Buckle-up, this one is going to be fun. Houston and Tech renew hostilities in Lubbock, a call back to some great Southwest Conference matchups. Here’s what we’re looking for on Saturday.
Can Tech Slow Houston Down?
Tech will see one of the most explosive offenses in college football on Saturday as D’Eriq King brings the Coogs to bear on the Red Raiders. Houston sits third in the FBS with 19 plays of 20 yards or more, right behind Oklahoma State and Hawaii. Kendal Briles is figuring out how to pull the trigger on all of Houston’s skill talent, last week Arizona had no chance to stop Houston and only slowed the Cougars down when Houston seemed to let off the gas. Don’t expect any idling by Houston’s attack this week. Tech allowed 47 to Ole Miss in week one before padding their stats against Lamar last weekend.
D’Eriq King completed just 50% of his passes, so Tech best bet is to force Houston to move down the field in smaller increments and try to limit the Cougar’s chunk or splash plays. Houston’s offense scores quickly and in bunches. Neither Arizona or Rice have forced Houston to execute in longer, sustained drives. That’s David Gibb’s challenge.
Meet Marquez Stevenson
Marquez Stevenson must’ve had a lot of pent up energy. The sophomore from Northwood Louisiana broke his collarbone as a true freshman and then tore his ACL the following spring. This season Stevenson is making up for lost time with seven catches and an average per catch of 21 yards. Two of his seven catches have ended in touchdowns. He’s added a rushing touchdown as well. Briles will find a way to Stevenson involved and if he gets space, watch out.
Game of Attrition
Expect Saturday’s game to be up and down, basketball on turf. That pace may benefit Tech more than Houston. Houston’s defense, though perhaps more talented than Tech’s isn’t as deep. When Houston made subs against Arizona, the Wildcats were able to show signs of life. With Tech putting so much pressure on Tech’s defense to defend the entire field, the Red Raiders may be able to find traction later in the game as Houston’s defense tires. Unlike last year’s game which ended in with neither team breaking the 30 point barrier, we’d expect this one to be more offensive.
Meet Alan Bowman
His entrance wasn’t according to plan, but Alan Bowman has made the most of his starting opportunity. Early in the opener against Ole Miss, starter McLane Carter went out with a rough looking ankle sprain. He’s questionable to return this week. A redshirt freshman from Grapevine, Bowman stepped into a tight spot against the Rebels defense but gave a good accounting in the loss. Bowman was the surprise backup, winning the reserve role over highly acclaimed sophomore Jett Duffey.
Last week Bowman was pretty close to perfect against Southland opponent Lamar. He ended his day completing 22 of 25 for 282 yards and two scores. Houston isn’t Lamar, but Kliff Kingsbury’s track record is nearly unblemished when it comes to excellent quarterback play, especially in his QB friendly offense.
Running Back By Committee
Houston’s rushing attack is a group effort thus far with Patrick Carr, Terence Williams, Mulbah Car, and D’Eriq King carrying the load. No Houston back has more than 20 carries through two games. Carr, King, and Car are each averaging over five yards per carry while Williams has slightly more carries with 19. Whether one, some, or all the backs are contributing doesn’t seem to matter because Houston is running the ball better and more efficiently than they did last season. Their two rushing afternoons are two of the top four rushing dates for Houston in the previous three seasons.
The Cougar rushing attack makes its passing game dangerous. Early in 2018, the Cougar rushing attack comes in waves.
In addition to Carter, the Red Raiders are missing several other vital contributors. Left tackle Travis Bruffy is questionable for the Houston game, in his place redshirt freshman Dawson Deaton got the call against Lamar. All-Big 12 safety Jah’Shawn Johnson injured his shoulder in a scrimmage during fall camp, and he’s questionable against the Cougars as well.
Running back Tre King is out with a knee injury, and Da’Leon Ward will play despite a groin injury that held him out last week’s game.