The Texas Tech football team will travel to Lawrence, Kansas to take on Kansas at 3 p.m. on Saturday as the Red Raiders hope to improve their overall record to 5-2 against the owner of the Big 12’s lowest win total so far this season in the 1-4 Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas has yet to beat one of their Big 12 opponents this season, held to just seven points by both Baylor on Sept. 18 (45-7) and Iowa State in their most recent loss (59-7). Tech is coming off a Big 12 loss of their own after falling to TCU by a score of 52-31 that moved their conference record to 1-2.
Both teams will look to end their skid in the David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Saturday in a game that will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Tech’s head football coach Matt Wells said there’s nobody he’d let out work him after the loss against TCU.
“You deal with wins, you deal with losses,” Wells said. “The result of a game is not gonna define me over a 25-year career or the nine years as being a head coach.”
Tech’s defense gave up a net total of 394 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns to TCU according to the NCAA Scoring Summary report, and Wells said the Raiders’ scheme does not look good getting run through.
“We’ve gotta tighten it up and we’ve got to be better schematically,” Wells said. “Whether that's simplification and doing exactly what our guys can do against who we’re going against. This week’s a different animal.”
Kansas’ offense ranks the worst in the conference in average points per game (17.2), total touchdowns (11) and yards per game (181.6) this season, according to Big 12 Sports. With 86 points so far, they’re the only Big 12 team yet to reach triple digits.
The one category that Kansas leads the Big 12 in is penalties committed, with a conference-low 22 penalties that have amassed for a total of 194 yards, which is only higher than Iowa State’s 168.
The Jayhawks’ offense is led by fourth-year junior quarterback Jason Bean, a transfer from North Texas who leads Kansas this season in both passing yards with 852 and passing yards with 289.
“We just have to be sound,” Tech’s defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said ahead of the matchup against Kansas. “We have to execute, you can’t play outside the framework of the system … We’ve got quality runners this week, obviously they’re gonna try to run the ball and we’ve gotta do the same thing we’ve done against the opponents where we’ve shut the run down.”
Tech’s offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who spent the last seven seasons with TCU before being hired to Wells’ staff this past offseason, said he enjoyed calling plays against his former head coach in Gary Patterson but wishes he would have seen more success.
“I wish we would’ve won, I wish we would have scored more points and moved the ball up and down the field,” Cumbie said. “We just didn’t score points and that was based on what we didn’t do.”
Kansas’ defense has given up the most average points per game to opposing offenses so far this season (43.8) according to Big 12 Sports. Cumbie will be tasked with continuing the high-scoring trend, but said Kansas’ scheme allows their players to play fast in terms of simplicity.
“Up front they’re doing a nice job with their line games on third down and their linebackers are doing a good job as far as filling in the run, and then their secondary allows their guys to really play fast.”
Tech’s junior quarterback Henry Colombi brought his pass attempt total to 100 in the loss against TCU on Saturday according to Tech athletics, surpassing the season-opening starter and fellow junior Tyler Shough’s 92.
Colombi, who transferred to Tech prior to last season in a move that reunited him with his former head coach at Utah State Matt Wells, has completed 65 of his 100 attempts this season for 942 passing yards, three touchdowns, as well as one rushing touchdown and two interceptions.
On the other hand, Shough was starting his first season with Tech after transferring from Oregon before breaking his collarbone in a loss to Texas. Before his injury in Tech’s first inter-conference game, Shough completed 64 of his 92 attempts for six touchdowns and three interceptions, totaling 872 passing yards but rushing for two additional touchdowns.
“I’ve been really pleased with how Henry’s competed, the poise, the confidence that he’s played with,” Cumbie said of Colombi’s season. “I’ve been pleased with how he’s executed … and the accuracy he’s shown in the pocket as well.”
Tech’s sophomore receiver Myles Price’s first season as a Red Raider resulted in him ranking fourth on the team in all-purpose yards and a 2021 Academic All-Big 12 selection. In the finale of his freshman season against Kansas, Price scored on a 70-yard touchdown run as well as hauling in two receptions for a game high 43 yards.
With Kansas on-deck, Price said he’s hoping to replicate that success and bounce back from the loss against TCU.
“We need to limit the mental errors, stay focused, everyone know the game plan and do their job,” Price said. “Teams can barely stop us when we’re moving down the field; it’s only when we shoot ourselves in the foot that we’re really getting stopped.”
Kansas’ pass defense ranked fifth in the conference with an average 242.8 yards allowed per game according to Big 12 Sports, but they have managed to only force one interception this season which is the lowest in the Big 12.
On the other hand, Kansas has sacrificed a conference high 20 rushing touchdowns while allowing an average of 251 rushing yards per game, also the most in the Big 12. Tech’s running back group will look to take advantage of the Kansas run defense and improve on their 214 yards and four touchdown performance against TCU.
Leading the way will be junior running back SaRodorick Thompson, who rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns against TCU to place him amongst the top ten rushing touchdown leaders in school history, according to Tech athletics.
Thompson’s 29 rushing touchdowns rank eighth overall in school history, with the three from Saturday passing Baron Batch (2006-2010) and Zebbie Lethridge (1994-1997).
Thompson is currently tied with Billy Taylor (1974-1977) and Byron Hanspord (1994-1996). Tech’s leader in rushing touchdown is Tauran Henderson, who scored 50 touchdowns from 2002 to 2005 according to Tech athletics.
SaRodorick Thompson currently ranks 12th in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game (57) according to Big 12 Sports. The player ranked one slot ahead of Thompson at 11th is Kansas’s quarterback Bean, and the player ranked just behind him at 13th in the conference is Kansas’ running back Devin Neal.
With a loss against TCU seemingly in the rear view for the Red Raiders as they prepare for a matchup with the one-win Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, Tech will look to improve to 5-2 overall and even it’s Big 12 record and 2-2 with a win before returning to Lubbock to host Kansas State on Oct. 23 for Tech’s Family Weekend football game.