In this week’s interview edition of The Flagship Podcast, we go in-depth with InsideTheRedRaiders.com editor Jarret Johnson to preview the Longhorns’ Big 12 opener Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in Lubbock on ESPN.
The Red Raiders, under the first-year coach Joey McGuireare 2-1 after wins over Murray State and Houston as well as a 27-14 loss to No. 16 NC State last weekend.
We start by talking about the Red Raiders’ performance against the Wolfpack, which included a strong defense that was overshadowed by the struggles Tech’s offense endured (three turnovers, including a pick of six by the quarterback Donovan Smith) and special teams (a missed punt roll that led to a field goal and a punt).
Tech’s defense is led by a 6-foot-6, 275-pound senior defensive end Tyree Wilson (5.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks in three games), senior inside linebacker Krishon Merriweather and senior security Marquis “Muddy” Waters.
Johnson declared Tech’s new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has its players who play hard and react well to adversity. Tech’s defense is giving up just 82.7 yards per game rushing (second-best in the Big 12) and just 2.3 yards per carry (best in the Big 12) in three games.
Like Texas, the Red Raiders faced quarterback injuries as a starter Tyler Shough injured his shoulder in Tech’s season-opening win over Murray State and was substituted for Smith. And while Smith converted a fourth-and-20 in overtime that allowed Tech to stay against Houston and ultimately win this game in double overtime, Smtih suffered six picks in consecutive games.
Could Tech be looking to change freshman quarterback to redshirt Behren Morton (64.7% completion rate, one TD, two steals)? Johnson said if Smith continues to struggle with interceptions (five in the last two games), a move to Morton could happen.
Johnson says his biggest concern right now is the inconsistency on Tech’s offensive line, which has resulted in poor pass protection as well as a lack of lanes for talented backs. Tahj Brooks (4.8 ypc, four TDs) and Sa Rodorick Thompson (4.7 YPC).
Johnson talks about how McGuire connected with fans; gives a prediction for Saturday’s Big 12 opener; and provides an early scouting report on Tech’s basketball team under Mark Adams.
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