Reason #1: Light At The End Of The Tunnel
I like to stay a little more grounded when it comes to these reasons, but we'll get a little unconventional with the first one. Leach has really had to work this team this year. Even early in the season, there have been a few bumps in the road, including seeing Harrell struggle so mightily against Nevada, giving up too many yards to a FCS team in Eastern Washington, struggling to stop Nebraska's ball control offense and a few other hurdles. The point here is that Leach has kept the team very focused. His players are repeating his mantra, "Do Your Job," which means that after a number of years, they understand what they are supposed to be doing. Not only that, it seems that this team is focused on the task at hand, which bodes well for the remainder of the season. I don't think Leach has to tell the players that the glimmer at the end of the tunnel is what we and they have been waiting a long time to see, but there's quite a bit of walking to get to that light, just stay focused.
Reason #2: We've Got Jamar Wall, They've Got Dez Bryant
Oklahoma State has one of the most productive receivers in the Big 12, with apologies to Mr. Crabtree, but Texas Tech has one of the better man cornerbacks in the conference in Jamar Wall. Now it's easy to submit that Wall is inferior to Bryant, given Bryant's statistics, but as Wall struggled slightly in the beginning of the season, he also began his improvement. Some of this can be attributed to scheme and the talent lever surrounding Wall getting better, but without a doubt Wall has been flat out dominating for the last 4 weeks. I'm not about to say that Wall is superior to Bryant, but what I can say is that Wall can more than compete with Bryant and if given any safety help, whether that be from McBath, Hines or Charbonnet, then he'll be fine. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that Oklahoma State's 2nd leading receiver is Brandon Pettigrew with 21 catches, and he and Bryant account for 60.44% of Oklahoma State's receptions. Although there's talent around Bryant, there's no doubt that Robinson looks to Bryant 3 times more than Pettigrew and 6 times more than any other receiver.
Reason #3: Cannot Rush The Quarterback
I mentioned this yesterday, but if you had asked me where Oklahoma State might be ranked in sacking the quarterback nationally, I'm pretty sure that I would have guessed somewhere in the top half. Wrong. Oklahoma State is 102nd in the nation in sacks, which means that they just aren't bad, they're awful. As a team, Oklahoma State is only averaging 1 sack per game (1.22), while the Cowboy's best pass rusher is defensive Jeremiah Price, and he has 3 sacks, one coming against A&M, Missouri and the final one against Iowa State. Compare that to Texas Tech only allowing 0.56 sacks per game, going up against one of the more talented defenses I've seen in Texas. I'll take my chances with this offensive line, that's probably feeling pretty good after having so much success against Texas, and what appear, at least statistically, to be a far inferior Oklahoma State team.
Reason #4: I Can't Pick The Right Offensive MVP
I've pretty much whiffed on every attempt to pick the offensive player to have a break out game in the weekly prediction thread. That's a good thing, not that I can't seem to pick the right guy, but rather it's near impossible to have a true sense of who it's going to be because it's someone different from week to week. I think one of the problems last year was that at some point, the offense became so reliant on Michael Crabtree that stopping him meant slowing down the offense. Not so much this year. What I think we've learned this year is that Michael Crabtree is an incredible talent that can absolutely make plays, but there are more players on this team that can carry the offense. In just the last two weeks, Ed Britton has shown that he's not going to drop the ball and he can get past a defensive back or two. Just as I mentioned above, that it's essentially the Bryant and Pettigrew Show that make up 60% of OSU's passing offense, at Texas Tech, that's not the case. The following is the percentage of total receptions for each receiver.
- Michael Crabtree: 23%
- Detron Lewis: 16%
- Eric Morris: 15%
- Ed Britton: 9%
- Tramain Swindall: 11%
- Baron Batch: 9%
- Shannon Woods: 5%
- Lyle Leong: 4%
- Adam James: 4%
I think this accomplishes two things: 1) Texas Tech is no longer reliant on just one guy; and 2) Texas Tech is well served to prepare for the impending departure of Mr. Crabtree to bigger and better things.
Reason #5: You Hear That? That's the Defense Pressuring the Quarterback.
I'm pretty sure that this Texas Tech defense is putting pressure on the quarterback in their sleep. I cannot for the life of me recall a time when there was the absolute depth amongst first and second team linemen at Texas Tech. This is just unprecedented to see the quality, and this is all without Rajon Henley. Right now, Texas Tech is sitting at 2.67 sacks a game, which is good for 21st in the nation. Consider that Brandon Williams already has 10 sacks for the year, while McKinner Dixon already has 6 and Daniel Howard, somewhat of a forgotten man, has 3. Last week, McNeill decided to utilize Howard quite a bit in the Joker package, but rather than just let him loose, Howard was in a delayed rush, waiting for the weak spot in the line to open up and help contain McCoy. Considering the fact that Robinson is a dangerous runner, I would expect a heavy dose of this again.
Check back tomorrow for "5 Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Lose: Oklahoma State Edition".