September 22, 2011

Ultimate Preview: Nevada

Preview: Offense | Defense Ask The Expert Matchups Game Predictions

When it came time to rating quarterback Seth Doege's record-setting performance in Texas Tech's win over New Mexico, coach Tommy Tuberville looked beyond Doege's 40 completions in 44 attempts.

"The thing that I was most impressed with, I know he can throw the ball, but you gotta throw it to the right guy and the person that's open and go through your reads," Tuberville said. "And I was more impressed with that than I was the 40 completions of throwing it to the right guy.

The Opponent
Who: Nevada Wolf Pack
Location: Reno, Nev.
Colors: Navy, Silver
Series Record: 1-0, Tech

Record: 1-1 (1-0 WAC)
National Ranking: N/A

Head Coach: Chris Ault
Record at UN: 220-98-1 (27)
Total Record: 220-98-1 (27)

Base Offense: Pistol
Base Defense: 4-3

The Game
When: Sept. 24, 6 p.m. CDT
Where: Lubbock, Texas
Venue: Jones AT&T Stadium (map)

TV: Fox College Sports
Radio: TTSN (affiliates), Sirius 91

Vegas Line: Tech -18

The Numbers
224: In the Red Raiders' first meeting with the Wolf Pack in 2008, Nevada rushed for 224 yards. In its first two games this season, UNR has rushed for 283 and 261 yards.

10: Tech has played 10 true freshman after two games this season, with two of them -- Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen -- notching starts.

3.5: The Red Raiders lead the Big 12 in fewest penalties per game with 3.5. Tech ranks No. 9 nationally in this category.

The Quote
"This is my first year. So to me Texas State, that was a Super Bowl game, New Mexico is another Super Bowl game. I'm so hyped up for every game, that's honestly how I felt before both those games. I felt like we were about to go play the Cowboys or something like that when we were about to go play Texas State and New Mexico. It's all new to me."
- Texas Tech DE Jackson Richards

"Sometimes you'll complete a ball, but it's not the right guy. You could go somewhere else, more production, and down the road you're going to have to make those right decisions.

"And Saturday he was on."

No doubt about that. Doege threw for 401 yards and five touchdowns in Tech's 59-13 romp past the Lobos.

Is a repeat coming when Tech is host to Nevada?

The Wolf Pack gave up 69 points to Oregon in its last outing, but Doege is taking nothing for granted.

"I know they're going to be ready to play us," Doege said. "So I think we need to concentrate on improving this week and being ready to play."

The home game against the Wolf Pack will wrap up Tech's non-conference schedule. The Raiders open Big 12 play at Kansas on Oct. 1.

-- Sports Xchange


RB Mike Ball - 43 att., 223 yards, two TDs - Ball is the reigning WAC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 124 yards and two scores against San Jose State. He ranks fourth in the WAC in all-purpose yards and is the only Nevada player to have caught a touchdown pass this season.

LB Brandon Marshall - 18 tackles, TFL, FF - Marshall leads Nevada and ranks fourth in the WAC in tackles. He is one of four Wolf Packers to notch a TFL on the season, and one of three defenders that has forced a turnover.

WR Rishard Matthews - 15 rec., 177 yards - Matthews, Nevada's leading receiver from a year ago, is the team's only real weapon in the passing game. His 7.5 receptions per game average leads the WAC, and he ranks third in the conference in yards per game.

-- Dickens


Tap The Brakes: When coming off of a blowout victory, it's important to not be overconfident. Since the Red Raiders curb stomped New Mexico 59-13, there's a possibility of overlooking an opponent like Nevada who got checked by Oregon two weeks ago. If Tech looks past the Wolf Pack, they may be in for a wild ride similar to the Texas State game.

Go With The Flow: After seeing how quickly Tech's offense can get into a groove, it's clear that they'll absolutely clown a few defenses this year. Several players and coaches said that just taking what the defense gives them was a key to the rhythm, so it will be important for Tech to do the same thing against Nevada's defense this week. Find a groove and roll with it.

Pistol Whipped: The Red Raiders frequently loaded the box with seven or even eight defenders against New Mexico, and I think they'll have to do the same thing in order to stop Nevada's potent run game. However, Tech's secondary will have to step up this week. They got lucky on several overthrown deep balls against the Lobos, and luck eventually runs out. Tech must play well against the run, but must also play much tighter coverage than they did a week ago. Nevada will gash you one way or another if you don't.

-- McKay


Texas Tech is 48-9 in home games since 2002, a winning percentage of 0.842 that ranks third in the Big 12 behind Texas and Oklahoma. In non-conference home games, Tech is 27-1 since 2000, beating their opponents by an average score of 48-16.

Tech lists 12 freshmen on its depth chart for this week, including three on the offensive line. LB Blake Dees and LB Sam Eguavoen are the only true freshmen that are expected to start on Saturday, but WR Bradley Marquez and DE Kindred Evans are listed as co-starters.

The Red Raiders are currently riding a five-game winning streak, second only to Oklahoma (7) in the Big 12.

DE Leon Mackey suffered a deflated lung injury as a result of a hit he took in the opener against Texas State and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks, if not the season.

Reserve LB Sam Fehoko and DL Pearlie Graves voluntarily left the Red Raider football program last week.

-- Dickens


Texas Tech
The Texas Tech air attack put up some great numbers in a 59-13 win against New Mexico while quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for completion percentage for quarterbacks throwing 40 or more completions in a game -- not an easy accomplishment regardless of the opponent.

Leading receiver Darrin Moore is fully healthy and Eric Ward had the best game of his Red Raider career against New Mexico which makes Tech's outside passing game look promising for Saturday.

On the opposite side of the ball, Nevada's pass defense comprises of several players who held Boise State's high-passing offense to the Broncos only loss of the season. However, they haven't looked very good this season.

Texas Tech
Nevada's front four has not been very good this season, but more on that later.

Through Tech's first two games, three running backs -- Eric Stephens, Ronnie Daniels and DeAndre Washington -- saw the bulk of the action. This week, senior running back Aaron Crawford returns after missing the New Mexico game and most of the Texas State game; he is expected to be the No. 2 back behind Stephens.

Stephens came close to breaking the 100-yard mark against New Mexico in a game where the Red Raiders' best option clearly was to attack through the air. With less talent, San Jose State rushed for 138 yards on Nevada.

Texas Tech
Depth still is a problem on the Red Raider offensive line but the starting five responded very well against New Mexico after a sloppy first half against Texas State. Tech's offensive front should be able to handle anything the Wolf Pack throws at them on Saturday.

On the other hand, the Nevada defensive line has just two sacks on the season and is a big part of the problem in struggles to stop the run.

Nevada's Mike Ball is the WAC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 124 yards and two scores against San Jose State last week. Backup Stefphon Jefferson added 74 yards against the Spartans.

Expect the Tech defense to key on Nevada's running game and force the Wolf Pack to try to beat the Red Raiders through the air.

Texas Tech
The Nevada game should be another tough one to gauge from a Tech secondary standpoint.

Nevada's best receiver, Brandon Wimberly, was shot in the offseason and will miss the entire season recovering from the wound. The rest of the receiving corps is inexperienced save Rishard Matthews who had 100 yards on eight grabs against San Jose State last week.

The Nevada quarterback situation is complicated. Senior starter Tyler Lantrip is in serious danger of losing his starting position to redshirt freshman Cody Fajardo and a change in the depth chart could come as early as a few drives into the Tech game. Lantrip is a passer whose accuracy has been sporadic early this season. If Fajardo comes in, the Wolf Pack will go with more of a running attack.

Through Nevada's first two games, the offensive line has only allowed one sack -- it came against Oregon -- and has obviously been big in the running game.

The matchup in the trenches between the Nevada offensive line and Tech's defensive line should be the most competitive of the game.

The Red Raider defensive line is largely young and inexperienced and the Nevada offensive line gives the Red Raiders a chance to sharpen its teeth before going into Big 12 Conference play. Or the Nevada game could expose a big weakness on defense.

Texas Tech
Kicker Donnie Carona has looked great in kickoffs, but has only had one field goal attempt for the Red Raiders this season. The Red Raiders have capable returners in Ben McRoy and Austin Zouzalik.

Nevada averages 20.5 yards on kick returns and -4.5 yards on punt returns but has only forced two punts through two games. Matthews returned both punts for -4.5 yards.

Wolf Pack kicker Anthony Martinez has scored on one-of-two field goal attempts. His score was an 18-yard attempt and the second attempt, about a 30-yard attempt, was blocked.

-- Graham

Dickens Graham McKay Gunter Cowan Hair Quarter
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