The Houston Cougars will enter Saturday’s game against Texas Tech with a focus on the Red Raiders’ running back duo. (Courtesy Sean Thomas)
When the Houston Cougars take the field on Saturday against Texas Tech, the focus will be on containing the Red Raiders’ two electric running backs.
Senior running back SaRodorick Thompson and junior Tahj Brooks enter the game as an explosive duo that will keep Houston’s defenders busy all afternoon long.
“They are going to be looking to be aggressive,” Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk said. “Cannot let them get going, they will find creative ways to get to those guys.”
The duo combined for 98 rushing yards and four total touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Murray State. Brooks had three rushing touchdowns and Thompson caught one for a score in the Red Raiders’ rout of the Racers in week one.
No. 25 Houston got a first-hand look of what Brooks can do in the 2021 season opener at NRG Stadium when he gashed the UH defense with 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Thompson did not play in the game.
For the entire 2021 season, Brooks and Thompson combined for 1,068 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
“Those two guys are two of the best running backs that we will face,” Belk said. “Statistically, they are the best duo of production coming back in the country, so the challenge will be great.”
In addition to the challenges posed by the two running backs, UH senior linebacker Donavan Mutin said Texas Tech, with offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, prides itself on tempo and getting as many plays and points as possible. The Cougars will have to be ready for an uptempo attack.
With Texas Tech’s starting quarterback Tyler Shough knocked out of Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury, the Red Raiders could look at getting their running backs involved early and often. Belk said Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith, who will fill in Shough’s roles, can make all the throws and is also a dual threat to do damage with his legs.
With the UH defense looking to focus on the details and play more soundly, Texas Tech’s stellar running backs will test the unit early and often, and their success, or lack thereof, could determine how well Houston fares in the matchup.
“We are going to have to prepare at a high level if we think we are going to go up there and get a win, which I think that we can,” Mutin said.