Red Raiders Look To Rebound From Conference Loss

Friday, September 28th 2007, 2:19 pm
By: News On 6

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Texas Tech heads into its game against Northwestern State on Saturday night trying to put a difficult week behind it.

The Red Raiders lost their Big 12 opener at Oklahoma State 49-45 after their leading receiver failed to make a catch in the end zone, then they got chewed out by their coach for a lack of effort. His tirade was upstaged by Cowboys coach Mike Gundy's rant at a columnist that garnered thousands of hits on the Internet.

Then Tech (3-1) got a new defensive coordinator.

The week's upheaval shouldn't affect the team's play, though, Tech coach Mike Leach said.

``I think that it needs to refocus everybody,'' he said. ``All the elements that we need to win our games and to be a really good team, they're all there. We just need to all do it together.''

Northwestern State (2-1) of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) also is coming off a loss, 42-14 to Northwestern two weeks ago.

Demons coach Scott Stoker knows his team faces ``a huge challenge'' playing a team that's got the nation's leading quarterback (Graham Harrell) and receiver (Michael Crabtree).

``The numbers they put up are ridiculous,'' Stoker said. ``I don't think anyone's even remotely slowed them down. You just got to hope it's one of them days where (Harrell's) not as hot as he is normally because if they're as hot as they normally are that scoreboard is just going to keep ticking.''

Tech ranks fifth nationally (49.5 points per game) in scoring offense, with Harrell as the engineer. He has completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,963 yards and 19 touchdowns in four games. Against the Cowboys he had the fourth-best passing game in major college history with 646 yards.

Crabtree, a redshirt freshman, has 52 catches, 11 for touchdowns. He had 14 catches for 237 yards against Oklahoma State when he dropped a potential game-winner in the end zone in the final seconds.

Leach said that wasn't the difference in the game, though.

``We wouldn't even be in that position without Michael Crabtree,'' he said. ``He made a ton of plays.''

Tech's offense was on track in the first half but scored only 10 points in the second half.

The defense's effort was woefully inadequate, Leach said, and that led to his replacing defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich with Ruffin McNeill the day after the game.

Stoker said his team will have to expect a different Tech defense as a result.

``It just makes it more difficult for us to get prepared,'' Stoker said. ``But they're going to do some subtle changes in there that we've got to be ready for on the offensive side.''

For a second time in three games Tech's defense gave up touchdowns on four consecutive drives. The Raiders also allowed four touchdowns of more than 30 yards and 610 total yards.

Oklahoma State scored three touchdowns on possessions that lasted less than a minute, a trait Tech typically owns.

Chris Parker, a defensive back, said the players simply need the ``right mentality.''

``We need to go out as the defensive players and fix our attitudes and go out there with the mentality that we're going to get after somebody on every play,'' he said.