Behind Enemy Lines
As part of the FanSided college division Ole Hotty Toddy is a part of a network of almost 300 sites. One of those sites is called Wreckem Red and, yes you guessed it, it is a site dedicated to Texas Tech and the Red Raiders. This week Wreckem Red site expert and contributor Matthew Conner and I exchanged a few thoughts and opinions on our respective teams as we head into the season opener. Matthew shed light on a few of my own questions about the Red Raiders and may have even eased a few concerns.
Since the Mike Leach era at Texas Tech the Red Raiders program has not seen the same success and the fans have since been hungry for that kind of team in Lubbock. I asked Matthew if he believed Kliff Kingsbury was close to having that kind of success and if 2018 could be the year it happens?
"“Tech has averaged just six wins per season over the past decade. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the year Kingsbury gets the program back to that level. He has finally figured out how to field a representative defense, which many wondered if he ever would, but ironically, his offense looks to be less potent than the typical Texas Tech offenses of the past.” ~Matthew Conner, Wreckem Red"
2017 was an up and down season for the Red Raiders who wound up finishing 6-7. There were times when the Red Raiders were really good and at times equally as bad. I asked Matthew what he believed were some of the problems he saw which contributed to the Jekyll and Hyde Texas Tech team.
"“The biggest problem last year was inconsistent quarterback play, a vulnerable secondary and the kicking game.” ~Matthew Conner, Wreckem Red"
More With Wreckem Red
As of now the Red Raiders have yet to officially announce the starter at quarterback for Saturdays game. I asked Matthew what was up with the situation and who he believed would get coach Kliff Kingsbury’s stamp of approval. I also asked him who would he start if he were Kingsbury.
"“All media reports indicate that junior McLane Carter will get the start and that is not a popular decision with the fans. The lefty made one start last year against Texas and was less than impressive. All media reports indicate that junior McLane Carter will get the start and that is not a popular decision with the fans. The lefty made one start last year against Texas and was less than impressive. I would start sophomore Jett Duffey because of his incredible athleticism. He is a game-breaker who could add a dimension to the offense with his legs that we haven’t seen before.” ~Matthew Conner, Wreckem Red"
While there may be with the Texas Tech offense I believe the Red Raiders defense is good with a very experienced and talented secondary. I asked Matthew if he believed the Tech secondary was would be able to handle what some people believe will is one of the best if not the best WR corps in the country.
"“I know the narrative is that the Texas Tech defense is back from the dead but I have been trying to caution all Tech fans to tap the brakes a bit. Tech still finished outside the top 100 in total defense last year (104 overall) and gave up yards in chunks. What bodes well for Ole Miss is that Tech struggled to cover big receivers.” ~Matthew Conner, Wreckem Red"
Wreckem Red’s Prediction
Up to this point Wreckem Red hasn’t shown very much confidence in the Red Raiders so I figured I would put him to the ultimate test. Finally I asked Matthew to give me his brief summary of how the game might progress and to give me his prediction for the Ole Miss/Texas Tech season opener. The answer may surprise some Ole Miss football fans.
"“In the end, I always tend to side with the team that has the better QB and by default, that is Ole Miss. Both teams are flawed and have huge question marks on one side of the ball. But I think that Tech’s question marks, especially at the most important position on the field, are greater than the Rebels and that will be the difference. I predict the Rebels to win 35-24 as Ta’amu and those receivers make enough big plays to pull it out.” ~Matthew Conner, Wreckem Red"
I have to admit I was just a little surprised myself by Matthews answers and his final prediction. However you can’t ever tell what he has seen and heard from the Texas Tech camp. I do wish Matthew good luck and we will be revisiting Matthew and Wreckem Red later in the week. Now it’s time for OHT’s summary and prediction for the game.
OHT’s Forecast & Final
While I am much more at ease about this season opening game I am still seeing red flags pop up in the Tech secondary. They are very good at creating takeaways so the Rebels have to protect the ball. I feel coach Matt Luke and Phil Longo will open with the running game and run until Texas Tech stops them. There will be some passing mixed in just to keep the Red Raiders honest but the Rebels really want to see Scottie Phillips get significant touches.
If the Rebels are unable to successfully move the ball on the ground you can expect to see the fast paced Longo offense open up the passing game. Personally I believe the NWO creates so much distraction on the field Saturday that the run game can be successful. Regardless of whether the Rebels rushing attack is effective or not the Ole Miss WRs should be able to put up good numbers. I just simply can’t imagine Texas tech being able to shut the NWO down for 60 minutes when the Longo offense is running wide open.
This is one of those games which will be a nail biter in the first half. I do believe Ole Miss football has the better team despite 2017 their records and similarities. Ole Miss is going to be able to move the move the ball and score points. How much and how many depend on just how good the Red Raiders defense really is but I don’t see the depth to hang with the Rebels in the second half. I see the Rebels defense being in a bend but don’t break mode early but regroup and make some big plays. I just don’t see where the Tech offense matches up well with the Rebels defense. Ole Miss opens it up in the second half.
OHT’s Week-One Final
Ole Miss 42
Texas Tech 31
We will see the 2018 edition of Ole Miss football on the field this Saturday as the Rebels take on the Texas Red Raiders in Houston, Texas. Kickoff for the SEC/Big12 matchup is set for 11am CT and will be televised via ESPN. Good luck to coach Matt Luke and the Rebels in their season opener. BEAT TECH! Are you ready?