How to Win a Street Fight Against West Virginia This Saturday
The last two games against West Virginia have involved some pre-game altercations. It was the classic mushroom cloud of bodies, doing more talking than punching.
But during the whistles (i.e. the part that matters), West Virginia did more punching than Texas Tech. In fact, Texas Tech is on a four-game losing streak against the Mountaineers, and is 5-2 against Texas Tech all-time.
I can't quite put my finger on it, but the losses against West Virginia seem to hurt more than others do. Maybe it's just the way we've lost to them.
In 2014, at home, the Red Raiders were up 21-10 at halftime and lost at the end of regulation to a 55-yard field goal. In 2015, the Red Raiders gave up 300 yards rushing and lost by five. In 2016, Patrick Mahomes was a Heisman hopeful, but the team was coming off a tough loss in Manhattan, and West Virginia opened up a can in Lubbock.
And last season, Texas Tech was up 35-17 (that's 18 points) in the 3rd quarter, but lost, 46-35. I'm not entirely sure, but I think that's really bad. It was so bad it sent the entire season into a tailspin.
Coming into West Virginia in 2017, Texas Tech was 4-1. By the time they recovered, the Red Raiders were 4-5 in a must-win game against Baylor.
Now, I know Kliff Kingsbury recently said that he doesn't want to have beef with West Virginia before the game. But he did say he wanted them to, "settle it on the field," which is code for 'beat that behind legally and within the confines of the rules and regulations of the NCAA rulebook.'
Texas Tech cannot win a straight-up finesse game with West Virginia. Texas Tech can, however, win a dogfight.
That in mind, I combed the internet for the best street fight tips so I can best prepare the Red Raiders for victory.
There's nothing worse than a sucker punch; they hurt like hell, and they're hard to recover from. If Texas Tech gets punched in the nose early because they come out flat at 11 a.m., there's no guarantee that they can recover. Texas Tech has to be alert and start fast against this potent West Virginia offense that features a Heisman candidate quarterback and a couple of All-American receivers.
It's important to note, sucker punches work both ways. If Texas Tech can take a big lead in the first quarter, the rest of the game plan gets a little easier to manage. Look at it this way: If Texas Tech had a 30-point lead last season instead of an 18-point lead, they would have won!
More on that later.
Take punches effectively
Against a team as good as West Virginia, it's impossible to not get punched a few times. When you take the inevitable punch (or five), you must absorb it in a way that minimizes the impact and damage.
You can't let one mistake turn into 17.
Don't be afraid to fight dirty
I believe in playing by the rules...most of the time. In a game where the talent is similar, and I believe it is, you have to find an advantage. In the Houston preview, I said the "nastier" team would win. Against Oklahoma State, I talked about Texas Tech already surviving adversity and the Pokes being soft.
Texas Tech needs to exploit both of those against West Virginia. You have to hit harder. Be tougher. You HAVE to win the game in the trenches. One way to display dominance is to have the better rushing attack. The Air Raid system has long been equated to finesse football. The offensive system bleeds over and makes the defense soft as a byproduct of not being tough on offense. If Texas Tech can shed that stigma by running the ball and having a tough defense, this game could get ugly in a good way.
I also think Texas Tech can play aggressively by using trick plays and misdirection. The latter is what new OC Kevin Johns brings to the run game, and Kliff Kingsbury has more tricks up his sleeves than David Blane.
I can't call this game a must-win, but it can give Texas Tech enormous momentum to have a really good season.
Burn the boats. Leave it on the grass. Give it all you got. Whatever cliche you want to use, Texas Tech needs to do everything in their power to pull this one out. Don't leave anything in the bag.
Use a Battle Cry
Battle Cries have been used since the beginning of history, with guttural noises used as intimidation during the earliest annals of history. The Rebel Yell was said to be "the ugliest sound that any mortal ever heard." There are also a host of phrases in American and Texas history, like "Remember the Alamo" or "Don't Tread on Me." Throughout history, phrases can propel a force much further than they should go.
'Raider! Power!' can join the history books this weekend as a legendary battle cry which can propel Texas Tech to victory. The Jones was a dangerous place once upon a time, and I believe it can be again.
Can it be dangerous, and packed, at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning? We'll find out.
Finish the fight
It's the biggest knock of the Kingsbury Era: Texas Tech can't finish games.
It's no problem for the Red Raiders to get a lead, but it's a huge effort to keep it.
It's not just the West Virginia games, either. There are examples against Kansas State, Texas, TCU...I could keep going, but I'd rather not. Texas Tech has also lost that magical feeling of the Leach Era that no game is ever out of hand.
Down 31 in a bowl game? No problem. That magic returned a bit with Patrick Mahomes, but it flamed out like piss on a candle last season. Does True Freshman QB Alan Bowman bring that never-say-die attitude? Does this defense inspire confidence that they can get that last stop in the 4th quarter that seemed impossible to lock down in 2015?
Is 2018 really different? Have things actually changed? If so, finish the fight.
The Red Raiders are successful in making the game a fight and win a shootout, 45-38, over the 12th-ranked team in the nation. The rushing attack will be the difference, as Texas Tech's offensive line dominates and the running back stable gets close to 200 yards.
1340 The Fan is excited to partner with Guns Up Nation this season. Check them out on Facebook here.