Stevens: Pass-Happy Red Raiders Can Run & Play Defense, Too

New Mexico Lobos at Texas Tech -- Lubbock, Texas

When/Where: 5 p.m. (MT), Saturday -- AT&T Stadium
Radio: 770 KKOB-AM, Lobo Radio Network; pregame at 2 p.m.
TV: Fox College Sports
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Story, Stats

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

A few rumors about Texas Tech Red Raider football need to be put to rest.

1. It's not true that (because he won't be needed in 2012), the Raiders have cut their punter.
2. The backup quarterback really isn't better than Seth Doege. But the backup is pretty good.
3. The Raiders really aren't going 50-50 pass-run in 2012, even though it was 47 pass plays to 46 run plays in the season-opening romp over Northwestern State.

To quickly put the Raiders' into offensive perspective, here are a few stats and facts from their 2-0 start:

1. They average 51 points, 545 total yards and 363 passing yards per game.
2. Seth Doege has completed 72.7 percent of his passes and threw for five TDs this past Saturday vs. Texas State.
3. They have punted only once in two games.
4. The Raiders average 182.5 yards rushing at 5.3-yards per carry.

Lobo Coach Bob Davie knows that a high-octane offense is waiting for his Lobos (1-1) this Saturday in Lubbock.

Sure, Texas Tech isn't as highly regarded as Texas, but the Red Raiders love to throw points on the board, have reinvested in defense, and are out to prove that the bowl-less season of 2011 was a fluke.

"In a lot of ways, Texas Tech is going to be a bigger challenge (than Texas)," said Davie. "They are going to come in and throw the ball 55 or 60 times. This week may be tougher than (Texas)."

The main man in the Red Raiders' offense is the 6-foot-1 Doege. The senior is considered one of the top arms in NCAA football. Doege, like all Red Raiders, wants to make up for last year's 5-7 season that left Raiders scrambling to find a TV in order to partake in the bowl season.

The Raiders weren't bad on offense last year. Doege threw for 4,004 yards (398-of-581), completed 68 percent of his throws for an average of 333.7 per game. Tech was 13th in the nation in total offense in 2011 at 470.58 yards per game, scoring 33.8 points per game.

Not bad.

Where the Red Raiders were bad was on defense. Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville made some coaching changes on the defensive side and brought in a new defensive coordinator, Art Kaufman.

Oh, this doesn't mean that Tuberville will go conservative on offense. "That's what we do," he said of launching the ball skyward. But Tuberville is trying to install a respectable run game and he also saw in 2011 what happens to a team that can't defend.

Tech lost its last five games in 2011, including 52-20 to Texas, 66-6 to Oklahoma State and 66-42 to Baylor. Tuberville said after the Baylor loss that his Raiders "couldn't stop anybody."

Part of the Tech's plan to revamp in 2012 means stopping people. The Red Raiders did exactly that to Northwestern State and to Texas State, who likes to attack out of an option.

Tech destroyed Northwestern State in the opener: 37 first downs to six, 500 total yards to 84. Northwestern State had 13 yards on the ground and had no rushing first downs, averaging 0.5 yards on 28 carries. Texas State had 129 yards rushing.

Tech also has a new offensive line coach and the plan there is to help the Tech passing game by forcing teams to take the Tech running game seriously. Tech threw the ball 47 times, completing 33 passes for 321 yards against Northwestern U. The Raiders also added a solid 179 yards on the ground.

Red Raider Kenny Williams ran for 74 yards with a 4.9 average per tote. Eric Stephens ran for 58 yards and SaDale Foster had 44 yards.

The run helped the Tech passing game vs. Northwestern. The Tech passing game put the Texas State defense on its heels and Tech runners tore up the field in San Marcus.

Williams had 62 yards on five carries for a 12.4 average. Stephens had 62 yards on six carries for a 10.5 average. Foster had 56 yards averaging 5.2 per carry. Tech averaged 8.1 yards per carry vs. Texas State.

Tuberville says if teams want to give his Raiders the run, "we'll run."

Tech picked its spots well when it came to running the ball in that 58-10 pounding of the Dennis Franchione-coached Bobcats. That's because Doege tied his career high (set against UNM) by tossing for five touchdowns. The Bobcats were backing up at the snap.

Tech beat Texas State 50-10 in 2011, but the Bobcats were coming off a 30-13 win over Houston and weren't supposed to go down so easily this time. Doege quickly changed that. He completed 11 of 14 passes for three touchdowns before Texas State could complete a pass.

Tech hit early and quickly, scoring 21 first-quarter points, the first TD an 88-yard interception return by Cody Davis.

Doege obviously is the man for Tech this season. But he might be even more effective in 2012 with less impressive numbers - if Tech's running game holds up. He might have better numbers in 2012, if the Tech defense keeps the enemy's offense off the field more in 2012.

So far, Doege's passing yardage is below last year's pace partly because Tech has been running the ball well and partly because lopsided scores have given Doege some bench time.

Doege went 23-34-1 for 199 yards vs. Northwestern University and redshirt freshman Michael Brewer took over going 10-of-13 for 122 yards. Brewer went 7-for-11 vs. Texas State for 72 yards. Brewer has a higher efficiency rating than Doege - 166.2 to 165.6 - and Brewer has completed 70.8 percent of his passes.

Tech's offensive numbers against Texas State were scary: 591 total yards and 405 passing yards. Tech still had 186 on the ground. Tech had 32 first downs to 16 for Texas State.

Tech also is loaded with receivers. The Red Raiders have 15 receivers with two to ten receptions in the two games. Two of the top three receivers vs. Texas State - Javon Bell and Darrin Moore - didn't catch a pass against Northwestern State. Moore was suspended for Tech's first game.

The Lobos were concerned about Texas speed and that concern does not go away in Lubbock. The Raiders made off-season commitments to running the ball and to defense. They also went out and tried to get faster.

"We have more speed on the team," said Tuberville. That might not bode well for UNM. The slower Red Raiders beat UNM 59-13 last year in Albuquerque.