Red Raiders vs Houston game preview


Texas Tech closes non-conference play Saturday afternoon when Houston travels to Jones AT&T Stadium for a 3:15 p.m. kickoff.

Texas Tech and Houston will meet for the 32nd time in program history Saturday as the Cougars lead the all-time series with a 12-18-1 advantage. The Red Raiders enter this weekend having won seven of the last eight games versus the Cougars.

This will be the third meeting between the Red Raiders and Cougars since the Southwest Conference disbanded following the 1995 season. Texas Tech is 2-1 in those games with wins in 2010 at home (35-20) and in 2017 at Houston (27-24).

Houston is returning to Jones AT&T Stadium for the first time since 2010 when the Cougars had Kliff Kingsbury on their staff as quarterbacks coach. The Red Raiders won that game, 35-20, in front of 53,461 fans late in the season.

The Red Raiders are 14-3 in non-conference games against former Southwest Conference foes since the league disbanded following the 1995 season.

This weekend's matchup against the Cougars will be unique for several members of the Red Raider coaching staff as head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive coordinator David Gibbs, safeties coach Brett Dewhurst, defensive backs coach Clay Jennings and linebackers coach Zac Spavital were all previously members of the Houston football program.

Kingsbury began his coaching career as a quality control assistant with the Cougars from 2008-09 before eventually being named the quarterbacks coach in 2010 and then co-offensive coordinator in 2011 under then head coach Kevin Sumlin. While in Houston, Kingsbury helped develop one of the nation's premier passers in Case Keenum, who led the country in passing yards during both the 2009 and 2011 seasons.

Gibbs' most recent stop before joining the Texas Tech coaching staff was a two-year stint as Houston's defensive coordinator in 2013-14. Gibbs built one of the nation's premier defenses during that span as the Cougars led the nation with 43 turnovers forced in 2013 and then ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense a year later. Gibbs, a veteran NFL assistant as well, served as Houston's interim head coach for the 2014 Armed Forces Bowl.

Spavital worked alongside Gibbs at Houston as part of a seven-year tenure on the Cougar coaching staff. Spavital was the defensive backs coach for all seven seasons, four of which (2011-14) were spent as the program's recruiting coordinator.

Dewhurst, meanwhile, was on staff with both Gibbs and Spavital in a quality control role from 2013-14. He returned to his alma mater with Gibbs in 2015 where he served as a quality control assistant for two years before moving to Southeastern Louisiana for the 2017 campaign. He returned to Texas Tech this past January as safeties coach.

Jennings was a co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for the Cougars a year ago when the Red Raiders traveled to Houston to deliver a 27-24 victory. It was the second stint on the Houston staff for Jennings, who was a safeties coach for the Cougars from 2005-06.

One of the most impressive aspects of Texas Tech's victory over Lamar came in its work on the ground as the Red Raiders totaled seven rushing touchdowns, their most in a game dating back to 1950. Tech previously rushed for a school-record 12 rushing touchdowns during its early years against Wayland (1925) and Trinity (1932).

Texas Tech's impressive day in the running game came despite the absence of both Da'Leon Ward and Tre King, who were both held out for precautionary reasons. In their absence, the trio of Demarcus Felton, Ta'Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson each rushed for two touchdowns. It marked the first time either Henry or Thompson, both true freshmen, had found the end zone in their young careers.

The ability to be more effective on the ground was a preseason goal of Kliff Kingsbury, one that has been noticeable through just two games as the Red Raiders have totaled 420 rushing yards and nine touchdowns already this year.

Texas Tech's nine rushing touchdowns this year match its most through two games dating back to its move to a passing offense in 2000. The Red Raiders' 420 rushing yards, meanwhile, are the most through two games during that span.

Texas Tech enters the Houston game tied with Oklahoma for the national lead in rushing touchdowns. The two schools normally rank among the country's top passing units as both teams are among the top-five most prolific programs in the country in terms of passing yards dating back to 2000.

After boasting one of the youngest offensive lines in the country a year ago, second-year offensive line coach Brandon Jones has reaped the benefits of having all five of his starters back this season as the Red Raiders are currently one of 12 schools nationally and one of only two Big 12 programs (TCU) to not have surrendered a sack.

The Lamar victory snapped a 12-game streak where the Red Raiders used the same starting offensive lineman as normal left tackle Travis Bruffy was held out for precautionary reasons. Redshirt freshman Dawson Deaton earned the start in Bruffy's place, the first of his career.

Jones had previously utilized a starting lineup consisting of Travis Bruffy at left tackle, Madison Akamnonu at left guard, Paul Stawarz at center, Jack Anderson at right guard and Terence Steele at right tackle over the past 12-consecutive games. Stawarz represents the only senior in that group.

Among the offensive line alone, the group has accounted for 93 career starts, led by Steele, who has made 27 starts over the last two-plus years alone. He is followed by Stawarz with 23 starts and then Akamnonu with 22 starts of his own.

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