Baker Mayfield

Quarterbacks

Junior David Ash announced Monday that he will not play again this season. Texas will continue to start senior Case McCoy, who did not throw any interceptions in the first five games of the season. He has thrown nine in the last five, including a three-interception performance in Texas’ 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State on Nov. 16. McCoy’s numbers may improve against a Texas Tech defense that has only forced seven interceptions on the season in opposition to OSU’s 19. Freshman quarterbacks Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield have split starts in Texas Tech’s current four-game losing streak. The two have combined for over 4,000 yards passing and 28 touchdowns in a season that included a 7-0 start. Texas will most likely game-plan for Mayfield, who threw for 314 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in Tech’s 63-34 loss to Baylor on Nov. 16. The walk-on from Lake Travis high school has struggled against the top defenses in the Big 12, throwing five combined interceptions against TCU and Kansas State.

Advantage: Texas Tech

 

Running Backs

Carries are limited for Kenny Williams in a Texas Tech offense that has ran the ball almost 300 times less than they have passed. But the junior from Hendrickson high school has 439 yards and eight touchdowns rushing on the season. Sophomore DeAndre Washington provides 4.3 yards a carry with 388 yards on the season and four touchdowns. Neither back has rushed for 100 yards in a game this season, but provide a pass threat, combining for over 400 yards receiving on the year. The Texas run game produced 151 yards and a touchdown in their first game without sophomore Johnathan Gray against Oklahoma State. Junior Malcolm Brown started with a 55-yard, one touchdown first half and added 28 yards in the second half. Junior Joe Bergeron averaged 4.9 yards a carry in a 49-yard performance that demonstrated the Longhorn backfield was still intact. With the recent performance of the pass game, perhaps there will be a leniency on the running backs against a Texas tech defense that gives up 186 yards a game on the ground.

Advantage: Texas

 

Wide Receivers

The Texas receiving unit has yet to produce a 300-yard game this season and will be compared to a Tech receiving core that has never combined for less than 300 yards in more than one game. Senior Mike Davis surpassed Jaxon Shipley as the team’s leading receiver in the 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State with nine catches for 112 yards. Davis and Shipley have been in tandem as McCoy’s most consistent receivers, combining for 328 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. The Texas receivers may pick up on a few pointers from Tech’s 63-34 loss to Baylor, where the secondary allowed 335 yards through the air. Junior tight end Jace Amaro has been the main target this season for the Red Raiders and surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in just nine games with a 174-yard, one touchdown performance against Oklahoma State. Senior Eric Ward leads the receivers with eight touchdowns and has accumulated 381 yards and five touchdowns in the last four games. Sophomore Jakeem Grant is third in receiving with 707 yards on the season, and provides a deep threat with five receptions of over 30 yards. Tech will provide the toughest matchup the Texas secondary has seen this season.

Advantage: Texas Tech

 

Offensive Line

Texas Tech has given up twice as many sacks as Texas, but has passed almost twice as often, so, the proportions even out. Sophomore Le’Raven Clark was named freshman all-America a season ago and has since moved to left tackle. Clark will have the duties of protecting his quarterback from Jackson Jeffcoat, who has seven sacks on the season. The Red Raiders gave up three sacks to Baylor in their last game, and will face the third-ranked pass rush in the Big 12 against Texas. The Longhorn offensive line has only given up three sacks in the last six weeks, and had an unblemished record against Oklahoma State until freshman Tyrone Swoopes was sacked on the last play of the game. The styles between Texas and Tech vary completely when it comes to offensive line, but the Longhorns have given up 10 less tackles for loss, including both the pass and the run. Protection has come from left guard Trey Hopkins and left tackle Donald Hawkins, who together maintained a four-game stretch of sackless football ball from the left side.

Advantage: Texas

 

Defensive Line:

The Red Raider pass rush has emerged mostly from the linebackers, but the key for Tech will be stopping the Longhorn run game. Tech has struggled recently against the run, allowing almost 300 yards a game in their last four match-ups. They will face off against an offensive line that has paved the way for almost 180 rushing yards a game for Texas and has given up three sacks in the last six games. Seniors Dartwan Bush and Kerry Hyder will battle for the line of scrimmage and each have two sacks on the season. The Texas defensive line was shutout against Oklahoma State a week after the line had a six-sack, five-forced fumble performance against West Virginia. It was the first time since playing Ole Miss that the d-line did not have a sack in a game. The Cowboys allow the 10th fewest sacks in the nation. Tech’s offensive line has allowed 14 more than OSU. Sophomore tackle Malcolm Brown stood in for the injured Chris Whaley in an impressive seven-tackle performance against Oklahoma State, but the key to success against Tech will fall upon defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed, who each hold the second-most sacks in the Big 12.

Advantage: Texas

 

Linebackers

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 38-13 win over Texas, including an 18-yard scamper for the game’s first score. Mayfield is not as much a dual-threat player, but Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington will provide an issue to a Texas linebacker group that has struggled in the open field. Incomparable to West Virginia’s Charles Sims, who had 135 total yards and three touchdowns against Texas earlier this season, Williams and Washington present a style of play that the Texas linebackers do not excel against. The linebackers provide the defensive pass rush for Texas Tech, with 11 sacks split between their four starters. Senior Will Smith leads the team with 3.5 sacks on the season and had a career-high 16 tackles against Baylor on Nov. 16. Their top concern will be against the run after being a part of a rush defense that has given up over 1,000 yards in the last four games. The Texas backfield will be limited with Johnathan Gray out for the season with a torn Achilles and Daje Johnson suspended for violating team rules. Facing less offensive firepower, Tech will be able to gameplan in less variety. 

Advantage: Texas Tech

 

Defensive Backs

The Red Raider secondary was torched against Baylor, where Bear quarterback Bryce Petty threw for 335 yards, three touchdowns and averaged almost 20 yards a completion. The Texas passing game ranks 43 places behind Baylor nationally, but possess the threat of depth and talent with wide receivers Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson and three other receivers who all have touchdown receptions of over 50 yards. Their success will be dependent on the performance of the recently struggling Case McCoy. The Texas secondary has struggled after facing passing offenses that are ranked in the top four in the Big 12, giving up 487 yards and three touchdowns to Oklahoma State and West Virginia. They will now face their toughest matchup yet against the top passing offense in the nation. The defensive backfield will look to exploit the youth of freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has thrown an interception in each of his last five games. 

Advantage: Texas Tech

 

Special Teams

Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert marked for the sixth kick return of over 40 yards against the Texas kickoff team this season. The Longhorn kick-coverage team is fourth-to-last in the nation in yards given up per return, and their punt coverage team is eight-to-last. Field position will be key against the top ranked passing offense in Texas Tech, whose return team has six returns of over 30 yards on the season. The Red Raiders’ kick return team averages 23 yards a return behind freshman wide receiver Reginald Davis and junior defensive back Austin Stewart. Tech’s kick and punt coverage teams both rank in the bottom half in the nation. Their field goal team has been sound as junior kicker Ryan Bustin has made each of his last eight field goal attempts.

Advantage: Texas Tech