year, Texas Tech beat a 10 win Oklahoma team, but by the end of the year it was the most unexplainable loss by a 10 win team for the entire year. I logically can't think that this win means much of anything other than the team is capable of winning on the road in a hostile environment, but this team last year also had its doors blown off on the road against UT and at home to Iowa St. and Oklahoma St. So with last year behind Texas Tech I do think that this team is a confident bunch, but there are plenty of reminders of what happened last year and the dramatic turn that the team took after beating OU. I really don't know how Texas Tech goes about beating KSU, the defense hasn't give up any points and Collin Klein has been Collin Klein. I even wrote an ode to him during the summer.
AA: You've probably noticed K-State fans have a pretty massive inferiority complex, which we believe is justified with the way we're always getting disrespected by the national media and casual college football fans. Just take a look at our preseason rankings the past two years, and don't even get me started about bowl selections. I don't want to suggest the two programs are equal, because obviously KSU has been far more nationally prominent than Tech over the last 15-20 years (and we don't talk about before Snyder unless it's to praise Snyder). But as the Red Raiders continue to establish themselves as a team capable of beating just about anyone on a given Saturday, does your fanbase feel like it gets disrespected and maybe occasionally treated like Texas' unwanted stepchild?
Seth: I never know really what to think about respect or disrespect. I don't have expectations that the national media should have been keeping tabs on Texas Tech prior to the season. The Red Raiders were going on their 4th defensive coordinator in four years and lost by an average of 30 or so points a game after beating Oklahoma. Personally, I have no problem with the national media being doubtful because I am, to an extent, still doubtful as to how this season plays out. I think that this is now a 8 to 9 win team, but I don't believe that any game left on the schedule is guaranteed. I think that's my own confidence issues moreso than the team's or the fans' confidence. I do think that they get a kick out of being doubted and after last year, it's a welcome change to the fans not believing what's happening. The respect will happen, but respect is not a season of success, but a sustained success over the course of a handful of seasons. I'm very much ready for that.