HOUSTON (AP) — Texas Tech has the nation’s top offense, and it’s trying to keep it that way as the schedule gets tougher.
The Red Raiders (2-0) have averaged 54 points and 620.5 yards through their first two games, but things will get more challenging in Big 12 play. With Oklahoma State looming in the conference opener Sept. 30, Texas Tech faces a possible trap game when it plays at Houston (2-0) on Saturday.
“They’re just trying to get better every day, they’re not looking past anybody and that’s what having a tough nonconference schedule will do for you,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Make sure you’re focused on the first three because they’re all going to be huge challenges.”
Houston coach Major Applewhite’s familiarity with Texas Tech’s high-octane offenses goes back years — he played against the Red Raiders several times while he was quarterback at Texas.
“They do a great job as a program stressing you with the tempo of the offense,” he said. “That’s what gets a lot of attention. I know that irritates the defensive side of the ball.”
Texas Tech, which is looking to improve to 3-0 for the fifth time in seven years, needs improvement from its defense. The Red Raiders allowed 45 points and 494 yards against Arizona State last Saturday.
“We gave up more points than we would have liked, but when the game was on the line, I saw some guys really step up and do what we needed to do to get better,” Kingsbury said. “That was a big step for us.”
Kingsbury knows his defense will have its hands full against Houston. Cougars receivers Linell Bonner, Keith Corbin, Steven Dunbar and John Leday have combined for 45 catches with 469 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games.
“They are all crafty,” defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson said. “Anyone can make plays. Just about any of them are speed guys and can go out and get the ball.”
Some things to know about the Texas Tech-Houston game.
SHIMONECK A PRECISION PASSER
Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimoneck has completed 78.8 percent of his passes for 927 yards and nine touchdowns in the first two games. Shimoneck threw for 543 yards and six touchdowns last week against Arizona State.
“We have a long way to go, but I like where he’s at, I like his mentality,” Kingsbury said. “He knows he has only one year to show everybody how good he is, and he is trying to take full advantage of it.”
ALLEN GETTING COMFORTABLE
Houston quarterback Kyle Allen leads the nation in passing percentage at 86.2 percent. Allen, a transfer from Texas A&M, has thrown for 534 yards through his first two starts with the Cougars, including 309 yards last week against Rice, on 31-of-33 passing.
He improved quite a bit from Week 1 and expects to feel even more comfortable this week. His work in Houston’s opener was his first game since the 2015 season at Texas A&M.
“We just had to get those first-game mistakes out of the way,” he said. “I think (Saturday) we came together as a unit and gelled a little bit more, just like we will every game. I just think it was a lot cleaner in that respect.”
GOING BACK TO HOUSTON
Kingsbury began his coaching career at Houston as a quality control coach and moved up to offensive coordinator. He has a lot of great memories of his time there.
“I owe that university a lot for giving me an opportunity to start my career there,” Kingsbury said. “Loved my time there, some of the most fun I ever had coaching, working with Case Keenum and that group in 2011.”
OLIVER LEADS DEFENSE
Houston sophomore defensive end Ed Oliver leads the No. 7 scoring defense in the nation that has allowed 9.5 points a game through two games and has the American Athletic Conference’s top passing defense, averaging 166 yards per game. Oliver, a first-team All-American as a freshman last year, ranks third nationally among defensive lineman with 8.5 tackles per game and leads the nation with two forced fumbles this season. Oliver has 25.5 tackles for losses in his career.
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