Texas Tech Football vs. Montana State University

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Erik Ezukanma celebrates with redshirt freshman running back Sarodorick Thompson after scoring a touchdown during the game against Montana State at 3 p.m. Aug. 31, 2019, at The Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders outlasted the Bobcats, 45-10.

The Texas Tech football team is set to play its second game of the season as the Red Raiders will take on University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Jones AT&T Stadium.

After the first week of football, both the Red Raiders and Miners started their season’s off with an opening-game win, according to the Tech Athletics game notes. Tech is coming off of a 45-10 win against Montana State, and UTEP barely won its season opener, defeating Houston Baptist 36-34.

While the Red Raiders are one game into the season under new head coach Matt Wells, the Miners are guided under a veteran coaching staff, Wells said.

“UTEP has a coaching staff that’s very veteran, some that I am very familiar with,” Wells said. “Dana Dimel (head coach) is a veteran coach that is a very good football coach, has hired very good guys around him. All three coordinators I know.”

Along with Dimel, Wells said Joe Rob is a veteran special teams coach as he used to coach at Tech. In addition to the veteran head coach and special teams coach, Wells also said he knew offensive coach Mike Canales as he used to be a quarterback at Utah State. He also had connections to defensive coordinator Mike Cox, who was at Utah State when Wells played his junior and senior seasons, as well as secondary/safeties coach Keith Burns, who he once worked for.

As the UTEP football team is led by a veteran coaching staff, Wells said Tech will practice and prepare as they would against any other opponent. He also said the Red Raiders will have to play better than they did against Montana State to defeat the Miners.

“I think you respect your opponent by your preparation. I’m trying to teach our guys how to do that,” Wells said. “Our staff is trying to teach our guys how to do that. The investment you put into preparation, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is on Saturday, whether it’s a league game or non-league game, whether it’s at home or on the road, you don’t leave. You don’t leave victory to chance on Saturday. You prepare the same way, you invest the same way. That’s how you respect your opponent.”

Tech’s quarterback, sophomore Alan Bowman, leads the FBS in passing yards as he threw for 436 yards against Montana State, according to the game notes. Along with Bowman leading the Red Raiders in the passing game, Tech rushed for 255 yards in its season opener.

As Tech’s offense picked a part Montana State’s defense, Wells said UTEP’s defense is built like the Red Raiders’ as the Miners have a big, physical defensive line with safeties and linebackers who are good up the middle.

“What I’ve really been keying in on, (does UTEP’s defense) show blitz? And if they do, are they really coming or are they bluffing?” offensive lineman Casey Verhulst said. “Mostly three down, sometimes four down. Really, we’re just preparing for them all. They’re a big blitz team so we got to watch out for the linebackers rolling over, them sliding down off the edge, things like that.”

With Tech ranking third in the FBS in passing offense, according to the NCAA, Bowman and the Red Raiders will be challenged as UTEP’s defense plays with five defensive backs.

“(UTEP) plays five DB’s in the game, so it’s going to be exciting and fun to go against each other because I don’t know where they’re going and where they’re coming from. They’ll roll into a lot of different coverages,” Bowman said. “A lot of different coverages, but yeah, we go so fast so we’ll see if they can get lined up.”

As Bowman and the Red Raiders prepare to face UTEP’s defense, Tech’s defense has practiced for the Miners’ offense, recording 240 rushing and 268 passing yards in their first game of the season, according to the game notes. While the Miners recorded 508 total yards in their first game of the season, the Red Raiders only allowed 289 at the Jones AT&T Stadium.

“(Treyvon Hughes) is a good back,” Wells said while breaking down UTEP’s offense. “Could have either one of two quarterbacks which are dual-threat guys. Very big upfront on the offensive line.”

Of UTEP’s 240 rushing yards against Houston Baptist, Hughes led the Mines with 23 carries for 144 yards, including two touchdowns, according to UTEP Athletics.

Tech’s defense shut down Montana State last week as senior linebacker Jordyn Brooks led the defense with 11 total tackles, according to the game notes. Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson’s defensive plan worked against Montana State as the Red Raiders forced eight three-and-outs with four of them coming from the Wildcats’ first four drives.

As the Red Raiders head into their second game of the season, Bowman leads Tech with 436 passing yards and a 75.47 percent completion percentage, according to Tech Athletics. Senior running back Armand Shyne leads the Red Raiders with 125 rushing yards as Lubbock local and sophomore wide receiver Xavier White leads the team with 107 receiving yards.

On the defensive end, Brooks leads Tech’s defense with 11 total tackles as senior defensive back. Douglas Coleman III leads the Red Raiders with six solo tackles, according to Tech Athletics. Junior linebacker Evan Rambo was the only Red Raider to record a sack as he and senior defensive lineman Broderick Washington Jr. both led the team with 1.5 tackles for loss.

The Red Raiders will host UTEP as Tech celebrates the agriculture industries, according to a Tech Athletics news release. Tech will highlight cotton, beef, dairy and other prominent crops of West Texas as the school’s nationally-recognized judging teams will be honored at Jones AT&T Stadium.

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