Colorado is halfway through the 2010 season – exactly half if there is to be no bowl game …

Which is looking all the more likely after the Buffs fell at home, 31-25, to Baylor last weekend to fall to 3-3 on the season.

Texas Tech comes to Boulder for CU’s Homecoming this Saturday. If the Buffs cannot handle the Red Raiders, Colorado would have to win three of its final five games just to become bowl-eligible, and the Buffs have not won on the road since defeating Texas Tech in Lubbock in October, 2007.

Suffice it to say, if the University of Colorado is to go bowling and have a winning season in 2010, a win over 3-3 Texas Tech is a must win.

Breaking down the Colorado / Texas Tech game, here are this week’s “T.I.P.S.”:

T – Talent

When Tommy Tuberville was hired as the new Texas Tech head coach, he indicated that he was not going to be a strict disciple of the pass happy offense of his predecessor, Mike Leach.

Mission only partially accomplished.

Texas Tech has been ranked first, second, or third in the nation in passing each of the past eight seasons, including being ranked first six times. In 2009, Texas Tech was ranked 2nd in the nation in passing, but ranked 115th in rushing. This season, with Tommy Tuberville at the helm, the Red Raiders are ranked …

… 6th in passing; 95th in rushing. Mark that as a moderate move towards a balanced offense.

“Our offensive line, since they’ve been here, they haven’t been on a team that tried to run the ball much, so it’s changing a language,” said Tommy Tuberville. “You’ve got to slowly learn it, get better at it, and get more physical.” Midway through the 2010 season, Tuberville likes what he sees. “I like the progress,” said Tuberville. “It’s really helped us in a few of the games that we’ve played because its slowed the pass rush down, and that’s the reason we’re doing it – to give the quarterback a little more time to throw the football and be able to run some play action.”

While the Red Raider rushing attack has yet to take the Big 12 by storm (114.8 yards per game, last in the league), the passing attack is as good as ever. Senior quarterback Taylor Potts is 9th in the nation in total offense, generating 307 yards per game (for comparison’s sake, Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen is 78th in the nation in total offense, at just over 180 yards per game). Potts is connecting on two-thirds of his pass attempts, has 18 touchdowns, but only four interceptions.

Potts has four receivers who are averaging over four catches per game, led by senior Lyle Leong, who has 37 catches for 489 yards and nine touchdowns (Scotty McKnight for Colorado has 26 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Buffs).

When Texas Tech does try to run the ball, look for senior running back Baron Batch, who has 359 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

Texas Tech scores early, and scores often. Only twice this season have the Red Raiders been held under 35 points – 14 by Texas; 17 by Oklahoma State – both losses. Overall, Texas Tech is ranked 29th in the nation, scoring over 33 points per game. The offense, as is usually the case in Lubbock, has been prolific.

Then why is Texas Tech 3-3, 1-3 in Big 12 play?

Because the Red Raiders also give up yards – and points – in bunches.

While Texas Tech is averaging 430 yards of total offense per game, the defense is giving up an average of 434. “We lost all of our defensive line last year … just one returning starter on the defensive line, Colby Whitlock,” said Tuberville. “He’s done well, but it’s just hard for him to have a bunch of young guys around him, trying to get them lined up … But we haven’t been very good. We haven’t tackled well, and we’ve made a lot of mental mistakes … We’re giving up a lot of yards, a lot of points.”

The temptation would be for Colorado to try and establish its running game against Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders are giving up 142 yards rushing per game (the Buffs are averaging 155). The key to the Buffs’ success though, will be in finally establishing a legitimate passing threat. Texas Tech is giving up almost 300 yards passing per game. Only three of 120 teams in the FBS are giving up more yards through the air.

One bright spot for the Tech defense has been senior linebacker Brian Duncan (noticing a significant number of seniors in the Red Raider lineup?), who already has six sacks on the year.

As for Texas Tech’s special teams …

You may remember a few years back, when the Red Raiders were struggling so much in the kicking game, that head coach Mike Leach put out a casting call to the student body to try and find a kicker? Well, laugh no longer, as the winner of the kicking contest, Matt Williams, is now the primary kicker, going 11-for-14 in 2009. This season Williams, a senior, is four-of-six in field goal attempts, but has yet to make a kick in excess of 30 yards.

Still, Williams has only been called upon six times to attempt a field goal all season – he is 27-for-27 on extra point attempts. Translation: Texas Tech doesn’t need a field goal kicker; they score touchdowns.

Colorado’s defense, much as was the case against Baylor, will not be able to stop Texas Tech from scoring.

Instead, the goal appears to be to out-score them.

I – Intangibles

Both teams are in dire need of a victory. Both are 3-3, with any vague hopes of being a part of the Big 12 conference race all but eliminated (Colorado is 0-2 in Big 12 play; Texas Tech is 1-3).

Still, there is much to play for on both sidelines. Both teams still have the opportunity to finish with a winning season; both teams still have a chance to go bowling in 2010.

Colorado does have a few advantages, in addition to having the game played in Folsom Field. Texas Tech is in the first year under new head coach Tommy Tuberville. The players are still adjusting to a new system, and the results to date have been mixed. Colorado, for better or worse, has a team completely immersed in one system, having had the same head coach for the past five years.

Texas Tech, as it adjusts to its new coach, is having growing pains. The Red Raiders have not lost four games over a five game stretch since 1998, but would have just that if they lose to the Buffs. Texas Tech would have a sub .500 record after seven games for the first time since 1994 if the Red Raiders cannot handle Colorado. Texas Tech has had eight straight eight-plus win seasons,  has had 15 straight winning seasons, and is the only team in the 15-year history of the Big 12 to be bowl-eligible each and every season of the league’s existence.

Almost all of the above records were set during the tenure of Mike Leach. Now, under Tommy Tuberville, those streaks are in jeopardy.

Have the Texas Tech players, led by a large senior class (see above) completely bought into the new coach’s system? Or are there concerns that the new way is not as good as the old, seeing as how the new system is only 3-3? We’ll see …

One other intangible which might favor the Buffs is the weather. The most recent forecast for Saturday’s game shows showers and a high of 67 degrees. Any rain would favor a running team over a passing team …

Did I mention that Texas Tech is 95th in the nation in rushing?

P – Preparation / Schedule

Colorado, as we all know, cannot fight its way out of a paper bag on the road. After playing Texas Tech, the Buffs go on the road to face Oklahoma and Kansas. If Colorado can get out of Norman without too many injuries, the Buffs might have a chance against the hapless Jayhawks, but no one will be expecting much out of the Buffs in Norman. Translation: there is nothing for the Buffs to look forward to for next week, so there is no reason not to lay it all on the line against Texas Tech at home.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, heads off to College Station next weekend to play Texas A&M. While all the Texas teams hate the Texas Longhorns, the Red Raiders also have a long-standing animosity towards the Aggies (you’ve heard the story about how the statue of Will Rogers atop a horse was positioned so that the back end of the horse faced toward College Station?). Texas Tech finishes its season with two winnable non-conference games against Houston and Weber State, so a bowl game can still be obtained even if the Red Raiders lose to the Buffs, as long as Tech can take care of business against the hated Aggies. Which game do you think the Red Raider players would rather win – v. Colorado or v. Texas A&M?

There is also a “long-term” scheduling advantage the Buffs have this week, and it has nothing to do with what is coming up on the 2010 schedule.

It has to do with the 2011 schedule.

The Pac-12 divisions are being announced this week, with a first look at the 2011 schedule to be laid out. As a result, Colorado players and fans can start to look forward to trips to locales like Seattle, San Francisco and Phoenix. Meanwhile, Red Raider fans, with a full slate of “Big 12/10” games to look forward to for 2011, will have games in Ames, Lawrence, and Stillwater to look forward to.

Advantage, Colorado!

S – Statistics

Dan Hawkins is 10-24 in Big 12 contests, but is 2-0 against Texas Tech. If Hawkins is to leave the conference with an unblemished record against any team in the league, he will have to beat the Red Raiders Saturday.

Hawkins’ two wins against Texas Tech are also milestones in his career in Boulder. In 2006, Dan Hawkins opened his first season as Colorado’s head coach with an 0-6 record, including memorable losses to Montana State and Colorado State. His first win? A 30-6 victory over Texas Tech.

Dan Hawkins is 2-21 on the road as the Buffs’ head coach. His only wins came in the state of Texas in 2007. His last road victory? Over Texas Tech in Lubbock.

Other stats of note …

– Rodney Stewart is 22nd in the nation in rushing, averaging 103 yards rushing per game.

– Colorado is 4th in the nation in time of possession, holding the ball for almost 34 minutes per game – Texas Tech is 116th in the nation, at just over 26 minutes per game.

– After being in the negative since the second game of the season in turnover margin, the Buffs are finally back to even for the year, with 12 turnovers gained and 12 lost. Texas Tech is plus-one on the season in turnovers.

– At the midway point of the 2010 season, Rodney Stewart (618 yards) is on pace to become the first Colorado rusher to post a 1,000-yard season since Bobby Purify rushed for 1.017 yards in 2004.  With 1,040 yards passing, Tyler Hansen is on pace to become the first Colorado passer to pass for over 2,000 yards since Cody Hawkins passed for 2,693 yards in 2007.

Both Stewart and Hansen should have good games against Texas Tech, ranked 102nd in total defense, 99th in scoring defense, and 117th in pass defense.

If Stewart and Hansen do not, it could be another disappointing result for Colorado fans this weekend.

One Reply to “Texas Tech – Preview”

  1. All unfortunate but true…can’t stop them and can’t score with them.

    SINGLE Biggest flaw/issue in the Dan Hawkins Era….the lack of a QB. Joel Klatt would have this team at 4-2 w/a solid shot at winning the next 2 of 3. We need to get 2 QBs in 2 of the next 3 recruiting cycles to try and find one to roll with.

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