Texas Tech 'Air Raid' offense next for BUOct. 6, 2000
By RISHI SRIRAM
After Iowa State University dominated Baylor 31-17 last week, the Bears must now enter into red October -- a month in which Baylor will play Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, the University of Nebraska and the University of Texas. In a row.
First in line, the Red Raiders.
Both Baylor (2-2 overall, 0-1 in the Big 12) and Texas Tech (4-1, 0-1) lost their Big 12 openers last week and look to rebound Saturday in Lubbock. The Red Raiders are explosive this season under head Coach Mike Leach, the former offensive coordinator of the aggressive Oklahoma offense. The Red Raider offense ranks third in the Big 12 and 10th in the nation with 299.4 yards passing per game.
Texas Tech's top gun is quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, who has helped form the 'Air Raid' offense into one of the nation's best units.
In five games, Kingsbury has already covered 1,405 yards in the air with an impressive 62.7 completion percentage. His nine touchdowns, however, are countered by the same number of interceptions. The Red Raiders do not hesitate to take risks offensively and attack with the passing game.
In the backfield, Ricky Williams has returned after a season-ending knee injury in the opening game of 1999. Williams has gained 257 yards and one touchdown, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Of course, he could turn that around against a Baylor defense that allowed 308 rushing yards to Iowa State.
Besides running and blocking, Texas Tech has also used its backs as weapons in the passing game. Ricky Williams has 21 catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while fullback Shaud Williams has 25 catches for 177 yards.
The go-to receiver for Kingsbury is wide out Tim Baker, who already has 29 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns. He has already doubled his touchdown receptions from all of 1999.
Wide receiver Carlos Francis has had almost the same impact with 20 catches for 316 yards and a touchdown. He is Tech's fastest player, with 4.3 second speed in the 40-yard dash and averages 24.5 yards per kick return.
Texas Tech's offensive line is smaller than other Baylor opponents, averaging 280 pounds across the front. The line has allowed 14 sacks in just five games, which will give the Baylor defense an opportunity to put pressure on Kingsbury. The linemen are also relatively young, with junior left guard Lance Williams as the oldest player. Two of the starters, right guard Casey Keck and center Toby Cecil, are freshmen.
The Red Raider defense is ranked second in the nation against the pass and 32nd against the rush. A pair of defensive lineman, Dorian Pitts and Aaron Hunt, each have three sacks, while Robert Wyatt and Lawrence Flugence have two sacks each. Texas Tech has four starters returning on defense this season.
Baylor will not have a chance to win this game unless they stop the Red Raider rushing game and force them to pass. The Bears need to force turnovers in the air and score touchdowns off of them. In head Coach Kevin Steele's 15- game tenure, Baylor is 3-0 when winning the turnover battle and 0-12 when losing or tying in turnover margin.
Against Iowa State, Baylor had the ball inside the Cyclone five-yard line twice, but produced only three points. Without home field advantage, Baylor cannot sacrifice touchdowns for field goals.
This season, Baylor has shown signs of improvement and a lot of potential, but the Bears have yet to take advantage of big opportunities. Baylor has not had a Big 12 win under Steele, and will need near-perfect execution to upset Tech in its homecoming game.