Texas Tech Game Preview: Eastern Washington vs Texas Tech
Who: Eastern Washington and Texas Tech
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
When: Saturday 3:00 pm, September 2nd.
How to watch: Fox Sports SW
What pregame show to listen to: Countdown to Kickoff. 12:00-2:00 on September 2nd.
I just want to settle something right out of the gate, I've heard a lot of noise lately about how Texas Tech should be worried about Eastern Washington because they are a top five ranked team in the FCS.
That should stop.
Texas Tech should beat this team handily. If you don't, it spells certain doom for the 2017 season.
We saw it in 2014. Central Arkansas came to Lubbock and played within a touchdown and Texas Tech went 4-8.
That is a direct correlation there.
The bye week following week one eliminates any premise of this being a trap game. They have two weeks to prepare for Arizona State on September 16th.
The bottom line is if Eastern Washington plays within 21 points of Texas Tech it's not because Eastern Washington is a great FCS team, it will be because Texas Tech is just bad.
To me, that's a big IF.
The good news is, contrary to the growing belief that Kliff Kingsbury is incompetent as a head coach, Kingsbury knows exactly what he needs to do.
The Texas Tech offense will not put up bigger numbers than last season, but they will be more efficient. Not only because the best gunslinger to ever grace the Texas Tech campus, no offense to BJ Symons, Patrick Mahomes is gone but because Kliff Kingsbury has rededicated himself to the running game.
Kingsbury went out and got a new offensive line coach and running back coach. They have revamped the run scheme. They brought in a 6'1" 235 pound transfer in Desmond Nisby. They are returning the top three rushers from 2016.
All of that points to balance, which leads to efficiency.
Now, balance at Texas Tech isn't 40 passes and 40 rushes. It's not about play calls at all.
It's about production. Instead of expecting 45 pass plays and 30 running calls, look for 350 pass yards and 150 rushing yards. That would lead to a lot of production.
The best offensive game Texas Tech played last season was not Oklahoma when Patrick Mahomes set every record known to man, it was against La Tech where the running game provided a solid base for an incredibly balanced attack. 470 passing yards, 196 rushing yards and 59 points.
Against Oklahoma, Texas Tech running backs provided 36 yards on the ground.
That's unacceptable in 2017, and I think Kliff Kingsbury has put in the effort to rectify that.
I think the offense will look good against Eastern Washington but I'm specifically looking for a heavy dose of Nisby and Justin Stockton / Demarcus Felton on Saturday. Nisby will be the thunder to the other two guy's lightning. They are playing a defense who gave up close to 200 yards rushing per game last season so it should not be a struggle to get the ground game going.
Keep an eye on the offensive line who should dominate a smaller EWU defensive front.
Kliff Kingsbury said defensively they needed to stop the run and create turnovers in his weekly press conference and that is exactly what needs to be done.
The Eastern Washington offense runs through the quarterback more than Texas Tech ran through Patrick Mahomes. The Quarterback, Gage Gubrud, led the team in rushing by 200 yards and he also caught a pass, but he's losing THREE 1,000 yard recievers and an offensive lineman.
The offensive line now features two sophomores, two juniors and a transfer.
They do have a lot of players returning, but they lost a lot of production last season.
Nic Sblendorio. the leading returning receiver, caught 33 balls for 401 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. The next 3 returning ball catchers are all out of the backfield.
What the Texas Tech defense needs to do against a team like Eastern Washington is play a clean game. Limit the big plays, force a turnover and hold them to less than 21 points.
In Kingsbury's first year they held SFA to 13 points and to 17 points last season. In 2015 they held UTEP to 20.
They also gave up 45 to SHSU in 2015.
These FCS opponents need to be dominated, and they can be if you play a clean game.
I'm most excited to see Dakota Allen back on the field, but I'll be focusing on the entire linebacker unit to see if they can improve what was a pretty weak group last season. They have the potential for 180 degree turn around.
No big mistakes.
If you notice the special teams somebody probably scored a touchdown, and it's usually the other team.
Texas Tech wins and wins big. I'll set the line at -24 and take the win straight up.
I wouldn't be surprised by a 56-17 type score. Much more than 17 points and you're seeing some major cracks in the defense.
It's put up or shut up time for Kliff and Kompany and they start week one.