TEXAS TECH | Again, inconsistent, but things are getting better. I asked the question on Monday, which was if offensive coordinator gets a pass this year, although he's not to far off statistically from where Leach was in 2009, but the defense is not just worse, but significantly worse in 2010 (over a touchdown worse and over 70 yards overall). It does interest me that the DTN faithful are willing to give defensive coordinator James Willis a pass, but I also started trying to think of if OC Brown has improved the offense in any way.
The light bulb went off in my head and it was something that I've written about over the past few weeks, which is QB Taylor Potts touchdown to interception ratio. In some key areas, the 2010 version of Potts isn't better and in some cases worse in comparison to 2009. He's still completing about 65% of his passes and his yards per attempt is actually down under OC Brown, from 7.3 to 6.7. Potts is also averaging about 4 yards less per game, from 312 to 308. But the one thing that Potts is not only better, but significantly better is touchdown to interceptions. In 2009, Potts threw 1.69 touchdowns for every interception. In 2010, Potts is throwing 4.00 touchdowns for every interception. Chalk some of Potts' improvement to his own maturity, but Potts is making better decisions and he's become a better quarterback under OC Brown. It certainly has been easy to criticize OC Brown, but in my opinion Potts is a better quarterback this year and it's not even close. Maybe a big part of it is taking some of the decision-making process from his quarterbacks and the offense isn't as big-play as it has been in the past, but Potts is not turning the ball over either. And if Brown is able to get Potts to throw a better ball and make better decisions, then maybe . . . just maybe . . . I've given you just a bit to be hopeful about in 2011.
One other by-product of the improved play of Potts is that he's not turning the ball over, but he's also not getting sacked as much. In 2009, Texas Tech was averaging 2.39 sacks per game. In 2010 Texas Tech is allowing 1.86 sacks a game. And that 2009 line consisted of 3 seniors (RG Brandon Carter, RT Marlon Winn and C Shawn Byrnes) while the 2010 line had to replace those three starters and has been better not only at protecting the quarterback, but this group is now making significant strides in the running game. And consider this, the current offensive line consists of 3 juniors, LG Lonnie Edwards, C Justin Keown, and RT Mickey Okafor, and 2 sophomores, LT LaAdrian Waddle and RG Deveric Gallington. This entire group returns next year. And the running game that everyone seems to fault for something is averaging 119 yards a game, which is just a shade under the 117 yards a game that the 2008 team averaged. The 2008 team was more efficient (4.83 yards per rush to 3.77 yards per rush), but if you consider the last 4 games, the offensive is averaging 4.63 yards rush.
Although RB's Baron Batch, Eric Stephens and cameo appearances by Harrison Jeffers and Ben McRoy, didn't equal their previous 3 weeks performance of close to or over 200 yards either passing or receiving, it's not any secret that this group is getting better. I go back to the thought that despite OC Brown having essentially the same toys that Leach had in 2009, it's taken some time for the offensive line to get some new concepts, the running backs learning how to look back for cut-back lanes and receivers adjusting to a different play-caller, it's getting better each week.
A bunch of you mentioned this after the Colorado game, which was that there were only 4 receivers that caught any significant passes against Colorado and there were zero receptions (I think Batch missed one or two) for the running backs. Absolutely, this has to be more diverse this week. I did like the change of Alexander Torres inside and if OC Brown is looking for a more reliable receiver, then it's Torres. I don't know that Detron Lewis will have the weekly success on the outside, but he is more physical than Torres and perhaps that will at the very least help. I also find it a bit interesting that Darrin Moore is getting more and more looks as the season continues. He's backing up Lewis and two spots behind Lyle Leong. It might just be a matter of time before he is given more time on the field.
So much more good good after the jump.
TEXAS A&M | If you want to check out an improved defense, then look no further than the Texas A&M defense. They were ranked 105th in total defense and 105th in scoring defense in 2009. The Aggies hired Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter and the results are pretty impressive. In 2010, the Aggies are 29th in total defense and 40th in scoring defense. I think a big part of the Aggies' success is a big part of what Texas Tech is going through, which is they played a lot of young players in 2009 and it's paying off in 2010. And the Aggies aren't doing it on the back of preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year, OLB Von Miller, but instead they're doing it based on some pretty darned good play by the linebackers and an emerging talent, OLB Damontre Moore.
The Aggies also switched to the 3-4 and up front is DE Lucas Patterson, who isn't well-known, but from what I've watched of the Aggies, he's pretty darned good at taking up space. Rounding out the line is DT Eddie Brown, Jr. and Tony Jerod-Eddie. I mentioned Moore, a true freshman from Rowlett (not far from where I live) and he's leading the Aggies in sacks at 5.5 (next closest is 2.5) and 6.5 TFL. Not to forget about Miller, but he was injured for a good part of this year and hasn't quite been himself after having a tremendous 2009.
I mentioned the linebackers and Garrick Williams, Sean Porter and Michael Hodges are the guys leading a team. These three are leading the team in tackles, Hodges has 5.5 TFL, Porter has 3.5 TFL and Williams has 3 TFL. If there's one thing that's evident in looking at the Texas A&M statistics, it's that they get behind the line of scrimmage and are 24th in the nation in tackles for a loss.
With this group, you've got the 10th best rushing defense in the country, allowing only 94.71 yards a game. And they really haven't had an awful game, except for last week against Kansas where the Jayhawks rushed for 201 yards. That was not the norm and prior to last week, they were only allowing 71 yards a game. To say that the rush defense has been good is an understatement. As is the case, you could certainly say that the Aggies haven't faced a true rushing team other than Oklahoma St. and the Cowboys were limited to only 126 yards.
Right behind the linebackers are the secondary, led by CB Terrence Frederick, CB Coryell Judie, SS Steven Terrell and FS Trent Hunter. Also, don't sleep on CB Dustin Harris. In looking at the 3 Aggie losses the only real thing that jumps out at me is that in their 4 wins, they only allow 172.5 yards per game and 4.6 yards/attempt. In their 3 wins,the Aggies allow 318.3 yard per game and 7.5 yards per attempt. If there's anything to hang for me to hang my hat on, it's the idea that there is some success to be had in passing on the Aggies. Running the ball. Not so much.
RT Mickey Okafor vs. OLB Damontre Moore and OLB Von Miller
I think this is the second time that I've thought that Okafor holds one of the key offensive matchups, but right now, and from looking at the stats, Moore may be the best player for Texas A&M. Moore and Miller both play the Joker position, which typically means that they'll line-up outside and rush the passer, but I think you could also see both Moore and Miller line up at different spots along the line to create pressure or mis-matches for teammates. Okafor has been pretty darned solid and the offensive line as a whole hasn't given up a ton of sacks. In fact, in 3 losses, the line has given up 6 sacks and in 4 wins only 7. Those aren't bad numbers. You've got to keep Potts clean.
|Stats||17 Catches | 124 Yards | 0 TD|
I'm curious if I had asked you if Swindall is a starter or not, you'd know the answer. Perhaps the least thrown to and least discussed starting receiver, and with good reason. Swindall has two games where he caught at least 5 passes, and both times he had 42 yards receiving. That's it. That's his most memorable games thus far. The strange thing is that last year, Swindall had 55 catches for 694 yards and 5 touchdowns and was an integral part of the offense. When you don't notice him, it makes it tough to figure out what he's doing wrong and what he's doing right, but something isn't right.