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November 11, 2008

Football Mailbag: Does Tech have a chance?

RedRaiderSports.com subscribers are not only some of the best informed, most sports-savvy individuals on the Internet, they are also some of the most curious. Subscribers constantly level questions at the staff, some of which, regrettably, do not get answered. With this series, we attempt to partially remedy that situation by answering some of the most interesting questions submitted to us. We can only hope that the answers do justice to the questions.

1. Please list three reasons why you feel we are becoming more successful as we get deeper into the season and why.

1. The competition has gotten better. This team plays at its best when confronted by a challenge and is powerfully motivated when the stakes are high. As the season has gone on, the teams have gotten tougher and the gold and glory of a higher magnitude.

2. Matt "Lynwood" Williams. It may seem like a small thing, but the Tarleton State reject has solidified the extra point situation, and has probably improved the short field goal kicking component as well. He has been a true godsend, and if you need any evidence that this team has destiny written all over it, the improbable appearance of Williams is it.

3. Edward Britton. Ever since Lyle Leong was named a starter in place of Britton, Easy Ed has been little short of stellar. Sure, he dropped a touchdown against Texas, but more than made up for that gaffe during the rest of the game. Britton has given Graham Harrell another weapon, been a real threat in the deep passing game, and has made it even tougher for teams to devote extra attention to Michael Crabtree.

2. In the past, teams with great athleticism on defense have been able to disrupt our offensive timing ... will the current OU team be able to do this?

Absolutely not. Now Mike Leach is the man with the straight flush on offense while Bob Stoops has three queens on defense. The current Oklahoma stop unit is a far cry from Stoops' best units, and Tech's offense is the best in school history. The only thing that will stop the Red Raiders from scoring in Norman is unforced errors. The more pressing concern will be how Tech's defense matches up with the Sooner offense.

3. In the JET package, does Daniel Howard purposely delay his blitz or is he having trouble finding the soft spot in the line? With the Big 12 offenses and the QBs getting rid of the ball so quickly, a delayed blitz seems ineffective. By the time the player gets there, the ball is gone.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't seen Daniel Howard blitz very often in the Jet or any other package. What I have seen is Howard lined up as a middle linebacker whose job seems to be to spy the opposing quarterback. He did this for most of the second quarter against Texas, but Ruffin McNeill used that strategy rarely in the second half. Fact is, the Red Raiders blitz very rarely in general. McNeill much prefers to pressure with his four down linemen, flood the secondary with fast, good tacklers, and close down rapidly on ball-carriers should there not be a sack or incompletion. And the results speak for themselves.

4. Texas Tech has no chance to win in Norman, Oklahoma. What say you?

I'd say I'm honored to field a question from Ron Franklin.

In actuality, I fully expect the Red Raiders to win this game. I think their intensity will be unbelievable, I don't think the Red Raiders have a scintilla of fear about playing in Norman or playing a team they've beaten two out of the last three seasons, and I don't think the Sooners are mentally and physically tough enough to hang with Tech. Early headline: The Norman Conquest.

5. Has the Oklahoma defense been the same without middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds who was injured in the Texas game? What does it do for Tech's chances that Sooner defensive end Austin English might not be ready to play on November 22nd?

I have not been terribly impressed with Oklahoma's defense since the Red Raiders lacerated it last season, and then West Virginia ran circles around it in the bowl game. Frankly, I suspect the Sooner defense misses Mike Stoops far more than it misses Ryan Reynolds and Auston English. And M. Stoops won't be able to help won't be there to save the OU defense once Graham Harrell and the Air Raid begin scourging it around Norman like galley slaves on a pirate vessel.

6. True or False. Colby Whitlock will be an All-American before he leaves Tech?

I'll go with true here, although I don't think it's a sure thing. I want to see Colby Whitlock bring the stink against the likes of Eastern Washington and Texas A&M as well as he does against Texas and Oklahoma State. He's certainly got the talent to be an every-game dominator, though, and the increased fame of the Tech football program will certainly help his cause.


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