September 24, 2011

The Nickel: Nevada

Texas Tech will take on Nevada today, 6 p.m. at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Whether you're watching the game from the friendly confines of the Jones or on Fox College Sports, here are the five main storylines entering the game:

Can Doege get close to repeating?

Quarterback Seth Doege broke an NCAA record for passing completion percentage against New Mexico and the Nevada defense has struggled against the pass in its first two games this season.

Don't expect Doege to go 40-for-44 for 401 yards and five touchdowns every week, but anticipate another good game from the quarterback especially with the emergence of receivers Darrin Moore and Eric Ward.

The offensive line

The Tech offensive line got off to a slow start in its home opener but looked like it improved against New Mexico.

Having a bad game against Nevada would be a sign of hardships to come. Nevada has struggled up front early this season and on a defense that has one sack.

The Red Raider offensive line appears to have meshed together even in the absence of starting center Justin Keown/db]. Was it a one-game wonder or is the Tech offensive line getting closer to being the line we projected it to be before Keown's injury?

Phillips, Neboh and Vest need to step up

Apparently Tech's best cornerback, [db]Tre' Porter will miss today's game with an injury sustained in Wednesday's practice.

That means someone new is going to have to step up on the starting defense and shutdown the Wolf Pack wideouts.

Sawyer Vest, a former walk-on, looked very impressive in spring practice but has not seen a significant amount of playing time through Tech's first two games. He'll see a lot more playing time in the absence of Porter.

Eugene Neboh is looked good during his time on the field last season but hasn't been very noticeable thus far this year. Jarvis Phillips might be the most viable second corner option opposite Derrick Mays but he has not seen the field as much as fans might have anticipated coming out of the gates.

Regardless of who starts out of the three, the cornerback position will rely on a committee and there's definitely an opportunity for growth today.

Tyler Lantrip or Cody Fajardo?

Nevada enters today's game with a quarterback controversy. It's not easy replacing a guy like Colin Kaepernick.

Senior Tyler Lantrip hasn't been as accurate as the Wolf Pack coaching staff would have hoped. Freshman Cody Fajardo has little experience but is on the brink of taking the starting job from Lantrip.

The senior quarterback should get the start against the Red Raiders but just a few more bad series and his career as a starter could be over after just two games.

If Lantrip can hang on, Nevada will try to run a balanced offense and take some chances down the field. If it's Fajardo's show, Nevada will try to attack the Red Raiders with the option and run.

The debut of Kenny Williams

Freshman running back Kenny Williams is expected to play today after sitting out the first two games while the Tech coaching staff mulled over redshirting him or not.

Williams possesses a skillset similar to No. 1 running back Eric Stephens so it will be interesting to see how Williams is used and how often he gets the ball.

Additionally, with senior running back Aaron Crawford back from an injury and freshman DeAndre Washington in the mix and Ronnie Daniels out for the game, how will the depth chart shake out behind Stephens?

These questions, and more, will be answered by about 10 p.m. today.

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