More Recent Stories
OU vs. Tech Matchups
On Sale at Newsstands Now!
Who has the edge?
How They Match Up is a weekly feature in every issue of Sooner Spectator during football season
Oklahoma running game vs. Texas Tech run defense
OU running back Adrian Peterson finally got going again versus Nebraska, and the offensive line and blocking scheme was at its best. Things got even better against A&M, where Peterson and backup Allen Patrick rolled up yards. Barring further injuries, the Sooners will be able to pound Peterson at opposing defenses for the rest of the season. Jacob Gutierrez and Donta Hickson return to provide depth, and Kejuan Jones seems to be regaining his old form.
Last year, teams ran for 176.2 yards per game against the Red Raiders. This year, thatâ€™s down to 139.4. The reason is better play up front, particularly by DE Keyunta Dawson, DT Ken Scott, LB Fletcher Session and FS Dwayne Slay. Slay leads the team in tackles (79 through nine games) and tied a Big 12 record with eight forced fumbles.
Oklahoma passing game vs. Texas Tech pass defense
Against Nebraska and Texas A&M, OU quarterback Rhett Bomar made clutch plays â€” a sign of more growth and good things to come. Also, the young receiver threesome, led by Malcolm Kelly, continue to emerge as targets. The return of Travis Wilson was a boon. The Cornhuskers, who hadnâ€™t recorded less than four sacks in a game this season, got to Bomar only once against the OU line. A&M just twice.
FS Slay is the linchpin of a vastly improved defense. SS Vincent Meeks is also a fierce hitter, and CBs Khalid Naziruddin and Antonio Huffman combined for three INTs and three fumble recoveries during Techâ€™s 8-1 start. The Red Raiders allowed just 186.4 yards per game through the air despite the pass rush generating just 15 sacks.
Oklahoma offensive line vs. Texas Tech defensive line
OU center Chris Chesterâ€™s is healed enough for him to be full speed, but a hand injury will keep him away from center. His replacement, Chris Bush, also broke a hand and had to move back to guard. J.D. Quinnâ€™s progress was slowed by an off-the-field incident, but Jon Cooper was starting to take snaps away from him. Chris Messnerâ€™s maturation continues as well â€” heâ€™s becoming one of the Soonersâ€™ most reliable blockers.
DE Dawson (260) leads the Tech linemen in tackles and is the teamâ€™s best pass rusher. He also forced two fumbles. DTs Chris Hudler (290) and Scott (315) are large, but not imposing. DE Brett Bischofberger (283) is more run-stopper than pass rusher. The front four does a good job manning blockers for the pack-hunt mentality of Techâ€™s small LBs (233, 229, 228).
Oklahoma special teams vs. Texas Tech special teams
Itâ€™s another road game, so OU kicker Garrett Hartley might have problems in Lubbock, especially if the wind is blowing. Hartley is just 6-of-12 on field goals away from Owen Field this year. Snafus â€” bad snaps, botched holds, missed kicks, fumbled punt returns, key injuries, missed assignments â€” have plagued the OU specialists lately.
Techâ€™s longest punt return (by Danny Amendola) is just 35 yards, and its longest kick return (by Shannon Woods) is also 35. The Raiders also rank last in the Big 12 (102nd nationally) in net punting (30.2). PK Alex Trlica started the year 55-of-55 on PATs and 10-of-13 on FGs.
Texas Tech running game vs. Oklahoma run defense
Through nine games, RB Taurean Henderson got 120 handoffs, an average of 13.3 per game. In his previous three seasons, Henderson averaged 10.9, 9.5 and 13.5. Henderson averaged 84.1 yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry, with 16 TDs, but is more dangerous as a receiver. Backup Shannon Woods averages 7.2 yards per carry and QB Cody Hodges is a threat to run.
Going into the bye week, OU led the country in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (69.2), which is mostly a product of strong tackles, active linebackers and pass-rushing ends. Those figures changed after A&M rolled up almost 300 yards on the ground. Prior to that, only one opponent (Texas) had put up more than 100 yards on the Sooners, and three of the previous five before A&M had failed to surpass 22 yards. OU coaches say theyâ€™ll focus on stopping the run, but thatâ€™s not a problem against Tech.
Texas Tech passing game vs. Oklahoma pass defense
Sounds impossible, but QB Cody Hodges is putting up better numbers than his predecessors. In his first nine games as a starter, Hodges completed 68 percent of his passes, averaged 384.6 yards per game and tossed 27 TDs with just nine INTs. The receiver corps of Robert Johnson, Joel Filani, Jarrett Hicks, Amendola and Bristol Olumua â€” and RB Henderson â€” are better than ever (261 catches, 3,297 yards, 27 TDs).
Coverage problems exist throughout OUâ€™s secondary, but a stout run defense and solid pass rush have helped covered them up for the most part. This is the litmus test. Techâ€™s quick routes wonâ€™t allow for consistent pressure on the QB, so the Sooner DBs and LBs have to lock down everything underneath and, most importantly, donâ€™t miss tackles. Expect OU to run frequent zone blitzes to disguise zones and trick Hodges.
Edge: Texas Tech
Texas Tech offensive line vs. Oklahoma defensive line
LT Glenn January (6-7, 294), LG E.J. Whitley (6-7, 302), C Brandon Jones (6-4, 316), RG Manuel Ramirez (6-4, 339) and RT Gabe Hall (6-4, 285) have impressive mass, but allowed 25 sacks through nine games (last yearâ€™s team gave up 26 all season). They run-block well, though. Including reverses, Tech averages 6.4 yards per rush on running plays.
OUâ€™s defensive line will be challenged in an entirely different way. With Techâ€™s wide OL splits, the temptation is to charge wildly into the gaps, but the DLâ€™s best contributions this game will be to simply push the pocket backward, get their hands up and be ready to run and tackle. If OUâ€™s secondary can consistently cover, the Tech line is vulnerable to sacks.
Oklahoma coaching staff vs. Texas Tech coaching staff
Bob Stoops is 7-0 against former assistants Mike Leach and Mark Mangino. Techâ€™s offensive numbers under Leach have been staggering, but in five games against the Sooners, Tech has scored 13, 13, 15, 25 and 13 points.
Leach, perhaps frustrated by past failures against OU, has more speed than ever this year and will try to concoct something special for the OU scheme.
Bottom line is that Mike Leach is 0-5 against Stoops. Not only that, but the mighty Red Raider offense, built like a high-speed clipper ship, seems to be floating in oatmeal whenever the Sooners are on the field. Thereâ€™s no mental edge with Leach on the other side, but clearly the OU defensive staff of Brent Venables, Bobby Jack Wright and Jackie Shipp have had Leachâ€™s system figured out in the past.