Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin
When: 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock
Records: Texas Tech (1-0, 0-0), SFA (1-0, 0-0)
Last Meeting: Texas Tech defeated Stephen F. Austin 69-17 on Sep. 3, 2016, in Lubbock
TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+
What’s at stake?
Texas Tech is coming off a win where it showed grit, toughness and determination. After falling into an early 14-point deficit, the Red Raiders fought their way back to a win behind a stellar 31-0 performance in the second half. This week, they’d be lucky to pad an early lead, get the starters some rest and see some talent in the second unit. This game is on the Red Raiders’ schedule to grow chemistry and experiment with different looks. Maximizing those opportunities will be more beneficial than just a win.
For the Lumberjacks, they truly have nothing to lose. An FCS team heading into a Big 12 home opener is always going to be an underdog. In the three games these two teams have played in their histories, Texas Tech has outscored Stephen F. Austin 188-33. But a nothing-to-lose mentality can also mean that the Lumberjacks will be more willing to take shots downfield and play aggressively. Texas Tech will need to be on their toes early to put themselves in cruise control for the second half.
When Texas Tech has the ball
Tyler Shough looked the part in his Texas Tech debut. Shough finished his Week 1 showing against Houston with 231 passing yards, a completion percentage of 70.8% and a touchdown both in the air and on the ground.
Even with the impressive numbers, it feels like Shough could’ve done even more damage if Texas Tech had more offensive possessions and if the offensive line protected him better.
“I think we do need to clean up our pass protection,” senior lineman Dawson Deaton said. “We gave up way too many sacks for what we expect of ourselves as an O-line.”
Seeing how this offensive line adapts will be something to watch against the Lumberjacks. Against a less competitive opponent, the Red Raiders have an opportunity to work through some of the wrinkles they showed in the trenches against Houston.
When SFA has the ball
Trae Self and Xavier Gibson are the two names sure to be scribbled all over the Texas Tech defensive game plan. Self is a veteran quarterback with a strong arm, who also looks to be utilizing his legs a bit more this season. Gibson is a speedy receiver who can break any play open. He’ll also likely get some looks on punt returns.
The Red Raiders can’t afford to pay attention to only two guys on the Lumberjacks’ offense, but if they contain Self and Gibson, they’ll be in prime position.
Although Stephen F. Austin has some intriguing pieces, Texas Tech is simply the all around better team. Their defense looked sharp in the second half of the Houston bout, and this feels like a game where the offense can build some more confidence. Shough looked impressive in the first game, but this game feels like an opportunity to turn him loose and let him sling it. Tahj Brooks is coming off a phenomenal day on the ground and will likely get plenty of touches in this one. The offensive line can fall into a rhythm with assignments. The Red Raiders have an opportunity to build chemistry and confidence. With the talent on this roster, I think they’ll do just that on Saturday.
Score: Texas Tech 59, Stephen F. Austin 10
Find more Texas Tech coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.