November 19, 2011

The Nickel: Missouri

Texas Tech takes on Missouri today at 2:30 p.m.

Here are five things to keep in mind while watching the game from Missouri's Memorial Stadium or at home on ABC:

The confidence issues

Head coach Tommy Tuberville and quarterback Seth Doege admitted Monday that the team has had some confidence issues as of late.

Tuberville and crew tried to make practice more fun this week by changing some things up and the players have apparently responded.

But the best thing the Red Raiders can do is get an early lead, even if it's just an opening touchdown. If Tech can get that, the players should be able to settle down and just play the game.

Containing James Franklin

Today's game might come down to whether Tech can do something it has failed to do all season -- containing Missouri quarterback James Franklin.

Missouri's offense revolves around the athletic sophomore. The zone read, option and short passing game are Franklin's strengths and Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost has retooled the offense from the days of Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert.

If Tech can stop Franklin, even just a few times, it could be the difference in the game.

Early scores

As we've seen the past three weeks, if the Tech offense can't score touchdowns early, the game slips away very quickly.

The Red Raiders need a score within their first two possessions to get into some kind of rhythm.

Tech scored a touchdown on its first possession of the Oklahoma game, but has failed to since.

How does the absence of Gary Pinkel throw off the Tigers?

Gary Pinkel was suspended by the University of Missouri for the Tech game after being arrested for driving while intoxicated Wednesday evening.

That has to have been a major distraction for the Tigers as they've made final preparations for the Red Raiders. Maybe something will be missing on the sideline today.

While defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will be the head coach in name today, Missouri finds itself in a position where its two coordinators are in control of their own games without any oversight. Maybe that will be a good thing, maybe it won't.

It's certainly an embarrassing situation in Columbia.

How does Missouri running back Kendial Lawrence do?

Tiger running back Kendial Lawrence will get his second start of the season today.

Lawrence probably would have been Missouri's starting tailback all season, but he suffered a fractured fibula leg injury in the Tigers' season-opening win against Miami of Ohio.

Since then, the starting job has belonged to Henry Josey. Josey was having a good year until last week when he sustained season-ending ACL and MCL tears against Texas.

Lawrence had 106 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown against Texas, but you can be sure Missouri would have preferred to feature the hot hand against the Red Raiders' run defense.

Lawrence has 96 yards and a touchdown when Tech upset a ranked Missouri team, 24-17 in Lubbock.

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