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October 19, 2011There's no question Texas Tech will be challenged by No. 3 Oklahoma on both sides of the ball.
But if you have to name a strength of the Sooner squad, it has to be the offense. Oklahoma runs a high-paced 'NASCAR' offense much like Tech's, averages 546 yards per game and 45.3 points per game.
Clearly the Red Raider defense is in for a challenge.
To combat the Sooners up front, the coaching staff gave linebacker Daniel Cobb the nod to start at strong side linebacker and Sam Eguavoen will work the middle alongside him.
Cobb, a redshirt sophomore, has some experience working against the Sooner offense last season which is part of the reason he'll get a significant amount of work Saturday.
"You just got to match their intensity," Cobb said. "You've got to come out and hit them in the mouth, be physical and play fast. If they line up fast, you've got to line up fast. If they line up slow, you've still got to line up fast.
"Just do everything you do fast and at a high level. But that's not just Oklahoma. That's every team. You play fast, violent and physical, you'll win."
Discussion in the Red Raider meeting rooms have centered around getting off to a fast start on both sides of the ball. The defense must be able to hold up its end of the bargain though to get Tech some breathing room.
That means the Tech defense is responsible for containing quarterback and Heisman candidate Landry Jones, good wideouts in Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, running back Dominique Whaley and a stout offensive line.
It all centers around their Heisman candidate, but Cobb said there are ways to beat him.
"He's the leader of that team," Cobb said. "They put a lot on him. He makes checks and stuff, disguises things and is good at moving them around. He fakes and can bluff. So we just have to know what we're doing, know the assignments and do it."
The running game also will be tricky for the Tech defense. Oklahoma averages about 173 yards per game and they have an Eric Stephens-like back in Whaley.
Whaley is on pace for a 1,000-yard rushing season and averages about what Stephens did before his season-ending knee injury.
Defending the run isn't exactly the Red Raiders strongest suit, but the run defense did look better last week against Kansas State than it has in the past. This Saturday provides Tech a chance to take the next step as a defense.
"We're going to do our best to stop it," Cobb said. "Stepping up in the box, just playing ball, being instinctive, being violent, doing our assignments and filling our gaps. If we play up to the level we know we're capable of, we can stop them."
Cobb said the defense is extra motivated to play a complete game after holding Kansas State to less than 100 yards in the first half but still losing the game down the stretch.
But Cobb knows they can play a complete game after seeing glimmers of promise against the Wildcats last week.
"It was frustrating," he sad. "We played so well the first half, but again, it's a team and you have to play in all phases of the ball. It's no excuse to play so well in the first half then give up touchdowns, not stop the run and not stop the pass.
"You've got to come out with the same mentality and do it again."