Game Preview: Texas Tech vs Louisiana Tech
Well, last week happened. You can't change that. Kalen Ballage had 13 carries and was tackled six times. For the under-performing math students, that's seven touchdowns.
One was a 75-yard touchdown, and the rest seemed to be on the same wildcat run play that was unstoppable for Texas Tech's defense.
Long story short: The Texas Tech defense was reduced to a punchline.
OR WAS IT?!
Yes, it was.
The offense, however, is still one of the best in the business. Patrick Mahomes was the Big 12 offensive player of the week. That's 1,000-plus yards in two games with nine touchdowns. If Mahomes keeps this pace, he will have 54 touchdowns and over 6,000 yards passing. He also is on pace for 600 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns.
It's been the thought all off season that the broad shoulders of Patrick Mahomes would be able to carry the entire team to a fast start and sustain it on his way to a Heisman-caliber season.
Mahomes is definitely having his offensive success, but visible frustration set in late against the Arizona State University Sun Devils. That frustration manifested itself in two late interceptions. Patrick Mahomes must get help. As good as he is, if it's only him, this team will go 7-5 if there isn't improvement elsewhere.
Not only has the defense been under-performing, but Texas Tech's running game was lacking in the first two games. Mahomes himself had 21 carries. The top three running backs had 21 carries combined.
A strong running game won't solve the inept defense, however. I'm not calling for longer possessions; I don't want to ground the team's effective air raid. But the team is just incredibly unbalanced. It's 90 percent offense and 10 percent defense. Then 70 percent passing, 30 percent rushing. That's just play calling. The number is even more skewed as far as production goes, where the Red Raiders have 1,173 yards through the air and only 197 on the ground.
If Texas Tech wants to find continued success, they must find balance.
I think Kliff Kingsbury starts his journey toward balance this week against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. There will be more focus on the running game in order to take pressure off Mahomes.
Now, I don't know what "balance" means for Texas Tech. In Kliff Kingsbury's most successful year in coaching (at Texas A&M in 2012), the Aggies averaged 316 yards through the air and 242 yards on the ground. That won't be the Red Raiders.
Mahomes has a better arm than Johnny Football. Mahomes is not as talented a runner as JFF. The Aggies had an experienced NFL-laden O-Line. The Red Raiders might have future NFL talent, but it's definitely not experienced.
Maybe balance is 450 yards passing and 150 yards rushing -- 400/200. Gaudy numbers aren't out of the realm of possibility.
I do know that Texas Tech will be able to put up points on LA Tech. Mahomes will impose his will early and often and there will points galore.
The defense will be better this week. It won't be a full 180-degree turnaround, though. It's not 9 p.m. It's not a power 5 opponent. LA Tech doesn't have a good quarterback.
Ryan Higgins is a senior that is the starter. In his freshman season, Higgins was thrust into action, but didn't have much playing time in either his sophomore or junior season. He's finally getting his shot, but freshman J'Mar Smith is spoiling the party.
Expect both to play against Texas Tech on Saturday.
The only turnover that this defense got against Arizona State was overturned by an unfortunate penalty. To win against LA Tech, this defense must convert on turnovers and create some big plays that were non-existent last week.
I think this defense will flex its muscle this week and hold this LA Tech team to under 250 yards rushing.
I said 'flex its muscle;' I didn't say how big that muscle was.
Cam Batson was great week one against SFA in the punt return game. In the Arizona State game, he continually allowed punts to drop and gave up valuable yards in field position. Expect Joe Robinson to fix that problem.
The defense has to have the help of the special teams if they're going to give this offense any chance.
I think Texas Tech will cover the 10.5 points they are being given right now. I still think this team can be 5-1 before the grueling second half of the season kicks in.
What you shouldn't do is overreact after the debacle in Arizona last week. Hold fast. The offense is what you thought it was. The defense could be what you thought it might be.
Tune into 1340 AM on the radio or streaming online at 1340 The Fan's website on Saturday, Sept. 17th from 3 to 5 p.m. for Countdown to Kickoff to hear Rob Breaux and Rob Snyder make all of their predictions and analyze Texas Tech vs LA Tech as well as the rest of the college football landscape.