Offensive Matchups | Oklahoma St. Cowboys Defense vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Offense

TEXAS TECH | Finally. Improvement. We all saw it. Please ignore that it was Baylor, who statistically has a better defense than Oklahoma St. In fact, the Texas Tech defense and the Oklahoma St. defense are eerily similar. These are NCAA ranks: OSU is 29th (114.40) in rush defense, TTU is 39th (126.00); OSU is 118th (290.80) in passing defense, TTU is 114th (279.60); OSU is 88th (405.20) in total defense, and TTU is 89th (405.60). So basically, what you see with Texas Tech on the field is what you'll see with Oklahoma St.

What Texas Tech fans on Saturday was what was expected from the get-go. Since the humbling loss to UT, the offense is averaging 571.5 yards in total offense, 152 yards rushing a game, and 419.5 yards passing a game. For me, the biggest difference is that in the three first games, the running game was averaging 70 yards a game (including a -14 yard performance against UT). Texas Tech is now averaging over 100 yards a game, something that hasn't happened since 2008 and 2005 (thank you Shannon Woods and Taurean Henderson).

As much grief that the offensive line took for subpar performances in the first three games, something has clicked with them as much as anyone else on this team. This is a unit that is incredibly shallow and perhaps that's the way that OL coach Moore wants it. For the second straight game, the starting five of LT LaAdrian Waddle, LG Lonnie Edwards, C Justin Keown, RG Deveric Gallington and RT Mickey Okafor played pretty much the entire game. TE/RT Chris Olson and OL David Neill are the only two offensive linemen that received any playing time (and Neill's time could have happened during kickoff or punt coverage) on Saturday. I mentioned this last week and I'll mention this again, which is that I think that these linemen are better prepared to go the entire game, but I think it's a mistake not to work in some alternate offensive linemen during the game. I get that perhaps the staff felt that they just couldn't afford any mental lapses or negative plays, but injuries are a given and I'd hate to see a thin offensive line play a player that hasn't seen the field in two or three weeks.

I couldn't have been happier with the play of the receivers. I mentioned this after the game, but the downfield blocking of the receivers made my pants go crazy. It was tremendous and there were multiple receivers that caught multiple passes. QB Taylor Potts mentioned on Monday that distributing the ball to a handful of receivers helps with the receivers' concentration, but we all know that it's also about making the defense guess which receiver is going to catch the ball. There were drops, and I don't know that there ever won't be a game where some passes aren't dropped, but this was pretty much a complete game for the receivers. And in terms of production, here's what you had:

Detron Lewis: 26.2% of receptions; 20.6% of yards
Alexander Torres: 16.7% of receptions; 17.7% of yards
Eric Stephens: 16.7% of receptions; 11.7% of yards
Lyle Leong: 11.9% of receptions; 18.4% of yards
Austin Zouzalik: 9.5% of receptions; 14.7% of yards
Baron Batch: 9.5% of receptions; 5.6% of yards
Jacoby Franks: 7.1% of receptions; 10.0% of yards
Tramain Swindall: 2.4% of receptions; 1.3% of yards

This is the sort of break-down that you want from your receivers. The receivers have no idea who is getting the ball and neither does the defense. And for two weeks in a row, the running backs have been spectacular. Credit goes to the offensive line, credit goes to Taylor Potts for checking down to his running backs and credit the play-calling for getting the running backs involved in the offense.

So at this point, and I think that Oklahoma St. fans could say the same thing, which is, Texas Tech just needs to do what they've done the past two weeks. Inconsistency is a part of a college football team, but the rhythm that I talked about recently is a good thing. Now this offense needs to translate it to a home game and a home crowd.

More after the jump.

OKLAHOMA ST. | I made mention of this above, which is the idea that the Texas Tech defense is the Oklahoma St. defense, but truthfully, from what I've seen of the Cowboys, this is a standard bend-but-don't-break defense. OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young is one of the best in the business. I have tremendous respect for what Young does as a defensive coordinator. He hasn't had a dominant defense at OSU, but by the end of the year last year he called the defense that was 31st in total defense and scoring defense in the NCAA and had the 11th best rushing defense.

So my initial thought is that if Young thinks this team needs to be a bend-but-don't-break defense then I'll trust his judgment. I can imagine, that this sort of defense can be incredibly frustrating, as Texas Tech fans well know, but the fact that Texas Tech and Oklahoma St. have incredibly similar results, perhaps the lesson to be learned is that you can implement a style of defense, but getting results take time and athletes.

The OSU defensive line doesn't have a dominant performer. DE's Jamie Blatnick, Richetti Jones and Ugo Chinasa are your three best pass-rushers, but aren't dominant. Jones, Blatnick and Chinasa each have 2 sacks for the year. Collectively, OSU is 27th in the nation in sacks, so they're getting to the quarterback and for Texas Tech, the offensive line really can't afford to take a play off because the pressure is likely to come from a handful of spots. DT's Chris Donaldson and Shane Jarka are your starters at tackle. Fellow DT and sophomore Nigel Nicholas does have 2 sacks, but neither Donaldson or Jarka seem to be getting to the quarterback much.

If I remember correctly, MLB Orie Lemon was hurt all of last year, and has come back this year and has helped lead this defense to the tune of 45 tackles, 4 TFL and 1 sack. SLB James Thomas and WLB Justin Gent round out the starting linebackers. Thomas is 3rd on the team in tackles and Gent is 6th. But the bulk of the tackles made by OSU defenders are from the defensive backs. The starters are all relatively experienced, but the backups are all freshmen. CB Brodrick Brown is second on the team with 28 tackles, which is a bit strange to have your second leading tackler be a cornerback. SS Markelle Martin and FS Johnny Thomas are your starting safeties, while CB Andrew McGee is leading the team with 3 interceptions, while Brown and Martin each have 1 interception.

So how are the Cowboys doing it? Their defense appears to be a bend-but-don't-break 4-3 defense and there aren't just a ton of huge play-makers on the team. If I had to garner a guess, despite only watching one OSU game (TAMU vs. OSU) is that the defense has been incredibly opportunistic. The two games where the score has been close, Troy and TAMU, the offense was turning the ball over too much. Against Troy, the OSU offense had 5 turnovers (3 fumbles and 2 interceptions) and against TAMU the OSU offense had 3 turnovers (1 fumble and 2 interceptions). The Oklahoma St. defense stepped up big time in both of those games, gaining 4 turnovers for themselves against Troy and 5 turnovers against TAMU. Granted, TAMU QB Jerrod Johnson wasn't making the best throws, but I get the feeling that those turnovers by the defense helped sway the momentum of that game. So, despite the OSU offense giving the ball away and despite the defense giving up yards, the OSU defense is getting turnovers and winning the turnover battle is a huge part of any football team's success.

RB Baron Batch vs. MLB Orie Lemon

With Lemon being OSU's leading tackler, it's going to be imperative that Batch get to that second level, break some tackles and get into the secondary.  Batch did a wonderful job of doing this last week against Baylor and Batch's touchdown run against Baylor was more about Batch simply wanting to get into the endzone.  He just wasn't going to be denied.  I tend to think that Lemon is a better linebacker than what Texas Tech saw against Baylor and Batch can't do this alone.  I'm also hesitant to think that Lemon or any of the other OSU linebackers can keep up with Batch and the below mentioned Stephens, especially if Texas Tech is able to properly utilize the screen game and dump-offs in order to keep the Oklahoma St. defense honest.  The offensive line has to do their part in opening lanes for Batch and the running game's success against Iowa St. and Baylor is dependent on the passing game working as well, but over the past two weeks we've seen the Texas Tech running backs gain over 200 yards in total touches.

ERIC STEPHENS
Position Running Back and
Kick Returner
Year Sophomore
Height/Weight 5-8/192
Stats 47 Rushes | 197 Yards | 3 TD | 4.19 YPA | 39.40 YPG
20 Kickoff Returns | 519 Yards | 25.95 YPR

It's become increasingly apparent that Stephens is a huge part of this team's success.  And Stephens may not be the threat that Batch is running the ball, at Batch has proved to be a better runner with a slightly higher yard per carry average over the last two years (2010 and 2009), but perhaps Stephens best attribute is that in his short time at Texas Tech, he's been better than Batch receiving the ball out of the backfield (2010 and 2009) and I think this can be attributed to Stephens being a few steps quicker than Batch.  Texas Tech must keep Oklahoma St. honest and I thought that Potts did a terrific job of this in the first half against Baylor.

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