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Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason report: Texas Tech

By Jake Trotter

At 6-0, the Red Raiders have been the biggest surprise in the Big 12. And they’ve remained undefeated, despite having to rotate a pair of true freshman quarterbacks.

Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb have had their freshman moments. But overall, the two have played well. Helping them along the way has been a collection of pass-catchers that is as good as any in the Big 12, and that includes Baylor, the nation’s leading offense.

Jace Amaro, Eric Ward, Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez all rank in the top eight in the league in receptions. Running backs Kenny Williams, DeAndre Washington and Sadale Foster have been effective safety valves for Mayfield and Webb out of the backfield.

But while the offense has been efficient, an upstart defense is the No. 1 reason why the Red Raiders are undefeated. Behind disrupting nose guard Kerry Hyder, Tech ranks 23rd nationally in total defense, and ninth in third-down defense.

The great start has Lubbock abuzz about the Kliff Kingsbury era. But what Tech does over the next two weeks will determine whether the Red Raiders are truly contenders. So far, Tech has only had to travel to SMU and Kansas. This week, the Red Raiders go to Morgantown, followed by a trip to Norman the following weekend. Tech will need its freshman quarterbacks to play with poise. And its defense needs to continue getting off the field on third downs. If those two things happen, the Red Raiders could be a major factor in a wide-open Big 12 race.

Offensive MVP: There might be no tougher matchup in the league than Amaro. Built like a tight end, Amaro has the quickness and hands of a wide receiver. He can outmuscle safeties. And outmaneuver linebackers. At the moment, he leads the Big 12 with 47 receptions while commanding the full attention of opposing defenses.

Defensive MVP: Hyder is the unquestioned leader and catalyst of this Tech defense. Despite getting double-teamed often as the nose guard, Hyder leads the Big 12 with nine tackles for loss. At 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, Hyder is not big for an interior defensive lineman. But because of his quickness, he’s as disruptive as any in the conference.