TEXAS TECH RUSH OFFENSE VS. OKLAHOMA RUSH DEFENSE | Not surprisingly, Oklahoma is actually doing a pretty good job with the rush defense, good for 50th in the nation and 143 yards a game, while Texas Tech is slowly but surely creeping up the rushing charts at 125 yards a game and 92nd in the nation. The rushing yardage given up by OU is a little bit deceiving in that the Sooners gave up a whopping 351 yards to Air Force, and not matter who plays Air Force, your numbers will end up a little skewed. However, the two losses on OU's ledger came against Missouri, where they allowed 178 yards on 39 carries, and Texas A&M, where they allowed 157 yards on 38 carries. Controlling the clock and controlling the game.
To dive a bit deeper, OU is giving up yards on the ground, and the YPC average is 5th in the conference and it's not necessarily a magic mark of if OU allows X yards rushing and Z per carry, then the Sooners lose. OU has had three blowout wins, Florida St. Iowa St. and Colorado. Both Iowa St. and Colorado were held to under 100 yards. Of course, both of those conference blowout wins happened in Norman, so perhaps the bigger picture here isn't so much that there's a definable amount, but rather that to even have a chance against OU, you've got to run the ball a little bit, and it would be best to rush for over 150 yards.
The OU defensive line begins with DE Jeremy Beal, one of the better players in the conference. Opposite of Beal is Frank Alexander and Beal and in the interior are DT's Adrian Taylor and Stacy McGee. The guy who will never graduate, WLB Travis Lewis is only a junior and he's a really good sideline-to-sideline player. I did notice that redshirt freshman Tom Wort is 5th on the team in tackles and he's an active linebacker that makes some plays behind the line of scrimmage (3rd on the team with 6.5 TFL).
Of course reaching that 150 yard mark isn't so easy for Texas Tech. But would anyone be at all surprised that in wins, Texas Tech rushes for 147 yards a game and when Texas Tech loses it's 97 yards a game. I know that it's totally cool to say that OC Neal Brown is running the offense all wrong by using the run to set up the pass, but he's not doing that, even after having a 50/50 ratio last week against Missouri, Texas Tech is still passing at a 59% rate and running at a 41% rate. And with the success that this team has had running the ball, especially when the quarterback play is inconsistent and the offensive line is starting to click it makes sense.
More good-strong after the jump.
I keep repeating this week-in and week-out, but the starting offensive linemen are the only ones seeing any playing time. There aren't any familiar names seeing any significant playing time other that Chris Olson getting a handful of plays at tight end, but that's about it. Your five, which will also be your five next year, is LT LaAdrian Waddle, LG Lonnie Edwards, C Justin Keown, RG Deveric Gallington, RT Mickey Okafor.
Last week was not RB Baron Batch's best rushing game as he rushed for 136 yards in 2009 against . . . Oklahoma. I'm sure that the Sooners won't have to be reminded about that. RB Eric Stephens was benched again for fumbling, but I wouldn't expect that to last. Meanwhile RB Aaron Crawford continues to impress fans and coaches. He only had 6 carries last week, but he was incredibly effective. In my very untrained eye, a bulk of Batch's carries was when the line was zone blocking while when Crawford ran it was man blocking. I think this is a good mix of the different running styles and shows that Batch is finally figuring out how to find those cut-back lanes while Crawford is just better at hitting the hole and moving forward. One more note, on the official depth chart, it no longer states that the starter is Batch OR Stephens and just lists Batch, followed by Stephens and then by Crawford.
TEXAS TECH PASS OFFENSE VS. OKLAHOMA PASS DEFENSE | It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see OU try the same thing that Missouri was successful throwing at QB Steven Sheffield, which was force Potts not to take his time in looking down the field, pinch the pocket and force quick and bad decisions. Whoever is at quarterback, it's more about not letting the offense develop. We talked above about how the rush defense is a bit skewed with the Air Force rushing game, in the passing arena, the Sooners only allowed 107 yards passing in that game, but for the season OU is 84th in the country in passing defense, allowing 231.67 yards a game. This isn't a team that just doesn't give up passing yards, as in year's past (i.e. last year the Sooners were 22nd in the nation in passing defense).
The Sooner defensive backfield is led by FS Quinton Carter and SS Jonathan Nelson, both seniors. Nelson is 2nd on the team in tackles and Carter is 3rd, while Carter has 2 interceptions and Nelson has 1. CB Jamell Fleming leads the team with 4 interceptions and CB Demontre Hurst is your other starter.
QB Taylor Potts is expected to get the start, although I'm a proponent of not letting one quarterback flounder out there too long. If Potts struggles, then at this point of the season, it can't hurt to see what Steven Sheffield can do. And Potts continues to keep his 4:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, standing at 24 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Despite a bad interception last week, Potts continues to really limit his mistakes.
With Alexander Torress and Jacoby Franks out, I thought the receiver group played pretty well against Missouri. Not perfect, and Detron Lewis continues to be really good (but still misses wide-open passes). It's pretty amazing to consider, but WR Lyle Leong is your touchdown leader at 15 and if you fear replacing one player next year, replacing Leong should be your fear. And if OU is going to focus on one player, it's probably going to be Leong. I continue to write this, but at some point during the season, this team really needs a break-out performance from some receiver not named Leong. Lewis has been solid, but he hasn't been spectacular. But with one starter out, Torres, and a top four receiver, Franks, also out, I thought this group pulled it together a bit, but the truth is that it was still Leong doing the heavy lifting and Lewis contributing. I did appreciate seeing WR Eric Ward getting some time and I appreciated the staff getting him the ball on some wide receiver screens, which means that OC Brown wanted him involved and wanted to get him some touches. There were 10 receivers that caught a pass last week and there were 30 receptions total, with Leong catching 9 of them. I'd still like to see more balance, but if Leong continues to dominate, then the request for better balance may be irrelevant (i.e. see Crabtree in 2008 and 2007).