Red Raiders set to invade Mackay Stadium

RENO " They snap the ball every 27 seconds. They had 37 scoring drives under two minutes last season, and 13 more that were less than a minute. They have scored 30 or more points in 17 of their last 19 games.

Meet the 12th-ranked Texas Tech Raiders (1-0), who invade Mackay Stadium tonight for a big nonconference game against Nevada (1-0). Kick-off is set for 6:05 p.m.

Texas Tech is the first Big 12 school to play at Mackay Stadium. It is the highest-ranked non-conference team to play here.

"They are the best offensive team to come to Nevada in recent memory," Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "They passed for more than 500 yards last week and have the No. 1 offense. It's really a fun offense (to watch). It's as good an offense as there is in the country. It will be a challenge defensively."

Graham Harrell, the 2007 Sammy Baugh Award winner, triggers the offense. He is the nation's leading active passer with 11,218 yards. He throws to a bevy of receivers led by Michael Crabtree, who won the Biletnikoff Award last year as a freshman. Crabtree had nine catches for 73 yards and a score last week against Eastern Washington, while Eric Morris had nine grabs for 164 yards and Detron Lewis added nine catches for 163 yards.

Tech throws it about 75 percent of the time, but can gash you on the ground with Aaron Crawford, Baron Batch and Shannon Woods.

Nigel Burton, Nevada's defensive coordinator, said the plan is to still play the run first. He said he doesn't want to get gashed on the ground.

"They have done some things different than we've seen," Harrell said. "They man up on the corners and play zone with the rest of the guys. They play some cover 2. They mix it up and they will show us a lot of different looks I'm sure. Hopefully we can go out and attack the leverage and execute."

Tech's defense was unimpressive against Eastern Washington last week, allowing 24 points in the first three quarters.

The key for Nevada's offense will be controlling the ball, eating up the clock in order to keep the Red Raiders' potent offense off the field.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who scrambled for a career-best three scores last week and threw for 122 yards, will start again.

Ault said that any change at quarterback would be due to lack of performance or possibly a package that Nevada might want to see back-up Nick Graziano run. There is no guarantee both will play.

Nevada ran for 426 yards last week against Grambling State, but undoubtedly will find the going a bit tougher against the Big 12 foe.

Tech coach Mike Leach is impressed with the Wolf Pack.

"They are a good team and have been for years," Leach said. "They are a regular bowl participant. Coach (Chris) Ault's' record speaks for itself. He (Colin Kaepernick) might be the best quarterback we face all year, and they have a good running back (Luke Lippincott). Their defense is really big, fairly big guys.

"They spread it out, run it quite a bit and they will throw it. Oklahoma State, something along those lines. They spread it out to run it."

Tech's defense, led by cornerback Jamar Wall and Marlon Williams, gave up just 23 yards on the ground last week.

That means Greg Hall, Alonzo Durham, Dominic Green, Mike Gallett and Brad Eskew will have their hands full trying to open up holes.

Notes: The Nevada athletic department is trying to stage a "White-Out" at tonight's game. Fans are asked to wear their favorite white Wolf Pack shirt. As part of the White-Out theme, the first 15,000 fans through the gates will receive white thundersticks, provided by Ferguson... This is the first time since 2005 that Nevada has opened a season with back-to-back home games ... Ault is the fifth winningest active coach with a 192 victories. He trails Bobby Bowden (373), Joe Paterno (373), Jim Tressel (209) and Frank Beamer.

- Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281

NEVADA VS. TEXAS TECH

When: Tonight, 6:05 p.m.

Where: Mackay Stadium (field turf, 29.973)

TV/Radio: None/ESPN Radio 630AM, pre-game show at 5 p.m.

Coaches: Chris Ault (Nevada); Mike Leach (Texas Tech)

The pick: Texas Tech 40, Nevada 24

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