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Scouting the opponent: Texas Tech displays trio of running backs

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Sonny Cumbie and Donovan Smith

Scouting the opponent takes a look into OSU’s opposing matchup and formulates a scouting report.

Oklahoma State plays another team that — in spite of losing its head coach in the middle of the season — is coming off a big-time upset victory the week before with a backup freshman quarterback. Feels like a bit of de deja vu, doesn’t it?

Texas Tech did exactly that in its 41-38 victory over Iowa State this past weekend. Now, OSU will look to stay on track and after a dominant victory last week.

QB1 Donovan Smith

The redshirt freshman gave TTU a true spark on Saturday. He is a dual-threat quarterback who is used well on the zone-reads, designed runs and/or scrambles when he needs to improvise. But Smith also has a legit arm with a quick release.

Whether it was throwing strikes or lofting up the deep ball, Smith displayed some nice passing prowess. Smith had 372 total yards and three touchdowns against a top 15 Iowa State defense.

Erik Ezukanma and this WR room

TTU’s No. 1 receiver had his best game of the season against OSU last year with a 7-183-2 line. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ezukanma excels at all three levels and possesses elite physical tools. He has supplanted himself as one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12, and he is bookended by two talented receivers in Kaylon Geiger and Myles Price.

Three-headed monster in the backfield

The Red Raiders’ run game doesn’t jump off the page without that dynamic No. 1 tailback, but they have an effective trio of RBs with SaRodorick Thompson, Xavier White and Tahj Brooks. As a team, TTU averages 4.8 yards per carry, which ranks 38th in the nation. It’s a good complement to 22nd ranked passing game in the country.

The defense has struggled

Just like last year, this defense has struggled to contain opposing offenses. The Red Raiders own the 110th scoring defense and 83rd total defense. Their metrics aren’t friendly by any measure. TTU has routinely given up large point totals, especially in Big 12 play. This unit will need get some push up front to stop OSU’s rush attack.

TTU’s linebackers are going to be key

While the score doesn’t display it, the Red Raiders did a better job on defense against ISU. And a big reason was the linebacker trio of Colin Schooler, Krishon Merriweather and Riko Jeffers. The D-line did a much better job getting push, and these linebackers shot gaps well and limited All-American Breece Hall for the most part. They’ll need to a similar impact on OSU to try and slow down the rushing attack.

sports.ed@ocolly.com