October 15, 2008

Can Kines stop Texas Tech again?

On Jan. 2, 2006, No. 20 Texas Tech traveled to Dallas to face No. 8 Alabama in the Cotton Bowl in a showcase between one of the nation's top offenses against one of the country's premiere defenses. Tech was averaging 511 yards per game heading into the Cotton Bowl while the Crimson Tide allowed just 256.09 yards per game.

Both ranked in the nation's top 10 in their respective nuances, and in the end the old adage that defense wins out won in Dallas that day as Alabama pulled out the victory on a late field goal, 13-10. It was the lowest point total for the Red Raiders since they lost to Texas in Austin, 42-7, on Sept. 29, 2001.

Tech senior quarterback Cody Hodges entered the game as the top passing quarterback in the nation in yards per game, but after being limited to just 196 against Alabama he fell behind Hawaii's Colt Brennan in the final rankings with 353 yards in the air per game. Without Hodges' 66 yards on the ground, the Raiders gained just 37 yards on the ground. Overall, Alabama took it to the high-flying Red Raiders and shut them down, not allowing a Red Raider touchdown until Hodges connected with Jarrett Hicks on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 2:56 left in the game.

The architect of that Crimson Tide defense was defensive coordinator Joe Kines, who is now at Texas A&M and preparing to face Texas Tech and head coach Mike Leach once again.

The difference is that Texas Tech is much better and more balanced, adding two solid running backs that can beat teams on the ground or through the air, a slew of receivers led by defending Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree and a three-year starting quarterback in Graham Harrell.

"They have probably the best offensive system in college football right now, obviously one of the most productive and that's the name of the game. I think the biggest difference in watching them now and watching them several years ago is their running game," Kines said Monday about the current Red Raider offense. "It's a study in what football ought to be about no matter what you run. They do their thing, they built a great foundation and they know it inside and out. I think that's what all of us in coaching really strives to do, just keep being what you are and eventually you're going to get good at it. If you change every day all you're doing is patching up holes and trying to fix things and eventually it catches up with you."

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