The last football game of Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s inaugural season this Thursday night in Austin against the Texas Longhorns features some of the best matchups of the year.
Here’s what we’ll be watching:
Strength vs. Strength
Despite playing two true freshmen quarterbacks behind a young offensive line, the Red Raiders still own the nation’s best passing offense (400 yards per game). On the other side of the ball, the Longhorns defend the pass better than almost anyone in the Big 12 (207 yards per game).
The last time Tech went up against a pass defense of this caliber, they posted 388 yards against Oklahoma. Conversely, Texas hasn’t really had to worry about opponents passing because they’re run defense is so atrocious. On top of that, they average less than one interception per game.
Le’Raven Clark vs. Jackson Jeffcoat
To take full advantage in the passing game against Texas, Tech’s offensive line will have to keep their quarterback clean. Coming after Tech’s passer is fourth-year defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who’s started 30 games for the Longhorns and posted seven sacks already this season.
Keeping him off the quarterback is sophomore left tackle Le’Raven Clark, making his 25th start for the Red Raiders. Clark has performed admirably in his first year at left tackle, neutralizing the likes of Devonte Fields and holding his own against conference sack leader Ryan Mueller.
Eric Ward vs. Carrington Byndom
As part of that nation-leading passing attack, Eric Ward has caught fire in Tech’s last four games, hauling in 35 catches for 381 yards and five touchdowns. He has a knack for showing up when Tech needs him most, and he’ll certainly be called on often in Austin.
Tasked with holding Ward down is senior Longhorn cornerback Carrington Byndom. He has no interceptions to his credit this season and few pass deflections, but Byndom is a solid cover corner who’s very familiar with Ward’s game.
Despite the losses, Ward averages 100 yards a game against the Longhorns in his career.