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Roundtable: Texas Tech

This week our staff answers questions about Texas Tech’s offense and how the Cowboys are going to stop Dakota Allen.

NCAA Football: Houston at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

We have officially reached Big 12 play. The Cowboys kick it off with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Our staff answered some of my questions about this Texas Tech team. Welcome to the week 4 roundtable.

1.) With both teams getting significant wins last weekend, how much of a role do you think that plays in Saturday’s game?

Louis Pineda: I think that the biggest confidence boost was with OSU. Not only did they beat a ranked opponent, but QB1 won over lots and lots of hearts in the process. His confidence will be sky-high, and the defense will be ready for the challenge. Beating a ranked Boise State squad is a much bigger accomplishment than barely beating Houston.

Grant Boston: While Texas Tech-Houston was a scintillating showcase of two top-10 NCAA offenses, it wasn’t exactly an exemplar of great defense. Houston only trailed 35-28 going into halftime, but had only one scoring drive of 10 plays or more in the second half. The Cowboys can’t afford to cede that many snaps to Alan Bowman and Coach Bro. Oklahoma State must prioritize steady, sustained drives over quick strikes.

Texas Tech’s offense will be high on confidence and champing at the bit as they take the field. The Cowboys should work to keep them on the sidelines as much as possible. Last week against Boise State, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich did a good job of distributing the carries between Justice Hill and Taylor Cornelius. I believe we will see even more designed runs for Cornelius and more touches for J.D. King. Finally, I expect Hill to have more impact as a receiver on quick passes.

Robert Whetsell: I’m so confused. Is Boise State that good? Is Houston that good? Is Ole Miss that good? I still feel like there are question marks about either team’s true stature.

Matt Harris: I think big week three wins are huge for both teams. Oklahoma State now has confidence on the defensive side of the ball heading in to a matchup with one of the premier offensive programs in the nation. Tech needed last weeks win because it showed that they could hang 60+ points and get a win against a team who isn’t a pushover (77-0 against Lamar doesn’t count).

Zach McCoy: The Cowboys have struggled following big wins at times, but I think Gundy does a better job of downplaying that stuff now than he used to. I think it just means that both teams come in with a lot of energy because they feel like they have something to play for (they do).

Joel Penfield: I think Oklahoma State still has the upper hand going into Saturday night. Alan Bowman had a great game and that gives some confidence to the true freshman. However, this is the first true road game for him in his career, so that gives Oklahoma State an advantage.

Ryan Harris: Both teams will come on confident that they can win this game, but it won’t be a huge factor. I think Tech’s desire to snap their losing streak against OSU will be a bigger factor. They always give OSU their best shot. That being said, Oklahoma State might be able to go undefeated until late in the year after beating Boise State. This is not a game that should be overlooked, and the Pokes should show up ready to play. I wouldn’t call this a rivalry, however, both teams usually get up for this game.

Colin Price:Both teams are coming in hot and are really starting to hit their stride. Tech’s Alan Bowman struggled when he was rushed into service against Ole Miss but has really started to come into his own and really made a name for himself with some video game numbers against a pretty solid Houston defense. Tech’s defense has been improving year-to-year but they still haven’t shown dominance against any FBS competition. OSU’s dealing with a little of the opposite with a defense exploding onto the scene and an offense starting to form a solid identity. Tomorrow’s game will be a next-step maturation for both sides of the ball for both teams and all 4 groups will be looking to prove themselves.

2.) The defense struggled a bit to defend the pass last week against Boise. With Tech’s run game not being great, what adjustments do you expect them to make to accommodate for an offense that’s pass heavy.

Louis Pineda: I don’t think Jim Knowles has the capacity to dial back the aggressiveness. I think the D comes out with blitzes and press coverage early in order to throw the young QB off his timing. The defense might only have to hold out for 3-4 series because our offense will score tons of points.

Grant Boston: Allan Bowman enjoyed such a clean pocket last week for his 59 passes, his garish white pants remained stain-free well into the fourth quarter.

For much of the game, Houston’s defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio appeared to lean on Heisman candidate Ed Oliver to generate pressure while they sat back in soft coverage, attempting to stay behind the speedy Tech receivers. It didn’t go well. Oliver struggled to make an impact, allowing Bowman to surgically dissect the Cougars.

Oklahoma State will need to do a better job of disrupting the pocket. I expect to see Calvin Bundage and Justin Phillips pressuring through the left side of the Tech offensive line, where Texas Tech’s left tackle Travis Bruffy and left guard Madison Akamnonu have struggled with injuries. If they can exploit this apparent weakness in the Red Raider offensive line, the Cowboys defense can make Bowman think twice before wearing white pants after Labor Day again.

Robert Whetsell: As much as Kliff Kingsbury has struggled to bring a good defense to Tech, he’s the polar opposite when it comes to offense. “Texas Tech freshman QB finds his sea legs under Kingsbury” makes me very nervous for our defense if we can’t get consistent pressure like we did against Boise State. Of course I’m nervous for every game, so take that for whatever it’s worth.

Matt Harris: I would hope that, despite struggling, Oklahoma State wouldn’t change much. They gave up some yards through the air, but the defense was in the backfield all night. They forced Rypien to make quick decisions. Rypien is a guy who has been a three year starter at Boise State. Texas Tech will be starting freshman Alan Bowman, playing in his first true road game. If the Pokes can get pressure like they did last week, he should make some mistakes.

Zach McCoy: I think most of struggle was a couple of breakdowns in man situations. This defense is predicating on winning those matchups, so there’s only so much you can do there. I expect the defense to give up big plays, but also create big plays much like last week. Maybe sneak over some safety help and change the coverages more to keep the freshman guessing.

Joel Penfield: This defense is set up to be somewhat “boom or bust” in how they either give up a big play or make a big play. They’ll need to be better in pass coverage, or apply pressure quickly. I imagine the latter will happen more than shutting down the passing game of Texas Tech. That being said, putting Bowman on his back a couple times will help the secondary because that could rattle him as a young quarterback.

Ryan Harris: It wouldn’t surprise me to see Oklahoma State play high safeties and rely on man coverage on the perimeter. This will allow the front seven (looking at you, Calvin Bundage) to cut loose and force a few Freshman mistakes from Alan Bowman.

Colin Price: I expect to see Knowles keep his blitzes to 4 men or less in passing situations. Now they might be creative blitzes with weird switches that proved effected against Boise but I think he’ll shy away from sending 5 or 6 guys to bring the house down. Bowman can get the ball out too quickly and precisely to count on blitzes to slow the passing game on its own. The pass rush is going to need to be effective without need much help from the coverage if they want to stifle Tech’s passing game.

3.) We’re going to set the o/u on Brailford sacks at 2.5. What do you got?

Louis Pineda: Under...barely. Tech has talent on their o-line, yes, but the real reason why he will get 2 sacks is that Cliff Kingsbury will design lots of quick routes to combat the pressure. Tech does scheme well on offense, so I expect them to limit the pressure as best they can.

Grant Boston:It has to be over. Although the Cowboys’ linebackers will need to do their part, Brailford will need to make a statement. Ed Oliver’s Heisman campaign likely ended last week when he was unable to register a single sack on any of Bowman’s 59 pass attempts. I expect Jordan Brailford to perform much better.

Robert Whetsell: I’ll take under. I think they will be tuned into him, plus they will be throwing everything quick. I think this will be a great battle between Kingsbury and Knowles, and the in-game adjustments will be critical.

Matt Harris: I’m actually going to go with the over here. I’ll put Brailford down for three sacks on Saturday.

Zach McCoy:Under, because 3 sacks is a lot! (How in the world did he not win defensive POTW??). Also Tech relies on a quick passing game to alleviate some of the pass rush threat.

Joel Penfield: I’ll take the under, Tech will try and get the ball out of Bowman’s hands quickly to counter the pass rush. I still think he gets in the backfield multiple times, but more quarterback hurries/pressures than sacks.

Ryan Harris:I will take the over but barely. Jordan Brailford and Calvin Bundage should each record a few sacks in this game. I’d like to see Knowles call another aggressive game. If this defense plays like it did last weekend, Texas Tech and Alan Bowman are in for a long day. This is the most impressed I’ve been with the OSU defense since I stepped on campus in 2016, and I think they will continue their success against Texas Tech this weekend.

Colin Price:I’ll push on that line. I think he ends up with 2.5 sacks after sandwiching Bowman with the help of...(spins pass rush wheel)...Cole Walterscheid.

4. Dakota Allen played really well against Houston. What do you see us doing to make sure he’s contained.

Louis Pineda: I don’t care how good you are, good luck tackling the 4 Horsemen! In all seriousness, speed will be the neutralizer. Stoner and McClesky will need to keep him running up the seam so the middle of the D can open up for the RBs.

Grant Boston:Last week against Houston, Dakota Allen appeared to be everywhere at once. Oklahoma State’s offensive line will need to utilize the gap blocking concept on power run plays to Justice Hill and J.D. King to take him out of the game. I’ve heard it’s much more difficult to make tackles from a lying down position.

Robert Whetsell: Response from #2...”Texas Tech freshman QB finds his sea legs under Kingsbury” makes me very nervous for our defense if we can’t get consistent pressure like we did against Boise State.

Matt Harris:Play Jelani Woods at Cowboy Back all night and use him as an extra blocker. Woods is the size of a small mountain, all he needs is the footwork to stay in front of Allen.

Zach McCoy:The line has to win at the point of attack consistently so they can get to the next level. Also he’s basically they’re only defensive threat so just avoid him!

Joel Penfield: He has 19 tackles through three games, but no sacks in the season. He’s a good sideline-to-sideline linebacker who has a nose for the ball, as long as the offensive line keeps him out of the backfield I am not too concerned about him.

Ryan Harris:This is a hard one. Dakota Allen is a very talented football player. He’s the one guy OSU will have to scheme for, and he might be the only guy they can’t stop. The offensive line is going to have to do their best to make sure he doesn’t get to Taylor Cornelius and our running backs are going to need to make him miss in open space.

Colin Price: Dakota Allen has been Tech’s leading tackler but he’s a much bigger part in containing the run and covering the middle of the field in the passing game. He hasn’t been terrorizing the backfield but he’ll be the guy lining up to jam up Justice at the line and spying Cornelius to keep him from running free. To keep him at bay, Yurcich is going to have to have the Cowboy Backs assigned to specifically block him on set run plays.

5. Score predictions?

Louis Pineda: The game will start as a shootout, but the Pokes run away with it in the 4th (thank you Rob Glass).

Pokes: 56

Other Guys: 38

Grant Boston:Oklahoma State 42, Texas Tech 38.

Robert Whetsell: Averaging winning score for OSU since Kingsbury took over...52-37. I’ll go with that. If Knowles’ defense can hold Tech under that, I’m buying stock

Matt Harris: I said on the pod that I have OSU 52-38 in this game. I’m increasingly feeling 55-42 but I’m sticking with what I said on the pod to stay consistent. Give me 10 in a row, Pokes 52-38.

Zach McCoy: 38-55; Pokes cover again.

Joel Penfield: have Oklahoma State winning this game 55-31. That will make a decade of victories against Texas Tech.

Ryan Harris:Oklahoma State: 52 Texas Tech: 42. The drought continues for Tech as their defense still isn’t good enough to beat Oklahoma State. This game will be a shootout. First one to get a defensive stop wins.

Colin Price: I think it’ll be a shootout with the Pokes pulling away down the stretch in the 4th quarter a la 2015. 52-38.

Have answers to these questions of your own? Leave them in the comments below!