TEXAS TECH VS. HOUSTON PREVIEW: All eyes on defenses

Red Raiders defensive tackle Broderick Washington, Jr. (96) tries to get through Lamar Cardinals offensive guard Garrett Bowery (76) and center Stephon Cooper (51) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium.Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Red Raiders will attempt to repeat last year's victory over the Cougars.

Texas Tech hosts Houston at 3:15 on Saturday in a game that many around Texas and perhaps the whole country will find intriguing.

Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver is being touted as a Heisman candidate and this will be his last chance to show what he can do versus a Power 5 opponent before the Heisman is handed out in December. Last week, Oliver posted 11 tackles with 1.5 TFLs against Arizona.

On the other side, Texas Tech's defense still has a lot to prove despite a shutout of Lamar last week. The Red Raiders' defense has a chance to flex its muscles by canceling out Oliver's impact on the game.

Here are some more particulars:

PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB Alan Bowman had a fantastic debut as the Red Raiders starter, completing 22 of 25 passes for 282 yards and 2 TDs. For the second straight game, he threw a well-placed ball to WR Ja’Deion High for a touchdown. Kingsbury praised the freshman for keeping Texas Tech out of negative plays. We’ll see if Bowman can repeat that performance against Houston this week.

WR Antoine Wesley turned an out pass into a 66-yard touchdown against Lamar, the first of his Red Raider career. He leads Texas Tech with 10 catches for 152 yards on the season.

LB Jordyn Brooks might be the best athlete among Texas Tech’s rotation of LBs. He posted 5 total tackles, including a TFL against Lamar and may only be getting warmed up this season.

LB/DE Tony Jones further backed up his play-making ability versus Lamar. He now has 4 TFLs with 2 sacks among his 13 tackles this season.

SERIES HISTORY: Houston leads the all-time series with Texas Tech, 18-12-1. The Red Raiders defeated Houston, 27-24, last season in Houston.

KEY MATCHUP: Texas Tech LG Madison Akamnonu vs. Houston DT Ed Oliver. Actually the whole middle of the Red Raider offensive line — Akamnonu, C Paul Stawarz and RG Jack Anderson — will probably get a shot at slowing down Oliver, who some are saying is the best player in college football. A defensive tackle often times has to settle for setting up linebackers and other defensive players because he himself is taking up blocks. So Texas Tech will need a good blocking scheme and overall game plan to deal with Oliver and the Cougars.

ROSTER REPORT:

QB McLane Carter suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter versus Ole Miss and didn’t play against Lamar. However, Texas Tech held out several first-team players as a precaution last week, so it’s hard to tell if Carter could have played or not. He’ll likely be termed a game-time-decision this week too.

S Jah’Shawn Johnson hasn’t played in the first two games as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. Reports out of practice this week are that Johnson is practicing.

RB Da’Leon Ward missed the Lamar game with a groin injury. Kingsbury said he could have played, but was held out as a precaution. Ward will likely play this week against Houston.

RB Tre King missed the Lamar game with a knee injury. Kingsbury said he expects both Ward and King back at practice “quickly.”

LT Travis Bruffy missed the Lamar game with a lower leg injury. Kingsbury said he expects Bruffy back in the lineup sooner rather than later.

CB Octavious Morgan suffered a lower leg injury in the first scrimmage of training camp. It appears that he is out for the season, though Texas Tech hasn’t said that officially. If Morgan is able to medically redshirt, he'll be one of 32 players on the Texas Tech depth chart that are eligible to return in 2019.

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