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COMMENTARY: CEDRIC GOLDEN

Red Raiders won't hand Horns win

Monday, October 23, 2006

For all the girls who are thinking about e-mailing me for Ryan Bailey's cell phone number, don't bother.

I don't have it.

Charlie Neibergall
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tech's Graham Harrell, who threw for 368 yards against Iowa State, figures to put pressure on Texas' defense.

The former Anderson High kicker was the story of the weekend. He may not be as high profile as former non-scholarship players Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson, but his debut was as impressive as they come, especially for a walk-on.

The more immediate concern for Texas coach Mack Brown is who will be able to walk in to Lubbock's Jones Stadium on Saturday night without the aid of crutches.

The rash of injuries has hurt the Longhorns much more than most of the blackjack players who had their pockets emptied in Council Bluffs casinos the past weekend.

In Austin, it's the Texas defense taking the hit.

Defensive tackle Derek Lokey and linebacker Robert Killebrew were helped off the field with leg injuries, and kicker Greg Johnson limped off with an aggravated groin injury. Cornerback Tarell Brown (toe) played but was gimpy following the game.

Texas will be a heavy favorite over Tech, but with this rivalry, you can never assume what's going to happen in Lubbock unless you're talking about crazy weather.

The Tech offense has sputtered this year, but Iowa State must have been the switch that sophomore quarterback Graham Harrell was looking to pull.

He threw for 368 yards and a Colt-like six touchdowns in a 42-26 win at Iowa State, which surely got the attention of defensive coordinators Duane Akina and Gene Chizik.

While Akina has fought a month-long battle to keep healthy bodies running in the secondary, Chizik may have been pointing to this weekend when he began playing defensive end Aaron Lewis at tackle several games ago.

Lewis has provided a quicker pass rush presence on the interior and has become one of the team's fiercest hitters up front. His emergence up front comes at a nice time because Texas is playing a Tech spread offense that averages 48.6 passes per game.

Lewis came up with seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery in Lincoln. He's also become an emotional spark plug in the huddle.

"He brings a lot of fire,'' said Crowder. "He's like (Brian Robison's) little brother. The fact he's able to get sacks playing against much bigger players lets you know what kind of player he is."

You will see Lewis lined up at tackle with fellow ends Crowder and Robison or Brian Orakpo on the other side on Saturday, and it's possible Chizik will line up all four across the front.

It would be cliché to call the Longhorns the walking wounded. Brown would just take walking for some of his starters.

"What we have to do is figure out how we can get enough guys on defense to line up,'' he said. "We're just beat to death."

cgolden@statesman.com

Three questions facing

Will Ryan Bailey kick this week?

Good question. The walk-on hero is healthy, and that's more than we can say about senior Greg Johnson, who has a groin injury. Mack Brown said he was confident in Bailey from 40 yards in on Saturday, so don't be surprised to see him place-kicking if Johnson can't go.

How tough a challenge will Texas Tech present?

Who knows? The Longhorns are 28-1 in their last 29 road games and haven't lost in an opponent's stadium since the Red Raiders handed them a 42-38 setback in 2002.

But this Tech team is unpredictable. Which one will show? The one that lost 30-6 to then winless Colorado or the team that dominated at Iowa State, 42-26, the past week?

Is Texas still in the running for a national championship?

Yes, but it will help if some of the six teams in front of the Horns in the BCS standings lose. We do know that top-ranked Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan will meet at the end of the season.

— Cedric Golden

When: Jones Stadium, Lubbock

Where: 6 p.m. Saturday

Records: Texas is 7-1 (4-0 Big 12); Texas Tech is 5-3, (2-2).

TV: TBS

Radio: KVET (1300 AM, 98.1 FM); ESPN Deportes (1260 AM, Spanish)

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