Stillwater, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of 2-1 teams kick off Big 12 Conference play on Thursday night, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders pay a visit to the 24th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Kliff Kingsbury's Red Raiders began the season with a pair of narrow victories over Central Arkansas (42-35) and UTEP (30-26), but then dropped a double- digit decision at home to Arkansas (49-28). Texas Tech had a bye last weekend to regroup and game plan for the start of conference play, but late last week defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt resigned due to personal reasons.
"I have submitted my resignation to Coach Kingsbury effective immediately because I want the best for the Red Raider program, and this will allow them to go in a different direction on defense," Wallerstedt said. "I love our players and this school and have only their best interest in my heart and mind. I wish Coach Kingsbury every success this season."
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith takes over as defensive coordinator on an interim basis.
Oklahoma State had the unenviable task of taking on defending national champion Florida State in the season opener, and while the Cowboys put forth a valiant effort, they came up short in a 37-31 final. Since then however, coach Mike Gundy's group has posted a pair of double-digit wins over Missouri State (40-23) and Texas-San Antonio (43-13). The Pokes also enjoyed a bye last week.
This is the third of four straight home games for OSU, which won't play its next road tilt until visiting Kansas on Oct. 11.
The all-time series between these two teams leans in favor of the Red Raiders, 21-17-3, but the Cowboys have won five straight and six of the last seven meetings overall. Texas Tech hasn't won in Stillwater since 2001.
Plenty of offensive fireworks are to be expected when these two teams meet. In fact, at least 72 points have been scored in five of the last seven matchups. Both teams possess potent passing attacks, with the Cowboys averaging 264 ypg and the Red Raiders 327.3 ypg through the air.
Davis Webb is set to be the next great Texas Tech gunslinger, as he has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 982 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. Jakeem Grant is the team's top receiver with 20 catches for 283 yards and a score, while Brad Marquez has brought in five TD receptions as part of his 18-grab, 251-yard effort. As for the Red Raiders' rushing attack, DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton combine to average more than 130 ypg, with three TDs between them.
Webb threw for 252 yards and three TDs, adding a rushing score, in the loss to Arkansas two weeks ago, while Grant finished with six catches for 85 yards and a TD. Three turnovers (two INTs by Webb) and the fact that the Red Raiders held the ball for only 19:21 played a significant role in the disappointing outcome.
Defense is the Red Raiders' Achilles' heel, as the team is being battered to the tune of 36.7 points and 432.7 yards per contest. They have been particularly inept trying to stop the run, as foes average just shy of 300 rushing yards per game while scoring 13 TDs. Their effort against the pass however, has been rock solid (135.0 ypg, one TD).
Arkansas rolled up 438 yards on the ground, averaging better than six yards per carry, and scoring seven TDs on the day. Sure the Razorbacks tallied only 61 passing yards, but they didn't need to air the ball out when they were as successful as they were hammering the line of scrimmage.
A dozen guys have made at least 11 tackles this season, but a glaring lack of impact plays (three sacks, two forced turnovers) has hurt the unit. Couple that with the fact the opponents have had very little trouble reaching the next level on just about every run play and it's not all that surprising that Wallerstedt resigned.
Pete Robertson led Tech with 10 tackles against the Hogs, and while the team pounced on a pair of fumbles, it did not record a sack and made only two stops behind the line of scrimmage.
Daxx Garman threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns, and Desmond Roland ran for 95 yards and two scores to power Oklahoma State to a 30-point win over UTSA the last time out.
Garman, who was making his first start since his junior year of high school some five years earlier, saw his second stint of extended action after throwing for 242 yards and two TDs against Missouri State in relief of injured starter J.W. Walsh.
Roland was solid in his return to the lineup after missing the previous game, as he averaged 4.5 ypc. Receivers Marcell Ateman and Jhajuan Seales combined for six catches and 145 yards.
Defensively, the Cowboys allowed only 11 first downs and 206 total yards to the Roadrunners. UTSA averaged a mere 3.2 yards per offensive play and was successful on only 3-of-17 third-down conversion attempts.
Jordan Sterns paced the Pokes with eight tackles, while Josh Furman was credited with two of the team's three sacks. Ashton Lampkin finished off the scoring by returning an interception 50 yards for a TD as time ran out in the fourth quarter.
With regard to season averages, OSU is scoring 38 ppg while allowing 24.3 ppg, and it is outgaining the opposition by nearly 90 ypg. The Cowboys have come away with points on all 14 of their visits to the red zone, but only half of them have been touchdowns.
Neither quarterback has been all that efficient running Gundy's offense, hitting less than 60 percent of their passes, but they haven't made many mistakes (one INT). Garman has thrown for 559 yards, four TDs and no picks in his two games, and while no receiver has really stepped up to become the go-to guy, 12 players have caught at least one pass. The same can be said for the ground attack, as no one on the roster has more than 135 yards (Tyreek Hill). The trio of Rennie Childs, Roland and Walsh have combined for all seven of the team's rushing scores.
Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich spoke after the UTSA game about the state of his unit as it gets set to embark on Big 12 play.
"I think we're making plays. We need to be more consistent, but overall, there were a lot of positives," Yurcich said. "It's really important to get the planning done so you can practice it a bunch of times and get extra reps at it. We'll take a look at it. We like our productivity, but there's a lot of room to improve as well."
Oklahoma State's strength on defense this season has been its play against the run (111.3 ypg, four TDs allowed). The Cowboys are yielding only 3.1 yards per rush, and they've permitting the opposition to move the chains on just 24 percent of their third-down tries (11-of-45). A lack of big plays has been an issue for the Pokes, as they've come up with only three takeaways, two on interceptions by Lampkin.
Ryan Simmons paces the unit with 21 tackles, 18 of which have been solo efforts, and Sterns is hot on his heels with 19 (16 unassisted).