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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Football

Week 1 Gridiron Spotlight: Texas Tech versus Ole Miss will give Houston clues


Texas Tech beat Houston 27-24 last season to give UH its first loss of the season.  | Thomas Dwyer / The Cougar

Throughout the course of this season, The Cougar will shine a spotlight on a non-UH game that could have the biggest effect on the team each week, either in the American Athletic Conference or in the national rankings.

This week’s spotlight game is Texas Tech hosting Ole Miss, since UH will have to travel to Lubbock just two weeks later. So, what do we know about Texas Tech?

Quarterback is the most important position in football, especially in an offense like the Air Raid that Texas Tech employs.

After losing Patrick Mahomes to the first round of the NFL draft following the 2016 season, Tech replaced him with Nic Shimonek, who did not represent a huge statistical drop off. In fact, Shimonek threw for over 300 yards and led Tech to a win in UH’s stadium.

However, Shimonek went to the NFL and Tech was in need of a new starting quarterback. Tech has yet to name a starting quarterback for the upcoming season, but signs seem to point to junior McLane Carter.

Carter played in four games last season but started only one. He threw for 359 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in what little action he saw.

Tech’s issue in recent years has been its defense. Over the last five seasons, the Red Raiders have given up an average of almost 6,000 yards per season. In that same time frame, it has finished No. 92, No. 124, No. 127,  No. 128 and No. 96 in total defense.

While Ole Miss players have never been known as barn burners on offense, the team has averaged over 5,825 yards of offense over the last four seasons, virtually identical to Houston’s average of 5,766 yards per season. This means Ole Miss’ offense could provide an interesting measuring stick against the Red Raiders’ defense.

While you never root for your opponents in sports, the Cougars find themselves in a position where they have to hope the Red Raiders can pull a win against the Rebels.

As documented previously, the Cougars don’t have an impressive schedule this season, which means they need opponents like Texas Tech to rack up numerous wins this year.

A dream scenario would be for Tech to go 11-1 this season, with the one loss obviously coming against Houston. Tech has four games against teams that are currently ranked in the top 25. If Houston could be the only team to hand Tech a loss, then that would make Houston’s schedule a bit stronger.

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