The Texas Tech football team is set to play its third straight ranked opponent as the Red Raiders will take on No. 22 Baylor in Waco on Saturday.
Heading into the game, the Red Raiders posted a 3-2 overall record, losing both of their games away from home this season, according to Tech Athletics’ game notes. Baylor, on the other hand, Baylor has not lost a single game this season, posting a 5-0 record this season.
I think that what Coach (Matt) Wells has done a great job of is showing us that Coach Wells can’t win football games. We win. The players win football games,” senior offensive lineman Travis Bruffy said. “We take the coaching plan and he empowers us, puts all the responsibility on us and says we are the most prepared football team on the field. Attack it. I believe that.”
Tech has averaged 31.6 points per game as the Red Raiders have found more success in their passing game, according to the game notes. The Red Raiders have thrown for 314 yards per game while averaging 171.2 rushing yards per game.
After the Red Raiders’ sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman was sidelined due to a shoulder injury, junior Jett Duffey was named Tech’s starting quarterback. In Tech’s upset against No. 21 Oklahoma State, Duffey started in his first game this season and threw for 424 yards and four touchdowns. The junior’s performance led to him being named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, Maxwell Award Player of the Week and Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week.
As the Bears prepare to take on Tech, Baylor has averaged 38.8 points per game with a balanced offense, according to the game notes. The Bears have found slightly more success in their passing game as the average 261.2 passing yards per game while recording 204.4 rushing yards per game this season.
Baylor’s offense is led by junior quarterback Charlie Brewer. Brewer has thrown for 1,202 yards in five games, ranking fifth in the Big 12 with 240.4 passing yards per game, according to the Big 12. The junior quarterback also ranks fourth in the conference in total passing touchdowns as he has thrown 11 completions in the end zone.
“Baylor week, Baylor’s led on offense by Charlie Brewer, a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. Really good with his feet,” Wells said. “He is very accurate. Stellar high school career out of Lake Travis.”
With Tech set to play the undefeated Bears, Wells said Baylor’s team is full of big players.
“It’s interesting to see how they’re being built from the way coach (Matt) Rhule’s building that, maybe even a little Big Ten-ish,” Wells said. When I say that, Matt’s past from Big Ten when he played, when you see a 6'6", 300-pound tight end. Both tackles are 6'6", 6'7" The center’s 6'6". I mean, they’re large humans. I mean really really big and they got girth. They’ve beefed up the o-line and d-line since they’ve been there. I truly respect that.”
On the defensive end, Tech has allowed 26.2 points per game as they have allowed 414.4 total yards per game this season, according to the game notes.
Senior linebacker Jordyn Brooks leads Tech’s defense in almost every category on the stat sheet. Brooks leads Tech with 60 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and six quarterback hits, according to Tech Athletics. The senior linebacker has also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble this season. As Brooks leads Tech with 60 tackles in five games, the linebacker also leads the Big 12 with 12 tackles per game and 10.5 tackles for loss. Senior defensive back Douglas Coleman III lead the team, conference and nation with five interceptions this year.
Brooks is coming off of one of the best games of his career as he recorded a career-high 19 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks against Oklahoma State, according to Tech Athletics. After his performance, Brooks was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, Bronko Nagurski Trophy Award Player of the Week, Reese’s Senior Bowl Defensive Player of the Week and Dave Campbell’s Coverboy of the Week. Brooks also earned a spot on the Bednarik Award Watch List following the game.
Baylor’s defense leads the conference and ranks 15th in the nation as the Bears have only allowed 15.4 points per game this season, according to the game notes. While scoring against the Bears’ defense has proven to be difficult, Baylor has only allowed 306.2 yards per game this season, ranking second in the Big 12. In defensive statistics, Baylor also leads the Big 12 in sacks with 18 this season.
“(Baylor) also lead the conference in sacks. I take that to heart,” Bruffy said. “We’ll take that to have the A-game to keep Jett (Duffey) up, keep our running backs moving forward, not going backward. I see a dynamic defense, a defense that’s well-coached. It’s the polar opposite from the brand of Baylor football we’ve seen in years past, especially referring back to, like, 2014 and prior or even 2016 and prior.”
Linebacker Clay Johnston leads Baylor’s defense as he leads the team with 48 total tackles this season, according to Baylor Athletics. Johnston has also recorded 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season, but defensive tackle James Lynch leads the Bears with 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks in five games this year. In the Big 12, Lynch ranks second in both tackles for loss and sacks.
“(Baylor’s) front seven will be something we need to attack head-on,” Bruffy said. “It’s going to be the offensive line’s responsibility as well as the tight ends and block backs to make sure everything is going forward, make sure we’re the ones attacking the line of scrimmage and not just catching everything as it comes.”
As the Red Raiders prepare to play Baylor, the game means more to some players on the team as former head coach Kliff Kingsbury was fired hours after Tech’s 35-24 loss last season. With the loss, the Red Raiders finished the 2018 season with a 5-7 season, going 3-6 in conference play, according to Tech Athletics. Bruffy said the loss was a rough one for him.
“We knew what it meant and we knew that that was – we knew what that game held and we knew that responsibility that was on us, and when you walk off the field, it’s different than a loss. It’s different than not just going to a bowl game,” Bruffy said. “You know the implications are deeper than you. It’s people’s families, and we kind of understood what that meant. Very personal, a very had feeling. But change has been made because of games like that. As much as we wanted it to go different, we have changed and we embrace it with optimism. I can promise you we’re not going to be playing with that feeling ever again.”
Tech and Baylor are set for a 3 p.m. kickoff in Waco at McLane Stadium on Saturday. For fans who cannot attend, the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.