Eric Ward

Seth Doege: The Big 12 may be ruled by big names like Geno Smith and Collin Klein, but there’s a quarterback in Lubbock making big waves. Seth Doege has compiled top-tier numbers through nine weeks of the season. He has passed for 2,540 yards and 30 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. Completing an impressive 70 percent of his passes has made Doege a consistently reliable captain for the No. 3 passing attack in the country. As a senior, Doege makes up for his 5-foot-11 frame with excellent experience. Doege has passed for over 200 yards and compiled at least a 120 passer rating in all but one game this season. His statistics are proof that despite his team’s disappointing performances against Oklahoma and Kansas State, Doege can hurt just about any defense with his arm. The Longhorns should look to pressure Doege and add to his sack total — which stands at 11 so far — if they want to slow down this prolific offense.

Eric Ward: The leading receiver for the solid Tech offense is junior Eric Ward. Ward has caught 41 passes for a team leading 517 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He is coming off his best performance against No. 2 Kansas State in which he caught 11 passes for 161 yards. Ward should be a dangerous option for Doege to look for after coming off a career day against the best team in the Big 12. Ward is an average-sized receiver at 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, but his 12.6 yards per catch indicate that he has elite speed. Texas continued to have problems tackling even against a vastly inferior Kansas team and Ward could create many of the same problems.

Darrin Moore: The senior is the second leading receiver on this Red Raider offense, having amassed 440 yards and eight touchdowns with a team-leading 43 catches on the season. Moore is not the first option in the passing game, but his size seems intriguing given what Texas’ game plan will likely be in this game. The Longhorns have had problems tackling and stopping big plays and will look to marginalize the speed of Texas Tech’s receivers to slow them down. Moore is a guy who stands a tall 6-foot-4 which makes him a matchup nightmare for the small Texas defensive backs. Moore is averaging 10 yards per reception which shows he can pick up yards after the catch. If the Red Raiders can establish their passing attack early on, look for Moore to show up big especially in the red zone. Wearing down their speed will leave open long passes down the field for Moore to go up and get over smaller defenders.

Cody Davis: Although Texas Tech is known mostly for its offense, players like Cody Davis bring recognition to the defensive unit of the Red Raiders. The senior safety is clearly the leader of this defense as he currently leads the team with 64 tackles and three interceptions. These numbers demonstrate his ability to wrap up ball-carriers in addition to covering receivers when needed. At 6-foot-2, 202 pounds Davis is a bigger safety who can make things hard for the speedy receivers of the Longhorns. If Texas is looking to establish its offense on the ground or through the air, Davis is a guy who must be accounted for in both scenarios. 

Kerry Hyder: Texas is a team with perhaps the best defensive line core in the country and all eyes are on them every game. A man on the Texas Tech defensive line should have at least one eye kept on him at all times in this game however, Kerry Hyder passes the eye test, coming in at 6-foot-2, 281 pounds. He is a big defensive tackle who plugs up the running lanes well and causes trouble for quarterbacks when he gets into the backfield. The junior leads the team with four sacks and nine and a half tackles for loss this season. The Longhorns garner much of their success from their solid running game, so Hyder should be a guy they need to keep out of the backfield. With the quarterback situation a bit unclear for Texas at the moment, Hyder could complicate things even more with the pressure he will bring. Texas needs to keep its eyes upon him at all times.

Quarterback: Although he is coming off a poor performance in his last game, Texas Tech’s Seth Doege has been having a season typical of the Tech starting quarterback. Before the game against Iowa State, his lowest output in terms of yards came against Nevada when he passed for 22 yards and three touchdowns. In terms of yards, his worst game, 171 yards against Iowa State, is still better than either Ash or McCoy. Considering that the two teams have polar opposite offensive approaches. Texas Tech will have the definite advantage in the passing game this week.

Advantage: Texas Tech

Running Back: Against a similar opponent, Kansas, both teams put up more than 500 yards in offense, with Tech gaining 530 and Texas gaining 590. The difference is that while Tech picked up almost 400 yards through the air, Texas steamrolled Kansas to the tune of 441 yards on the ground. Eris Stephens was leading a surprisingly strong rushing attack for the Red Raiders, until he suffered a season-ending injury earlier this month, but Texas has the clear advantage in this one. Malcolm Brown is coming off two straight 100 yard games, and could have gotten a lot more last week had he stayed in a closer game. With Brown, Whittaker, Bergeron and Monroe in the backfield, Texas has the most weapons its had there since 2005.

Advantage: Texas

Wide Receiver: The Texas Tech Receivers have 149 more catches than the Texas receivers do, so they obviously get a lot more yards and make a lot more plays. Tech has four receivers who have at least 300 yards receiving, with Alex Torres leading the team with 510 yards and Eric Ward with eight touchdowns. Texas’ top two receivers combine for 60 catches, 868 yards and four touchdowns, but the third leading receiver is Whittaker out of the running back position, with 15 catches and 129 yards and a touchdown. With Shipley getting a knee injury, Davis is the only sure thing at a shallow position. The Texas Tech receivers catch a lot of passes, and in the system, they always have a chance to make a play after the catch.

Advantage: Texas Tech

Offensive Line: The line for the Red Raiders has given up 12 sacks this season, but considering how many passing attempts they have, that number is inflated a little. The line allows one sack for every 33 pass attempts. Also, Tech’s top three runners are averaging more than four yards a carry. The Texas line has given up 18 sacks this season, but 13 of those came in the two losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Kansas, Iowa State and Rice were able to combine for the other five sacks, with UCLA and BYU not getting any. The difference between the two lines is the run blocking. Though the Red raiders have guys with solid yards per carry, the Texas backs have carried the ball 60 more times and will be running a lot more in this one.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive Line: After being quiet for most of the year, the Texas line came alive last week to the tune of three sacks, four quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and, for the first time this season, a lineman leading the team in tackles. Jackson Jeffcoat led the team with seven tackles, including four solo. Texas Tech has 10 sacks on the season, but the major difference between the two lines is run defense. Texas is solid against the run, allowing just more than 100 yards a game on less than four yards per carry, while Texas Tech is allowing 225 yards per game on almost five yards per carry. The Red Raiders have failed to hold a team to less than 100 yards rushing and have allowed five teams to rush for more than 200 yards.

Advantage: Texas

Linebackers: Running a nickel defense, Texas Tech’s linebackers don’t put up a lot of numbers. Most of the time, the Red Raiders only have two linebackers on the field and rely on their defensive backs to make stops. Additionally, they rarely have the same starting linebackers for consecutive games. Texas linebackers have been the subjects of some negativity of late because of their habit of missing the holes along the line and allowing big runs. The Texas linebackers still make a lot of tackles, having led the team in five games, with Acho leading the way a team high, four times.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive Backs: Texas Tech runs a nickel defense with five defensive backs on the field. Against most Big 12 teams, that defense works. But Texas Tech’s defensive backs may not be as suited to play Texas, considering that it is first and foremost a running team. On the other side of the ball, Texas’ defensive backs will be busy the whole game trying to contain the Red Raiders receivers. The Texas defensive backs only have seven interceptions on the season, with almost half of those coming in one game against UCLA. Texas Tech though, despite having five defensive backs on the field, have only gotten their hands on five passes. Although they will be under fire for most of the game, the Longhorns defensive backs still have more talent on their side.

Advantage: Texas

Special Teams: Though not really able to do much last week, the Texas return game has become major weapon for the Longhorns. Fozzy Whittaker leads the team with two return touchdowns, with D.J. Monroe, Marquise Goodwin and Quandre Diggs chipping in to provide some long returns to give the Longhorns good field position. Texas Tech is averaging a solid 23 yards per kickoff return, with neither team really able to make a lot happen with punt returns. If the game is close, then it could come down to field goals. Texas would have a slight advantage there with Tucker making 90 percent of his kicks, and Texas Tech’s Donnie Corona making only 71 percent.

Advantage: Texas