Slowly but surely, the Red Raiders are continuing to get healthier.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said his team also is becoming more conditioned, which will be key as Big 12 Conference play gets under way this weekend when the Red Raiders travel to Lawrence, Kan., to take on Kansas.
“We want our guys to be in good shape,” Tuberville said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve done some extra running this week. We do have a few guys that are still beat up a little bit. Hopefully, most everybody will be back that was injured last week in the game.
“We need everybody we can possibly get.”
Injured players to return
Leon Mackey’s return to the defensive line was announced earlier this week, but the statuses of other banged-up Red Raiders were not made clear until Wednesday.
Among those set to be healthy for Saturday’s game against Kansas are starting right tackle Mikey Okafor and corner Tre’ Porter.
Okafor was taken out of Tech’s win against Nevada after spraining his ankle, while Porter missed the game after suffering an injury during practice in the week leading to the game.
“Yeah, both of them are practicing,” Tuberville said. “They had good practices today. Tre’s been practicing all week. He’s just been non-contact, but he’s full-speed.”
Tech making defensive adjustments
Missed tackles against Nevada — a number at or around 20 — plagued the Red Raiders, Tuberville said.
Injuries took their tolls on the defense, particularly the secondary, but did not take away from the fact the Red Raiders struggled against Nevada’s pistol offense.
Because of Kansas’ arsenal of offensive formations, Tuberville said the defense underwent a few changes to prevent confusion come Saturday.
“We probably had them confused a little bit,” he said. “We probably might have been doing too much. We got lined up wrong quite a bit Saturday and we were unable to take good enough angles on their running game… So, we made some changes, trying to make sure that everybody knows what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. We’ll see a lot of formations this week out of Kansas and they’ll try to get us in a situation like we got in last week.”
Kansas’ running game
Nevada could turn out to be the best running offense Tech encounters all year, as the Wolf Pack arrived in Lubbock with the nation’s seventh-ranked rushing attack.
The Big 12’s top rushing attacks in Missouri, Baylor and Kansas are ranked 12, 15 and 17 in the nation, respectively.
Tuberville said inexperience is a part of the defense’s struggle to stop the run, but an increase in aggression could help slow down opponents easier.
“We’re working on it and we should be much better in the running game because we’re better on the defensive line,” he said. “We’re a little inexperienced at linebacker, but they’ve gotten better. We just got to tackle when we get there and we gotta play with a lot more aggression.”
Kansas’ struggles against No. 21 Georgia Tech
In the process of taking a 66-24 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the Jayhawks allowed a record 604 rushing yards on 50 carries to the Yellow Jackets.
Tuberville, however, said the Red Raiders are ignoring anything Kansas’ defense did against Georgia Tech because of the circumstances it had to prepare for.
“Their last game — you can throw that out because they played the wishbone (offense),” Tuberville said. “(It’s a) totally different game plan that you’ll see. They’re much better than how they played.”
Looking ahead to Oct. 1 against No. 14 Texas A&M?
In the days following a 50-10 win against Texas State on Sept. 3, Tuberville said his team was not playing well enough to be able to look past its opponents.
Entering Week 5, Tuberville still stands by that philosophy.
“We can’t worry about the Aggies,” he said. “We just hope to show up and play good. We’re not good enough to even think past next five minutes.”