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September 15, 2011

Ultimate Preview: New Mexico

Before the season, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said he didn't like the open date on his schedule coming up as early as the second week of the season, mostly because it meant his Red Raiders would be playing 11 weeks in a row after that.

But the coach made pretty good use of the extra time following his team's opening 50-10 win over Texas State, working on both sides of the ball in preparation for the outing at New Mexico.

TEXAS TECH VS. NEW MEXICO
The Opponent
Who: New Mexico Lobos
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Colors: Cherry, Silver
Series Record: 34-6-2, Tech

Record: 0-2 (0-1 MWC)
National Ranking: N/A

Head Coach: Mike Locksley
Record at UNM: 2-24 (3)
Total Record: 2-24 (3)

Base Offense: Spread
Base Defense: 4-2-5

The Game
When: Sept. 17, 2:30 p.m. CDT
Where: Albuquerque, N.M.
Venue: University Stadium (map)

TV: Versus
Radio: TTSN (affiliates), Sirius 138

Vegas Line: Tech -21

The Numbers
26.5: In the last three meetings between Tech and New Mexico, including this weekend's game, the average point spread has been 26.5 points. The Red Raiders are 1-1 against the number during this time span.

14: As bad as UNM has been over the last several years, Tech's largest halftime lead in the teams' last three meetings is just 14 points; the Red Raiders led 31-17 at the half last year.

12: There are 11 freshmen on Tech's latest depth chart, with five of those players -- Bradley Marquez, Jackson Richards, Kindred Evans, Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen -- listed as starters or co-starters.

The Quote
"I think they have really good defensive line players, and they have a really good linebacker. But I think it's a mismatch with our skill guys and their secondary, so we should be able to win in that area."
- Texas Tech QB Seth Doege

"We challenged our offensive line," Tuberville said. "They didn't play very well the first half last week against Texas State.

"I think a lot of that had to do with just the continuity of our offensive line. It wasn't what it was last year. They've got to learn to play well together."

Defensively, Tuberville said the Raiders didn't miss many tackles, but they did take poor pursuit angles at times, "especially in the running game.

"They ran the option on us, and we had a couple of breakdowns in assignment football, which you are going to have.

"But the thing that we didn't give up was a big play."

Whatever the case, the Raiders are glad to get back on the field, even though they will be away from home for the first time.

"I'm excited about it," junior quarterback Seth Doege said. "I haven't thought about it being on the road or anything like that. I'm just excited to play again."

-- Sports Xchange


THREE LOBOS TO WATCH

QB Tarean Austin - 35-of-59, 341 yards, TD; 23 att., 88 yards - Austin spurned multiple offers from lower tier BCS AQ schools to attend New Mexico and is entering his first season as the Lobos' full-time starter. With such a young and inexperienced offensive line in front of him, Austin's athleticism is an asset and allows him to extend plays when the pocket breaks down.

LB Dallas Bollema - 21 tackles, 0.5 TFL, two PBUs - Bollema is also in his first season as a full-time starter, and has been one of the few bright spots for UNM defensively. Through two weeks, the Artesia, N.M. native leads the Mountain West in tackles (21) and is second on the team in pass breakups.

WR Deon Long - 12 rec., 126 yards; 4 ret., 67 yards - With Lamaar Thomas sidelined with a back injury, Long is the Lobos' only big play threat heading into this weekend. A former four-star prospect, Long signed with West Virginia out of high school before transferring to New Mexico in 2010. He leads the team in receptions (12) and receiving yards (126) and is also expected to be the Lobos' primary returner this weekend.

-- Dickens


KEYS TO THE GAME

Let's Get Together - Tech's biggest problem on offense against Texas State, in my eyes, was the early troubles of the offensive line. They were erratic, sluggish, and just didn't seem to have much want-to. It really hurt the rest of the offense in the first half, and when the big uglies got it going in the second half, Tech rolled. If the o-line will gel together early on, the rest of the offense will take off and leave New Mexico's defense in the dust.

Loud Noises! - For a young team, it's important to not get flustered in the first road game of the season. The emotional high of coming onto the field at home is nowhere to be found, and some guys could be flat when the game starts. If the Red Raiders want this game to be business-as-usual, they must not get caught up in the atmosphere or crowd in Albuquerque. It does help that the first road game is out of conference against an inferior opponent, but Tech's veteran players will have to make sure that their younger counterparts aren't M.I.A. early on.

Shut The Door - For the defense to have the kind of game they want, they absolutely must stop New Mexico on third down and fourth down. The Red Raiders gave up three fourth down conversions to Texas State and allowed them to sustain some long drives because of it. New Mexico quarterback Tarean Austin has some wheels, and could cause problems in those situations if the pocket breaks down. If the Red Raiders can do that and play good pass defense, then they should be able to get the Lobos in a hole early on.

-- McKay


EXTRA POINTS

New Mexico has lost 24 games during Mike Locksley's two-plus years in Albuquerque, and all but five of the team's losses have been by double-digits.

Tech lists 12 freshmen on its depth chart for this week, including three on the offensive line. LB Blake Dees and LB Sam Eguavoen are the only true freshmen that are expected to start on Saturday, but WR Bradley Marquez and DE Kindred Evans are listed as co-starters.

The Red Raiders are currently riding a four-game winning streak, second only to Oklahoma (6) in the Big 12.

DE Leon Mackey suffered a deflated lung injury as a result of a hit he took in the opener against Texas State and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks, if not the season.

QB Scotty Young, listed third on the depth chart, is not on Tech's travel roster, but true freshman Michael Brewer is listed. Brewer is expected to redshirt this season, but in an emergency situation he would likely be forced into action.

-- Dickens


TEXAS TECH VS. NEW MEXICO MATCHUP BREAKDOWN
TEXAS TECH PASS OFFENSE VS. NEW MEXICO PASS DEFENSE
EDGE:

Texas Tech
When the head coach and quarterback of the opposing team publicly state they think they can exploit your secondary, you have secondary problems. That's exactly the situation New Mexico finds itself in.

Last week Arkansas put up 373 yards and this week they'll have the challenge of stop receiver Darrin Moore and slowing down a few other capable receivers like Alex Torres, Austin Zouzalik, Bradley Marquez and even Eric Ward could have a break out game. Expect quarterback Seth Doege to look to Moore early and often Saturday.
TEXAS TECH RUN OFFENSE VS. NEW MEXICO RUN DEFENSE
EDGE:

Texas Tech
Arkansas put up 259 rushing yards against New Mexico last week on its way to a 600-plus yard offensive performance.

The Red Raiders are trying to establish more of a running game this season and could build some confidence running against the Lobos not so great run defense. Eric Stephens, Aaron Crawford and the debut of Ronnie Daniels should be enough to break 125 yards on the New Mexico defense. Again, the primary attack should come through the air.
TEXAS TECH OFFENSIVE LINE VS. NEW MEXICO DEFENSIVE LINE
EDGE:

Push
New Mexico has three sacks through its first two games and hasn't really been able to establish a good run stopping ability. Meanwhile, the Red Raider offensive line is shallow from a depth perspective and not on its first option at center.

Texas Tech's offensive line wasn't overly impressive against Texas State although it seemed to turn a corner after halftime of that game. New Mexico should present more of a challenge than Texas State did and the offensive line needs to respond to that challenge.
TEXAS TECH RUN DEFENSE VS. NEW MEXICO RUN OFFENSE
EDGE:

Texas Tech
Texas Tech's defensive line looked adequate to good against Texas State and they're up against a similar offense this week. It's up to the defensive line and linebackers to contain New Mexico's dual-threat quarterback Tarean Austin.

Austin hasn't been much of a threat on the ground early in the season, but the Texas Tech coaching staff is concerned about his playmaking ability in space. Tech must contain him and a capable running back corps that rushed for 150 yards against Colorado State and has the talent to do so with the revamped line and a pair of athletic freshmen linebackers.
TEXAS TECH PASS DEFENSE VS. NEW MEXICO PASS OFFENSE
EDGE:

Texas Tech
Tech's secondary is still unproven but New Mexico is not overly impressive through the air. Austin has 341 passing yards through his first two games and a completion percentage of 59.3 percent.

Expect for the Tech secondary to enjoy a pretty easy day in the defensive backfield because Austin just can't put the ball on the money as much as the Lobo coaching staff would like. He tends to put the ball down and run when pressure gets to him and that goes back to Tech's front six.
TEXAS TECH DEFENSIVE LINE VS. NEW MEXICO OFFENSIVE LINE
EDGE:

Texas Tech
Much has been made about this matchup. New Mexico gave up 10 sacks in a 14-10 loss at home to Colorado State and then went on the road and gave up no sacks while losing 52-3 against Arkansas. A good day for the Tech defensive line is try to get somewhere in the middle, four or five sacks. New Mexico only averages about 300 yards per game and that has a lot to do with the offensive line.

This week, however, the Tech defensive line will be without key defensive end Leon Mackey. In his place is redshirt freshman Jackson Richards and true freshman Branden Jackson may see some time. But with Dartwan Bush on the opposite end spot and some imposing defensive tackles, it could be a long day for the Lobos.
TEXAS TECH SPECIAL TEAMS VS. NEW MEXICO SPECIAL TEAMS
EDGE:

Texas Tech
Saturday's game could be a big one for Tech's return game with Ben McRoy returning kicks. He appeared close to making few big runs against Texas State. For New Mexico, they've only forced one punt per year and returned it for five yards.

Kicking wise, Donnie Carona looked good in all aspects of his game, especially on PAT which had been a problem in the past. New Mexico's kicker, James Aho has made two-of-three kicks with a long of 47 yards.

-- Graham


TEXAS TECH VS. NEW MEXICO PREDICTIONS
Dickens Graham McKay Gunter Cowan Hair Quarter
TTU TTU TTU TTU TTU TTU TTU




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