LUBBOCK (AP) – Kliff Kingsbury is pretty sure his Red Raiders won’t overlook Stephen F. Austin in Texas Tech’s home opener.
Eight Football Championship Subdivision teams beat Bowl Subdivision opponents last week, two of those upsets coming in the Big 12. Cautioning his Texas Tech players shouldn’t be necessary, the first-year coach said of Saturday night’s game against Stephen F. Austin (0-1).
“I better not have to,” Kingsbury said. “It’s our first home game, and we treat every opponent the same. We treat them with respect and play hard and really focus on us and how much better we have to get. So I would assume we’ll be ready to play.”
Lumberjacks coach J.C. Harper knows his players will be challenged by the up-tempo offensive of the Red Raiders (1-0).
“Our players enjoy this,” Harper said. “It’s a tough deal but hopefully we’ll learn from it and go out there to compete to win a football game.”
There will be plenty of balls in the air in Lubbock. Texas Tech walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield was 43 for 60 for 413 yards and four touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ 41-23 win at SMU in the season opener. His SFA counterpart, senior Brady Attaway, was 37 of 63 for 450 yards and four TDS.
Kingsbury knows what to expect from the Lumberjacks.
“They run a spread offense similar to ours,” he said. “Really explosive offense with great skill.”
Harper likes that his offense showed balanced in SFA’s 50-40 loss at Weber State.
“It looks like we throw the football pretty good,” he said. “I’m really pleased that we run it well too. If we can put both of those together in a balanced day, that’s exactly what we’d like to do.”
Here are five things to watch when Stephen F. Austin plays Texas Tech.
HANG ONTO THE BALL, PLEASE: Both teams had turnovers. Mayfield fumbled twice in the third quarter but recovered both, while Attaway threw three interceptions. With all the passing there could be — especially if the West Texas winds are swirling inside the stadium — expect some picks by each defense.
MOVING THE STICKS ON THE GROUND: Texas Tech’s running game got stymied against the Mustangs. The Raiders’ had 48 yards on 27 carries, a 1.8-yard average. Kingsbury says he won’t force the run game. “However we can score the most points is what we’re going to do,” he said. “I would have liked to have been able to run it more and get it to those backs, but if it’s not working, we’re going to bang our heads against the wall.”
SECONDARY STAMINA: Both teams’ defensive backs will be gassed by the high-flying aerial offenses they’ll try to keep up with. Frequent substitutions could lead to both quarterbacks salivating to exploit backups spelling starters. “Tremendous test,” Harper said. “It’ll be very challenging for our young defense.”
COACHING THE OFFICIALS: Early in last week’s game at SMU, Kingsbury had to chat up the officials, who were slowing Texas Tech’s offensive pace because they thought the Red Raiders was subbing players out. Instead, the Red Raiders were shuffling personnel already on the field.
“They were just confused,” Kingsbury said of the officials. “We weren’t subbing, and it appeared to them we were. So they kept holding it, and I had to explain to them, `We’re not subbing personnel. You can’t hold the ball.”‘
NEW AND BIGGER VIDEO BOARD: Texas Tech installed a new video board — the eighth-largest in college football — at the north end of the field during the offseason. The 100-foot-by-38-foot screen is more than three times the size of the old one. It’s not as big as the one in Austin, one of the largest in college football, according the Texas Longhorns website.
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