I am on record as saying the offensive staff for the Raiders will probably equal the yardage figures a certain former Head coach’s team put up. They will also IMO score more in the red zone. The 2009 squad was pretty good in the red zone and I didn’t realize until I started this post that all Matt William misses were from outside the red zone. In fact he only attempted 14 and made 11.
This season review is in two parts 1. What do we return for offense and defense 2. What are the new coaches likely to build upon.
First let’s admit that there is a lot of pressure to not allow a drop off in performance. That is what all that blather from Tubs is about when he talks about the Raiders offensive identity. 8 wins is the minimum standard to keep the unruly and disaffected rank and file alums / fans happy. 10 wins and share of the Big 12 South is one of those wild fantasy scenarios and God forbid they run the table – by that I mean beat OU and UT in the same season. This would include - Don’t have the bad loss to the likes of Iowa state or aTm.
From a way of looking at the problem I think it can be summarized like this. Today’s atmospherics. The Tech administration is suspect. We the fans or the citizens of Texas are going to foot the bill for Leachs settlement. It’s pretty apparent there is not a player abuse smoking gun. First Mike is too smart to do that – hell he emplaced the sand pit for punishment and second the assistant coaches would have all been fired for not being whistle blowers. We have a saying- "the shit explosion gets on everyone". So since some of the assistants were allowed to keep their jobs I think it’s pretty obvious the TTU administrations position is pretty weak. For the moment put that aside and consider the team and its probable glide path to getting that mythical first Big 12 championship. Tubs hired folks with decent resumes, they are hungry for the big stage- for the most part and clearly a hire like Tubs gives a level of mainstream coaching credibility. Simply put it’s a resume builder my friends. That is if they win more than 8 or 9 games in 2010. The team is what it is. It’s been recruited by Ruff, Riley and Leach so it’s going to look a lot like what we are used to seeing. Beergut is full of crap. There won’t be hardly any change in the product on the field. Two factors go into that statement. Communication and practice or muscle memory. It’s unlikely any coach is going to radically alter the terminology. They are coaches not rocket scientist. They will use plays, reads and language familiar to their audience. Remember the Tuberville "offensive product" identity statement. With 2 x senior QB’s on the field and a Junior / redshirt sophomore heavy O line, 4 x proven running backs. A Whole platoon of sticky handed receivers. The offensive production is not going to drop off. Part of that is because the guys are good at it and part of that is these coaches need to have success right away. Recall that disaffected fan base. Simply put they are going to keep doing what they do well. It’s a 62.5 % pass attack, dink and dunk screen assault with very episodic doses of the sweep, dives and shovel passes. In fact it’s going to be a very run heavy attack from the 25 yard line in. Those other 37. 5 % run plays – Tech ran almost 1000 offensive snaps last year - will do two things. Vastly even out the yardage figures I’d bet the team has only 1200 – 1500 more yards passing than rushing at the end of the season. Second it’s a fair bet that the Leach definition of balance i.e. every possible receiver gets the ball is dumped. BTW Tech had 5000 yards passing and a bowl game inflated 1092 yards on the ground. That means we were almost dead last in rushing yards in the conference . We only beat Colorado out because we were rushing the ball in the Alamo bowl. Texas had the next closest passing yards but we beat them by 1200 yards in the air. But they had over 2000 yards on the ground. The next thing which happens is the number of plays will drop by 10 -15 per game. Mostly because it’s more time consuming to rush the ball and probably because there will be fewer first downs racked up. The hand off is much more certain than the passes but it’s just unlikely we have many rushes for over 5 - 6 yards – routinely.. We saw the dropped pass factor into several games in 09. 3 and outs increased in direct correlation to incomplete passes. Of course the shocking statistic of losing every game where we had 3 series in row without a rush attempt. So what you can expect is a pretty significant uptick in red zone efficiency. It’s an obvious coaching challenge which Tubervilles new Off Coordinator can focus in on. Over a 4 year period Tech kept red zone misses down to an average of 8 - but in 2009 it jumped to 10 with less total chances - the senior QB Graham Harrell in 08 generated 75 chances in the red zone and won 11 games. My point is this would be the Coach Neal goal i.e. raise the number of scoring opportunities. My only concern is the uptick in FG attempts – it speaks to scoring fewer points. Most would agree that’s the difference in the SEC style of play versus the BIG 12. They are a Risk aversive conference. In that getting something every trip to the red zone isn’t compared to risk reward. Leach coached team was designed to score a TD. This leads to another probable outcome. Punts and field position i.e. playing not to lose. I don’t expect Tuberville to have anywhere near as many 4th down attempts. It’s not in his nature. When the head coach isn’t pushing to attack the defense the players won’t be expecting it. I could be wrong. He’s the guy with the 10 lb defensive brain. I am sure his thoughts are the Tech defense will return the ball to the offense. Expect a large uptick in punts.
3rd place beats 6th CFB Stats Big 12 conference
If Tubs/Willis increases defensive efficiency, that is the Raiders indeed do become the 3rd best overall defense as opposed to the 2009 - 6th best Big 12 defense. Then something new will emerge. Domination. OU was third in total conference defense that’s a difference of 440 yards rushing and 660 passing yards allowed. More on that in a bit. But suffice it to say keeping an opponent’s offense out of scoring opportunities wins games. The 2009 Raider defense allowed 6 x critical drives to shape their four losses in Leachs final year. Folks those 6 x drives encompassed a shade over 460 total yards. Compared to a 4.1 averge per play for OU’s defense and 4.8 yards allowed for the Raiders. In the total yards allowed category the Raiders allowed 351 per game. The Sooners allowed 272 per game. BTW UT – first in total D - allowed only 251 per game. The 6 x critical opponents drives are - in a semblance of order - the first drive of the 3rd quarter by UT - the Ruff defense gave up the TD. The last offensive drive of the 4th quarter by UH - result TD. Raiders get the ball back with 50 some odd seconds left. The 3rd drive in the first quarter and 2nd drive of the 3rd quarter versus AtM. Result 14 points. To be fair the Tech offense turned the ball over on downs and fumbled it away to ATM in the 2nd half. More importantly our QB then melted down in the heat of a fired up Aggie defense. Versus OSU the 1st drive of the 3rd quarter, eating over 8 minutes and the last OSU offensive drive of the 4th quarter – they got the ball @ 6.59 to go .. J. Wall knocked the ball loose from Z. Robinson - Brandon Sharpe recovered it at the 1.38 mark. Result 10 offensive points and a loss. To be fair the offense also gave away 7 points on a Sheffield interception. A virtual repeat of the UH game in that T. Potts was ineffective in a 1 minute 38 second sprint to tie it up. My premise for domination here is - there is a good Raider defense on the field it’s got senior leadership and fresh blood at the helm. Can a fresh look 3 - 4 defense get off the field with more consistency? Willis is going to play a SR middle linebacker, a senior NG, 2 x senior DBs and a host of experienced redshirt sophomore and junior backups at D line and Linebacker positions. BTW the production for the Charlie Sadlers coached Defensive ends equaled 53 x sacks by this position alone in 2 years, this feat accomplished with 2 new sets of starters. This is what allowed him to keep his job and the Raiders to win at least 3 games. IMO. The Nebraska game saw the Raider DEs generate 4 x sacks and a backward pass returned for a TD. The Baylor game with the potential go ahead score inside the red zone Brandon Sharpe tackles the QB for no gain on 3rd down forcing Baylor into a desperation 4th and goal. At the MSU bowl game the def ends generated 7 x plus QB hurries resulting in 2 x interceptions and numerous incompletions. Now the vagaries of penalties, turnovers and field position drive the defense. But the point here is the Raiders have been in the top 3 of the Big 12 total defenses once - 2007.
I am very interested in seeing if the Tubs & Willis defensive brain trust can get the Raiders defense into an elite standing heading into November. Your thoughts?