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UTEP at Texas Tech: Opponent Q&A with Viva The Matadors

Ryan Smith from SB Nation's Viva The Matadors helps us preview the Red Raiders in this week's Q&A session.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Watching Tech and SHSU, I couldn't help but think this could be one of Tech's most explosive, and deepest offense's in years, with Mahomes and the plethora of receivers, am I close on that thought?

You're right. Tech has always had a pretty good pass offense, but the emergence of a really good running game, it gives the offense something it's never had before. Two high level quarterbacks, 3 terrific running backs and more wide receivers than I can count. The only thing holding Tech's offense back is themselves at this point. Last year was a year of self inflicted wounds on offense via penalties and turnovers. If Tech can cut those down this year... 600+ yards and 50+ points will be the norm, even against stalwart defenses.

Yes, Tech's defense didn't look very strong in week one, but they do have some pretty good athletes, and guys coming back from suspension and what not, is the defense a work in progress that can maybe find itself as the season goes on?

I certainly hope so and I truly think it will. A lot has been made about the revolving door of defensive coordinators and a lot of Tech fans aren't real happy after week 1, but 5 of those 7 coordinators were all first time coordinators. Mostly being promoted from a position coach job from another school. There is also an overlooked reason with Tech and that has been the recruiting attrition under Tuberville. It doesn't get mentioned nearly enough the shape the program was in when he left, but this may be the first year Tech has the depth on the defensive side to go along with a tried and true defensive coordinator. Look for Robertson to come back, Mike Mitchell growing into a fantastic contributor and true freshman Breiden Fehoko and Jah'Shawn Johnson to become house hold names by the end of the season.

Sean Kugler talked about Tech showing 3-4, and 4-3 looks, is this a game where you see them having four down lineman at all times, or how does Tech try to slow down UTEP's run game?

I sure hope we show a 4-3 look. Not only were we showing 3-4 looks at time, but 2-4-5 looks. We definitely have the bodies on the defensive line, but some of our best players are linebackers who are being played as undersized ends and though good against the pass, not very good against the run. If Tech doesn't put 4 lineman down and play sound gap assignments, UTEP is going to be able to get chunks of yards at will.

UTEP struggled last year in containing Tech's speedsters like Justin Stockton and Jakeem Grant for example, with so many receivers in the rotation this year who stood out to you in week one?

Ian Sadler and Devin Lauderdale. UTEP will see a heavy does of Lauderdale. He emerged late last year as a deep threat opposite of Bradley Marquez. With Marquez graduated, Lauderdale is getting the majority of deep throws. He has the speed to get behind almost any corner and is elusive in space. He's not quite Grant, but if you're looking for a new face to pay attention to, it's Lauderdale. Sadler is a medium threat with good hands and deceptive speed. All of the young guys had a lot of drops, but should get stronger as they go.

If I'm a UTEP fan heading up to Lubbock this weekend, where should I stop to have a beer, or best places to eat?

If you're in the mood for Italian, hit up One Guy's on University just outside the main campus entrance. Great pizza, bigger slices. If you're in it for just a burger, everyone loves Spanky's on the East side of the stadium, but it's not my favorite. Restaurants have been going up left and right in recent years, so there's always a new spot to try as well.


What do you feel Tech has to do avoid UTEP hanging around and keeping it close?

Win time of possession and limit penalties. UTEP was 2nd in the nation in TOP and if you want to know how to beat Tech in the last 15 years, it's keep the ball away from their offense. If UTEP can get 3 yards a run and just pound it... they will eat up yardage, clock and beat up on Tech's defense. Those 3 yarders will get bigger and bigger as the game goes. For reference on how this is done, check Texas A&M vs Tech 2006. A&M didn't win the game, but it took a last minute deep strike for Tech to pull it out. With regards to penalties, when Tech has the ball, they can't self-destruct. They have to sustain drives and not have big plays called back due to holding or false-starts that put them in 1st and long.

Prediction?

UTEP is always a team that scares me. It maybe because they are just underneath the radar that you don't get a real good feel for what they are going to do. Since 2006, it's always been a close matchup. I do think that Tech's defense shows enough improvement in week 2 that Tech gets the victory 52-35. Aaron Jones has a big day over 150 yards rushing, but UTEP just doesn't do quite enough defensively.

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