LUBBOCK, Texas – Tommy Tuberville would love to give Texas Tech fans what they savored when Texas last came to town: bragging rights.
"There's some games you have at every school that your fans have a passion about," said Tuberville, who will coach his first Big 12 game Saturday night against the No. 6 Longhorns. "When I was in all those rival games at Auburn, at Ole Miss, at Miami, that's what you feel like: Do this, and your fans have the opportunity to be able to strut a little bit."
Texas, naturally, has other plans for the Big 12 opener for both teams. And this week has included a lot of chatter about that last visit back in 2008 when the Red Raiders stunned the top-ranked Longhorns 39-33 on a final-second touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree.
This time around, the Longhorns secondary is more experienced and should be ready for the Red Raiders' pass-heavy offense, while a revamped and more complex Texas Tech defense deals with a 'Horns offense that's running more than passing.
Texas safety Scott Christian said interceptions have been a hot conversation topic lately.
"We feel turnovers will be key in a game like this," he said.
Texas Tech receivers know what they're in for, said Austin Zouzalik, who's caught one of Taylor Potts' seven TD passes this season. Potts and his teammates rank 11th in passing offense (334.5 yards per game).
"It's well known all over the country that they are an athletic bunch, a well-coached bunch," Zouzalik said of the Longhorns. "They are always fast, and they are always fundamentally sound. We aren't going to get away with as much with sloppy routes."
It will be the first meeting for Mack Brown and Tuberville as head coaches. In the 1991 Cotton Bowl, Tuberville coached the Miami defense and the Hurricanes beat the Longhorns 46-3. Three years later and with Tuberville in the same job at Texas A&M, the Aggies beat Texas 34-10 in a Southwest Conference clash.
Brown is concerned about penalties (averaging 55 yards a game) and a dearth of turnovers. The Longhorns (2-0) have gotten only one fumble and one interception. They'll be facing Potts, who has not thrown an interception this year.
"We need to stay on the field offensively," said Brown, who is 3-3 in six trips to Lubbock.
And Texas wants to get on the scoreboard sooner.
"We've only scored three points in the first quarter of the first two games," Brown said. "We've scored 41 points in the second quarter."
Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert is young and inexperienced, Tuberville said, but grew up a lot when he had to replace Colt McCoy in January's 37-21 loss to Alabama in the national title game.
Potts, a senior, has more experience, and he's played against Texas and in other big games.
"I think that's an advantage for us," Tuberville said. "Who makes the least mistakes I think that will be a huge factor between those two guys.
Of course, Tech's defense will be tested on the ground as well as in the air. And after last week, that gives Tuberville some pause: The Red Raiders gave up 433 yards and 23 first downs in their 52-17 win at New Mexico.
"They're going to run it down hill. They're going to play action," Tuberville said. "It'll be interesting to see how we hold our own defensively in terms of executing what we've tried to do the first two weeks, which we've done pretty well at times and sometimes we haven't looked very good."
A win over a "very good" Texas team likely jump Texas Tech into the Top 25, said Tuberville, though he thinks his team is already there.
"You know that really doesn't make any difference when you got to put a game plan together," he said.
What might make a difference is the game is in Lubbock.
"It is hostile," said Christian, the Texas safety. "It seems a little different for me than any other atmosphere, but the game is still played the same way so you just try to tune out the atmosphere."