Texas Tech Knows Dangers of FCS as Stephen F Austin Visits

Texas Tech Red Raiders Head Coach Matt Wells calls out to an official during the college football game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Kansas State University Wildcats on Nov. 23, 2019, at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, TX.
Travis Tustin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Texas Tech didn't need to see any of the upsets from the first full week of college football to know the dangers of opening at home against an FCS opponent.

As they prepare to face Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night, the Red Raiders have their own memory of the 2020 opener against Houston Baptist to help keep them from overlooking the Lumberjacks: They had to stop a 2-point conversation attempt late in a 35-33 victory against a foe playing its first game against a Power Five opponent.

"They have our full attention," coach Matt Wells said of Stephen F. Austin. "You really don't have to turn much further than go look at the scores from last week around the country, and then at five or six near upsets, and they were all FCS teams. They'll get our best shot Saturday night."

The Red Raiders (1-0) opened with a 38-21 victory against Houston at the home of the NFL's Houston Texans, outscoring UH 31-0 in the second half. SFA (1-0) beat Tarleton State 20-10 in its opener.

Texas Tech players who weren't around for Wells' first season in 2019 will play in front of the largest crowd in their home stadium after social distancing limited the number of fans in the pandemic-altered season a year ago.

"They've already been talking about it," Wells said. "It'll be fun for those guys, especially when you consider all the transfers and the new players for the last two years, COVID took that away from them."

The Red Raiders fell behind 14-0 last week after giving up a long drive and allowing Houston to recover an onside kick. But the Cougars were held to just 53 yards in the second half.

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"It's not an excuse, but first game of the year in a neutral site in an NFL stadium with a big group of new guys," linebacker Colin Schooler said. "Just kind of getting those nerves calmed down, once we settled in, we did pretty good."

Oregon transfer Tyler Shough won his debut as Texas Tech's quarterback. The junior was 17 of 24 for 231 yards against Houston.

"It's just consistency in being the starting quarterback from week to week," Wells said. "It's daily improvement in fundamentals. It's daily improvement in new schemes and new plays going in. It's consistency in your work ethic and your work habits and just doing it day after day and week after week. I don't see any reason why he won't to that."

SFA coach Colby Carthel grew up in Friona, about 100 miles from Lubbock, and played college football in West Texas at Angelo State. Carthel coached Texas A&M-Commerce to the Division II national championship before taking over the Lumberjacks in 2018. He has a 7-13 record.

"Everybody in that town will be here, supporting him," Wells said.

Sophomore Tahj Brooks had his first career 100-yard game with 134 yards and scored twice as the Red Raiders averaged 5.2 yards per carry against the Cougars.

"He's consistent. He's smart. He's tough. He's reliable," Wells said. "He's become a little bit more explosive."

Texas Tech had four interceptions against Houston, the most since recording five in a victory over SMU in 2008. … The Red Raiders have won 21 consecutive home openers. … Erik Ezukanma had 179 of Texas Tech's 231 yards receiving against Houston. … The Red Raiders have won all three meetings in the series by an average of 48 points per game.

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