Texas Tech football: What Red Raiders must do to beat UCF

Texas Tech football: What Red Raiders must do to beat UCF
Next1 of 5Prev post
Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

Raider Red rides a motorcycle before the Texas Tech game against TCU, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Today the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Central Florida Knights will face off in Lubbock where one team will earn its sixth win to become bowl-eligible.  It will be the first time the programs have met and it should be a closely-contested affair.

It’s been a bit of an eye-opening experience for the Knights in their first run through the Big 12.  After starting the year 3-0 with a trio of less-than-impressive non-conference wins over bad teams, they began conference play 0-5.

However, that losing streak did ask UCF to face some of the better teams in the conference such as Kansas State, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  It also coincided with an injury to starting QB John Rhys Plumlee.

The dynamic dual-threat passer is now back in the mix and he’s led his team to a pair of wins in the last two games.  One was a 28-26 win over an awful Cincinnati team and one was a shocking 45-3 home win over then-No. 15 Oklahoma State.

It’s last week’s drubbing of the Cowboys that has Red Raider fans concerned about what the Knights could bring to the table in Lubbock tonight.  However, that game was likely an anomaly.

First of all, it was a home game and the Knights are a different team when playing in Orlando.  So far, their only conference road win was the victory at Cincy by two points.

Second, the Oklahoma State game was played in a driving rain storm.  That was a huge factor in magnifying the trap game aspect of that matchup for the Cowboys.

Remember that Mike Gundy’s team was only one week removed from scoring an emotional win over in-state rival Oklahoma in what was likely the final edition of the Bedlam rivalry to ever be played on either school’s campus.  Thus, it is easy to see how the Cowboys could have been less than focused on putting their best foot forward against the Knights.

Combine a week of sitting around listening to the infamous “fat little girlfriends” (which Mike Leach once famously blamed for a poor Texas Tech showing) with a monsoon and all of the pieces seemed to be in place for an OK State no-show and that’s exactly what happened.

Thanks to turnovers on the Cowboys’ first two possessions, UCF would jump out to a 17-0 lead, and that took Gundy’s team out of its game plan.  In fact, the nation’s leading rusher, Ollie Gordon II got only 12 carries and amassed a meager 25 yards.

Instead, the still-average Alan Bowman had to throw the ball 36 times and he was far from being able to save his team as he completed only 19 passes and threw three interceptions.  It was just one of those clunkers that we see from good college football teams every season as 18-23 year-olds continue to be unreliable when it comes to effort and focus on a weekly basis.

Other than that game, UCF is yet to beat an FBS team this year with a winning record.  In fact, the three other FBS teams aside from OSU that the Knights have beaten have a combined record of just 9-21 in 2023.

In other words, if the Red Raiders consider themselves a decent team, then this is a game they have to find a way to win.  So let’s take a look at what specifically Joey McGuire and his team need to do to get to six wins.

Next1 of 5Prev post
Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

n

Already this year, UCF has allowed five individual rushers to hit the 100-yard mark including Kansas State’s DJ Giddens who ran for 204 yards and 4 TDs against them.  What’s more, the Knights gave up 281 yards on the ground to Kansas State, 399 to Kansas, 286 to West Virginia, and 248 to Cincy.

n

Of course, the Knights are going to load the box against Tech to try to limit Brooks’ effectiveness.  But will that matter?

n

Knowing that every team on their schedule is going to try to run the ball down their throat, haven’t the Knights already been loading the box to try to stop the run?  Likely so…and it hasn’t helped outside of last week’s rainy slog vs. Oklahoma State.

n

Today, the Red Raiders need to let Tahj Brooks have the ball early and often.  He might set a career-high in yards and carries today and if he does, it will bode well for his team’s chances of prevailing.

n

"},{"title":"Texas Tech football: What Red Raiders must do to beat UCF","permalink":"https://wreckemred.com/2023/11/18/texas-tech-football-red-raiders-beat-ucf/3/","shortCodeTitle":null,"content":"

ntttthttps%3A%2F%2Fwreckemred.com%2Fwp content%2Fuploads%2Fimagn images%2F2017%2F07%2F21875037 | Biggamefishinttttttttt

Nov 11, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) runs the ball against Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Xavier Benson (1) as safety Kendal Daniels (5) moves in during the second quarter at FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

nttttttt

nttn

Texas Tech can’t let Plumlee run wild

n

UCF has a great running back as well.  Senior R.J. Harvey is explosive and has already racked up 1,082 yards and 12 TDs.  He’s even got a 92-yard scamper on his ledger this season.

n

However, Tech has done a good job against running backs this year.  It’s been running QBs that have once again been a problem and today, Plumlee can’t be allowed to impact the game with his legs.

n

Folks in Lubbock still have nightmares of seeing KSU’s Avery Johnson run for five TDs and 90 yards earlier this year in Lubbock.  Also, scrappy Wyoming QB Andrew Peasley kept his team in the game by running for 68 yards and a TD on 15 carries in week one.  Even Houston’s Donovan Smith gave Tech problems in the first half as he ran for 58 yards on nine rushes overall including a couple of key third-and-long conversions early in the game.

n

Today, Plumlee could do the same.  In his lengthy NCAA career, he’s put up 100 rushing yards ten times.  He even went off for 212 yards on the ground against LSU in 2019 when he was playing for Ole Miss.

n

This year, a knee injury has limited his running, though.  In fact, in the five games he’s played, he has topped out at 74 yards.  Of course, that came last week, a sign that he might be feeling more confident on his previously injured wheel.

n

Plumlee is fast.  Just like Kansas’ Jason Bean (maybe not quite that fast though).  When Bean was in the game last week against Tech, the Red Raiders did a good job of containing him when he ran.

n

Can they do the same today against Plumlee?  A key might be whether or not star Tyler Owens will be able to play after leaving last week’s game with an ankle injury.  He’s a game-time decision today and if he plays, he could be a key to slowing Plumlee’s ground game.

n

Today, the game will be won or lost on the ground and Plumlee can’t be allowed to keep drives alive by using his feet.  If Tech can keep him in the pocket, especially on 3rd down, then this will be a game that goes the way of the home team.

n

"},{"title":"Texas Tech football: What Red Raiders must do to beat UCF","permalink":"https://wreckemred.com/2023/11/18/texas-tech-football-red-raiders-beat-ucf/4/","shortCodeTitle":null,"content":"

ntttthttps%3A%2F%2Fwreckemred.com%2Fwp content%2Fuploads%2Fimagn images%2F2017%2F07%2F21853483 scaled | Biggamefishinttttttttt

Nov 2, 2023; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Christian Horned Frogs offensive tackle Brandon Coleman (77) blocks Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings (95) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

nttttttt

nttn

Texas Tech must make UCF sustain long drives

n

UCF is a team that wants to pick up yards in chunks.  In fact, they are tops in the conference in yards per play at 7.1.

n

Today, Tech needs to make UCF drive the ball to score.  Just like we saw last week against Kansas, that makes it more likely that a team will have a penalty, turnover, or negative play to derail a possession.

n

For instance, Kansas’ only TD last week against the Red Raiders was a 60-yard scoring run.  But when the Jahhawks had to drive 18 plays from their own seven to the Tech one, they eventually stalled out on 4th-and-goal getting no points in one of the pivotal moments of the game.

n

The Knights are only an average red-zone team.  Ranking 6th in the conference, they score on an average of 84.2% of their trips inside the 20.

n

They do have six instances of turning the ball over on downs inside the 20 and they have had to settle for nine field goals thus far.  That’s an area where the field shrinks and UCF’s speed is somewhat negated because the defense doesn’t have to worry about being beaten deep down the field.

n

Tech is doing a good job of forcing field goals from opponents in the red zone.  On 35 trips, opponents have had to kick 11 FGs.  That’s 31.4% of the opponent’s opportunities.

n

Tonight, the key may very well be the number of red zone possessions UCF has.  The higher the number, the less likely it is that the Knights will be scoring on big plays.

n

If UCF has to win this game three points at a time, they likely won’t be able to put enough on the board.  So what happens inside the 20 will be crucial, assuming that Tech can make UCF drive the football.

n

"},{"title":"Texas Tech football: What Red Raiders must do to beat UCF","permalink":"https://wreckemred.com/2023/11/18/texas-tech-football-red-raiders-beat-ucf/5/","shortCodeTitle":null,"content":"

ntttthttps%3A%2F%2Fwreckemred.com%2Fwp content%2Fuploads%2Fimagn images%2F2017%2F07%2F21801362 | Biggamefishinttttttttt

Texas Tech’s offensive lineman Caleb Rogers (76) lifts Texas Tech’s head coach Joey McGuire after Behren MortonÕs touchdown against TCU in a Big 12 football game, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

nttttttt

nttn

Texas Tech will beat UCF to get to bowl eligibility

n

Many people believe this game will be a nip-and-tuck affair.  That’s what you typically get when two 5-5 teams face off.

n t

n t

ntttttt

ntttttttttntttttt

nttttt

n t

n t

n n

However, I think Tech is the superior team in most areas including the all-important defensive side of the ball.  Still, the Knights’ speed on offense will give them a greater margin for error.

n

Football is about physicality, though and Tech is the more physical team.  That’s where the home team should have the edge tonight.

n

Tech showed last week that you can slow a finesse offense down by controlling the line of scrimmage, even if much of that was because of the fact that the Jayhawks were without Jason Bean at QB.  Tonight, that same physicality must be to the Red Raiders’ advantage.

n

Much will depend on Behren Morton’s health, of course.  He’s going to have to make enough plays in the passing game to keep UCF’s defense honest but in the end, this will be a heavy Tahj Brooks game.

n

In 2015, in his final home game at Tech, Deandre Washington went off for 248 rushing yards and 3 TDs while catching four passes for 36 yards as Tech beat Kansas State.  Brooks is the best Tech RB since Washington and he could be in for a similar performance tonight against one of the nation’s worst rushing defenses.

n

Yes, UCF beat OK State last week.  That gave was a perfect storm for a Cowboys letdown, though.

n

Tech won’t be distracted or drunk on success like the Cowboys were after beating OU.  Instead, this will be an emotional night for the 24 seniors who will be playing for possibly the final time at Jones Stadium.

n

Players like DTs Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford as well as safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and Brooks will want to leave their mark at home and cement their legacy by helping the program get to a third-straight bowl game for the first time since 2007-09.

n

What’s more, Tech is simply a better team.  UCF’s five wins have come against four poor teams and a distracted and unmotivated OK State team that had to play in a late-season Florida deluge.

n

If Tech can keep UCF from getting huge plays on offense, the Red Raiders will make this a rock fight and that’s not the type of game the Knights are built to win.  In the end, football is about physicality and Tech has more of it and that’s why this will be a 38-28 Red Raider victory.

n

 

n

 

"}),"useSlideSources":true,"themeType":"classic","prevPost":"https://wreckemred.com/2023/11/16/texas-tech-basketball-red-raiders-grind-win-stay-unbeaten/","nextPost":null,"prevText":"Prev","nextText":"Next","buttonWidth":0,"buttonWidth_post":0,"postUrl":"https://wreckemred.com/2023/11/18/texas-tech-football-red-raiders-beat-ucf/","postId":57420,"refreshAds":true,"refreshAdsEveryNSlides":1,"adRefreshingMechanism":"javascript","siteUrl":"https://wreckemred.com","prevText_post":"Prev post","nextText_post":"Next post"}; (function ($) { $(document).ready(function () { try { tpsInstance = new tps.createSlideshow(tpsOptions); } catch(e) { } }); }(jQuery));