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Kansas Football: Campanile Crystal Ball – Texas Tech

The Opponent

As the old saying goes, there’s no rest for the weary. After facing Baylor, a team that has the best offense in the FBS with by averaging 725 yards per game, KU now has the task of competing against a Texas Tech team that has the number two rated offense. Texas Tech is currently averaging 631 total yards per game and has 41 touchdowns through their first five games of the season.

The Texas Tech passing offense is currently ranked 1st in the nation with 439 passing yards per game. Leading the charge is starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes who has 19 touchdowns and 2,264 passing yards already this season, good for 3rd in the nation in that category. Mahomes is also 2nd in the nation in total offense and 3rd in points responsible for.

Texas Tech celebrating a fumble recovery during their victory over Arkansas (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

Texas Tech celebrating a fumble recovery during their victory over Arkansas (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)

Unlike last year, Texas Tech isn’t a one trick pony as the running game has also found success so far this season. After totaling just 8 rushing touchdowns as a team last year, Texas Tech already has 19 through the first 6 games of the season. DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech’s leading rusher last season, is leading the charge with 6 touchdowns and 586 yards rushing, good for an average of nearly 100 yards per game. Last year, Washington was only able found pay dirt 2 times. As a team Texas Tech is averaging 192 rushing yards per game to complement their dangerous passing offense.

Defensively, the Red Raiders have been struggling so far this season. The Texas Tech offense has needed every bit of their 52 points per game because their defense has allowed 40 points per game to opponents, including 45 points to FCS school Sam Houston State.

The Red Raiders are highly vulnerable to the run game, as their rush defense is one of the worst in the league. Allowing 283 yards rushing per game, the Texas Tech run defense has given up 18 rushing touchdowns and 1,702 total yards rushing to opposing backs this season. The Red Raiders have given up at least 3 rushing touchdowns in 4 of their 6 games this season. This is great news for the Jayhawks who are still trying to establish a passing game while depending on their run game.

5 Players To Watch

No. 5: QB Patrick Mahomes (6’3, 219, So.)

Simply put, Mahomes is the Texas Tech offense. Averaging an incredible 411 total yards of Texas Tech’s 631 total yards per game, Mahomes is putting up Heisman numbers early on this season. One of the best passing quarterbacks in the nation, he’s also quick on his feet and is very difficult to take down. The Heisman hopeful often faces pressure when he drops back to pass, being pressured on 22.7% of his throws, good for the fourth highest percentage in the Big 12. Despite that, Mahomes is currently tied with Baylor QB Seth Russell for fewest times sacked, only being brought down twice in 257 passing attempts. It’ll take a lot of effort from the KU defense front to knock him down.

No. 11: WR Jakeem Grant (5’7, 168, Sr.)

An All-Big 12 honorable mention last year, Grant is on his way to another solid season in his final year of college. He is Tech’s leading receiver by a large margin, accounting for 24% of Texas Tech’s receptions this season and averaging 108 receiving yards per game (40 more yards per game than the second leading receiver). He has 4 touchdowns on the season and is averaging nearly 15 yards per catch.

No. 3: DB J.J Gaines (6’0, 179, Sr.)

Texas Tech DB J.J. Gaines (3) defends a pass against former KU receiver Nick Harwell (8) (Nick Krug - KUSports)

Gaines (3) defends a pass against former KU receiver Nick Harwell (8) (Nick Krug – KUSports)

Another All-Big 12 honorable mention, Gaines is a large part of why opposing offenses have struggled scoring through the air against Texas Tech. Gaines currently leads the Red Raiders defense in interceptions with 4 on the year, including one he took back 47 yards for a touchdown in Tech’s first game of the season against Sam Houston State. Gaines is also second on the team in passes defended with 5, and fourth on the team in total tackles with 34.

No. 7: DB Jah’Shawn Johnson (5’10, 176, Rs-Fr.)

Jah’Shawn Johnson has been a complete menace to opposing offenses this year. While playing in the secondary, he is third on the team in total tackles with 43, and tied for second on the team for tackles for a loss with 3. He has also forced two fumbles and recovered both. The red shirt freshman only played four games last season but is looking to make a name for himself this year. He has already been named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week once following his 16 tackle outing against Arkansas.

No. 21: RB DeAndre Washington (5’8, 200, Sr.)

DeAndre Washington had a very interesting season last year. Though he racked up 1,103 yards rushing and an additional 328 yard receiving, good for an average of 119 total yards per game, he only found the end zone four times (twice while rushing and twice while receiving). This year he’s making up for lost time and has rushed for 6 touchdowns already. He earned All-Big 12 second team honors last season and looks to be on his way to another 1,000+ yards rushing year.

Wave The Wheat If…

KU gets the running game back into business. After averaging 239 yards per game in their first two games, KU has failed to have a running back eclipse the 50 rushing yards mark and as a team have failed to record more than 70 yards on the ground. This will be a prime opportunity to get the run game back in business. KU should be aiming to run for at least 150 yards on a very mediocre Texas Tech run defense.

Plough The Field If…

KU can’t get the running game back into business. If the Jayhawks fail to get momentum on the ground against a team allowing 283 yards rushing per game, there isn’t much hope they’ll get it going against anyone else in the Big 12. Defenses will only get tougher from here and the Jayhawks need a good running game if they wish to remain competitive this season and give their passing game a chance to throw off defenses.

Prediction

56-35 Texas Tech

Texas Tech has a power offense and can keep up with anyone in a shoot out, but their defense is very suspect and prone to making mistakes. Taylor Cox should have a break out game as he continues his return from a torn Achilles in 2014 and a medical redshirt in 2013, but Patrick Mahomes proves to be too much for the KU defense.