Texas Tech Red Raiders
CONFERENCE RECORD: 0-0
NEXT OPPONENT: Louisiana Tech
LOCATION: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
BETTING LINE: Arizona State -5
OVER/UNDER: 80 (via OddShark)
Arizona State Sun Devils
CONFERENCE RECORD: 0-0
NEXT OPPONENT: UTSA
Texas Tech Player to Watch: Devin Lauderdale
Lauderdale had the most receptions in Tech’s game against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. However, he only recorded 49 yards. Last year, Lauderdale was much more of a deep threat so it will be interesting to see if he keep up with his apparently new role of short-to-medium yard passes. The reason for this may be how impressive Tech’s receiving corps is, with great players like Ian Sadler, Cameron Batson, Derrick Willis, and Ja’Deion High. There may simply not be room for another deep threat on this impressive roster. That being said, with Mahomes throwing the ball, Lauderdale is guaranteed to have plenty of receptions and receiving yards.
Arizona State Player to Watch: Manny Wilkins
The last few years of Sun Devil football, there has reliably been a good quarterback, from Brock Osweiler to Taylor Kelly to Mike Bercovici. This year, new face Manny Wilkins, only a sophomore, is the starter. In ASU’s first game against Northern Arizona, Wilkins showed he is still working on his throwing, although he looked great when running the ball. It took until the end of the third quarter for the Sun Devils to pull away from Northern Arizona. It’ll be up to Wilkins if the Sun Devils have a chance to beat the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech Position Group Previews
OFFENSIVE LINE: Le’Raven Clark was a star, but now he’s gone. The O-Line looked pretty solid against the Lumberjacks, and they should be able to protect Mahomes Saturday night.
TIGHT ENDS: Texas Tech doesn’t have what you’d call a true tight end. However, their amazing receivers are often lined up as tight ends, thus making this position a strength.
RUNNING BACKS: Justin Stockton did not run much last week, but he looked just as speedy as he was last year. Corey Dauphine and Quinton White also looked like future leaders on offense.
QUARTERBACKS: Patrick Mahomes is one of the many stars Kliff Kingsbury has produced at quarterback. Mahomes is a Roethlisberger-esque quarterback, with a great arm and is tricky to bring down in the backfield. Nic Shimonek as a back-up looks solid as well.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Texas Tech’s strongest position by far is wide receiver. Plenty of second-stringers at Tech could be stars at other Power 5 schools. Tech had 633 passing yards last week, and almost all of it was through stars like Dylan Cantrell, Cameron Batson, Jonathan Giles, and the aforementioned Devin Lauderdale.
DEFENSIVE LINE: While D-Line was a crippling weakness last year, this year they certainly look to be in much better shape. Unfortunately, much better than last year is still bottom-tier. Hopefully, they’ll be able to stop a dual-threat QB like Wilkins.
LINEBACKERS: Malik Jenkins and D’Vonta Hinton both turned in solid performances against SFA, which is a great sign. The losses of Dakota Allen and Micah Awe may be covered by the two better than we first thought.
SECONDARY: The secondary is Texas Tech’s defensive strength. In the pass-happy Big 12, this is a a great thing, but Arizona State is a more balanced team. That being said, players like Jah’Shawn Johnson, Tevin Medison, and Justis Nelson should be able to shut down receivers most of the time and hopefully come up with an interception or two.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Cameron Batson was a very good punt returner last week, with Reginald Davis and Keke Coutee fielding kickoffs. All three are explosive and have the potential to score. Clayton Hatfield looked great in his sophomore year, and Michael Barden punted well on the rare occasion Tech didn’t score.
COACHING: The Red Raiders are headed by fourth-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs is perhaps the most important part of the coaching staff, as he hopes to bring consistency to a notoriously bad defense.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
This game is sure to be very entertaining. The two schools were once paired in the Border Conference, but Texas Tech and Arizona State rarely played. Both of these teams are more offensive oriented, and both feature a suspect defensive group (D-line at Tech, secondary at ASU). However, there are also many differences. While Patrick Mahomes is a seasoned star, Manny Wilkins is starting only his second game. Tech has about 10 receivers that consistently get receptions, while most of the Sun Devil passing game is built around Tim White and N’Keal Henry. Even though the game is in Tempe and the Red Raiders have a lot to prove on defense, I see this game as a shootout, and I find it hard to convince myself a Wilkins-led Arizona State team can outscore the Red Raiders. I see the game as close through three quarters, before Mahomes get really hot in the fourth and Tech pulls away. Lots of points will be scored, and the game should be a great closing act to a weak Saturday slate.
Prediction: Texas Tech 59, Arizona State 48
Credit for Cover Picture: @TexasTechFB on Twitter.
Arizona State Position Group Previews
OFFENSIVE LINE: Arizona State had a great game on the ground, and the offensive line deserves credit. They should be able to block Tech’s still developing D-Line easily.
TIGHT ENDS: ASU’s tight end didn’t catch a pass last weekend. Most of them are underclassmen, but senior Kody Kohl could have a big game if the Red Raiders focus too much on the receivers.
RUNNING BACKS: The Sun Devils pulled off the impressive feat of having a running QB and a great RB. DeMario Richard performed great in the NAU game, and he complements Wilkins perfectly.
QUARTERBACKS: Manny Wilkins made typical young quarterback mistakes, but overall he had a solid debut. He was the leading rusher with 89 yards last Saturday, and he may break 100 against this Red Raider defense.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Tim White had 95 receiving yards, over half of Wilkins’ total passing yards. He and N’Keal Henry figure to be favorite targets this week.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Arizona State’s D-Line had the weakest performance in the defense last week. However, JoJo Wicker and Tashon Smallwood anchor a unit that has the potential to become a strength with development,
LINEBACKERS: DJ Calhoun was the leader on defense last week, and he should continue that trend this week. ASU’s linebackers may be athletic enough to at least help with coverage of the Tech passing attack.
SECONDARY: Kareem Orr and Armand Perry both had solid games last week, but they were often beat deep. They’ll need the games of their careers in order to stop the Red Raider offense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Explosive receiver Tim White was the returner last week, and he put up respectable numbers. However, four-year starting kicker Zane Gonzalez missed an extra point, an inexcusable mistake that can’t be repeated.
COACHING: The Sun Devils head man is fifth-year Todd Graham. After a very successful start that saw Arizona State ranked often, last year’s 6-7 was a wake-up slap. This year Arizona State is expected to repeat their record in the brutal Pac-12 South.