Some years, like when the Red Raiders rolled out a ferocious pass-rush to finish 11-1 in the regular season in 2008, the label hasn't fit. But more often than not, it's been somewhat accurate. In 2011, Texas Tech was business as usual, pairing a potent offense with a negligible defense, one that the Longhorns ran all over.
But 2012 appears to be an outlier season. The Red Raiders sit at 6-2 and 3-2 in the Big 12 in large part because of their defense, which has held opponents to 14 or fewer points in five games this season.
"They’re more physical, from what I have seen on film," said Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin. "They’re better in technique. Just doing a lot of good things on defense. Making a lot of big stops against some really good teams. That explains why they have a better record this year. We’re both going in the game with the same record. It’s going to be a hard-fought game throughout the whole four quarters. That’s what you expect going there into Lubbock at home. They’ll have a lot of energy and be ready to play."
Last year's game wasn't much of a contest, with the Longhorns running all over the Red Raiders and out-toughing them. But the Texas players don't expect that to happen this year.
"Tech definitely has a really good defense this year, and that is something that we have watched on film already," said Texas receiver Jaxon Shipley. "We know that they have some really good guys. They have a really good safety [Cody Davis] that is back there and leads the team in tackles. It is something that we have to look at more on film and just figure out what we need to do from there."
Shipley is no stranger to the Texas-Texas Tech rivalry after watching his older brother Jordan go through it.
"I have grown up around a lot of Texas Tech-Texas games," Shipley said. "It is one of the games where everyone knows each other from Texas Tech or from Texas, so it is a big rivalry. I have grown up watching this game, and I kind of know what to think going into it because I have been around it. And I’ve talked to my brother about it. Last year I didn’t get the chance to play in it because I was hurt, but this year I will be lucky enough to play in my first Texas Tech-Texas rivalry. It is obviously going to be a big game, and I am excited about it."
One thing that the Texas receivers have noticed is Tech's reliance on man-to-man coverage.
"I’m actually really excited that they play a lot of man," Goodwin said. "Get a guy out there on my island, just me and him. We’ll see. The best man will win on that route. Like I said, I’m excited and I’m ready to play."
Shipley said it would be important to get off to a fast start offensively.
"I think we definitely need to come out and score our first drive and score our first few possessions, because I think that is big," Shipley said. "If you get some points on the board early and you get some confidence, then you get the momentum. We have had some games where we haven’t scored as early as we needed to. Like I said, we just need to get things started this week early so that we have some momentum."