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How Four At Bottom Of Big 12 Can Rise To Top

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Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward will play a large role if the Red Raiders have major success in 2013. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward will play a large role if the Red Raiders have major success in 2013. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

The schedule does the Red Raiders great favors. They start 2-0 and have enough of a cushion that they get to keep Kingsbury’s offense off of film. That helps for the third game, which is just five days after the second and keeps TCU’s defense from finding the routes it wants to match in its 4-2-5. Texas Tech unveils a larger Air Raid arsenal to move to 3-0 as quarterback Michael Brewer has people sweating about his arm and legs. That’s followed by a game against Texas State and a very friendly stretch at Kansas, against Iowa State and at West Virginia.

The stakes are high for the game against Oklahoma, but Kingsbury borrows heavily from the Texas A&M playbook that he knows so well and that riddled the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl. The next two are at home against Oklahoma State and Kansas State as college football wonders what in the world is happening.

Tight end Jace Amaro is a slot machine for Brewer and the Big 12’s best red zone target. Life is made much easier for them because of Eric Ward, who turns into the league’s most prolific receiver, and freshmen Dylan Cantrell outside and Devin Lauderdale inside. Their success is accelerated because of the offense, whereas the success of running backs Kenny Williams and versatile SaDale Foster as an inside-outside duo is facilitated by the offense that keeps defenders out of the box.

The defense succeeds with multiplicity, but gets a good pass rush from end Dartwan Bush a breakout performance from outside linebacker Pete Robertson. The Red Raiders are solid up the middle, too, with undersized, but productive nose guard Kerry Hyder, middle linebacker Will Smith and safety Terrance Bullitt, while freshman Jalen Barnes fills a spot next to Bullitt and is the league’s best freshman on defense.