With all of the attention paid to Saturday’s matchup between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Oklahoma Sooners, everything really boils down to one simple fact given the way the two teams matchup on paper. Texas Tech absolutely must win the battles in the trenches early and often for them to gain momentum first of all, but more importantly, sustain it against the most talented team they have faced during the 2013 season to date.
With one of the country’s best pass defenses, but also looming disadvantage with a struggling, young defensive line who has consistently been pushed off the ball in 2013, Oklahoma has some vulnerabilities which can be exploited. The Oklahoma pass defense only promises to play at it’s highest level given the front four for the Sooners is able to get in the backfield and rattle Tech true freshman QB Davis Webb, forcing him to thrown on the run and make plays on the move rather than with his feet set in the pocket.
Webb is mobile enough, but doesn’t have the same mobility of past Tech quarterbacks who were able to make throws no matter whether a play broke down and forced them out of the pocket or if they were protected within it.
For Tech to have sustained success in moving the football against Oklahoma — most importantly through establishing even the most basic run game production — it’ll be essential they get first-tier push on the offensive line from the opening snap. If they are able to get push in the same way the Texas front 4-5 was against Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, it opens up the possibilities for a balanced attack which is always important to beat the Sooners.
In fact, if the push is good enough in the trenches, Tech may allow Webb enough time to pick apart a secondary which thrives on being able to ball hawk when the quarterback is placed in pressure situations.
It’s really not that complex, so I won’t make it complex. If Tech gets the push they need against the Sooners defensive front — and against the offensive front, for that matter — there’s plenty of reason to believe they stand undefeated and move on toward an even brighter future in the Big 12 Championship race.
If not, we could see an undefeated team exposed by one who’s been there before. It certainly won’t be Oklahoma’s first rodeo against a team who’s the stylish pick to win.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and Business Analyst for Rant Sports.