Houston’s head coach Dana Holgorsen stands on the sidelines against Texas Tech, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Maybe the Big 12 schedule is bringing the Texas Tech football team some help this weekend. Sitting at just 1-3 on the year and reeling after an unexpected loss to West Virginia, the Red Raiders are set to host what might be the worst team in the conference, Houston.
Picked to finish 12th in the preseason conference poll, the Cougars have done little to disprove those lowly expectations. Thus, Tech fans are feeling oddly confident in the chances of seeing Joey McGuire’s team pick up its first win of the year against an FBS team.
On the other hand, we did just witness the Red Raiders falling to the team that was picked last in the preseason Big 12 poll. Also, we have no idea what the Red Raiders will bring to the table on offense after the loss of QB Tyler Shough, one of the team’s most respected leaders.
Still, Houston is a team that Tech should expect to beat. At 2-2 on the season, the Cougars do have a better record than Tech but they have not looked nearly as competent in their losses as the Red Raiders have in theirs.
After narrowly beating UTSA 17-14 in Houston to open the year, Dana Holgorsen’s team was surprisingly upended by cross-town rival, Rice 43-41. Though Rice is a bit more feisty this year than in most, no Big 12 team should drop a game to the Owls under any circumstances.
In week three, Houston got a rude introduction to life in its new conference. Drubbed 36-13 at home by TCU, the Cougars showed no indication that they are ready to be a factor in a Power 5 league. Last week, they got back on the winning track by taking care of Sam Houston State 38-7.
Interestingly, this week will be the first time that Houston has played a game outside of Space City in 2023. What’s more, life in Lubbock has not been kind to the Cougs.
Having not won in the Hub City since 1990, U of H is 0-3 at Jones Stadium since 2010. That includes last season’s 33-30 double-OT loss.
Though the Cougars are now a permanent part of Tech’s orbit, many Red Raider fans likely haven’t paid much attention to them given the low preseason expectations and the lackluster start to the year. So to start getting ready for this must-win game, let’s take a look at some Cougars that could be problems for the Red Raiders on Saturday.
Already with 3.5 sacks on the year, he’s just 0.5 sacks away from matching his career high. He’s also been credited with 19 tackles, 5.0 of which have gone for loss.
Now, against the only Power 5 team Houston has played thus far, TCU, he didn’t manage to get to the QB. However, he did rack up six tackles.
The 245-pounder is not necessarily an explosive athlete. Rather, he wins with effort and with great technique with his hands. Will he be the next problematic Houston pass rusher?
Remember that last year, Houston had a defensive end dominate the Red Raiders in Lubbock. Derek Parish managed to get 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss against Texas Tech tackle Caleb Rogers.
This year, Monroe Mills is playing left tackle for Tech but the results haven’t been much better. Can Ceaser dominate Mills and the Red Raiders the way Parish did a year ago? Hopefully not.
The former 4-star recruit has 77 tackles at Houston and 11 sacks. He will draw plenty of attention from the Red Raider offensive line and whether or not he can be neutralized with be crucial.
This game might come down to which team can protect the QB best. Both Houston and Tech are tied for the most sacks allowed in the conference with 12 each. What’s more, the Cougars have only one more sack this year (8) than Tech has managed to accumulate.
However, Tech lacks a dominant edge rusher with DT Jaylon Hutchings being the team’s most effective pass rusher this year so the Cougs might have a slight edge in that regard. Therefore, look to see if Ceaser can get after Morton this Saturday or if the Red Raider O-line can keep him in check.