TEXAS TECH | Some good and bad, and by the time this preview is published, we might have an answer at quarterback: Steven Sheffield vs. Taylor Potts. I've thought that this thing needed something else, something that Potts wasn't capable of giving the team and if Sheffield gets a chance to run the team, I'll be happy with that, but I also know that if Sheffield doesn't start, I'm not blaming the coaching staff, but rather Sheffield. It seems that the coaching staff (including the prior staff) wanted Sheffield to practice a certain way and although I'm not in practice, I have to assume that Sheffield never wanted to conform. He was always going to do it his way. I think the staff reached the same conclusion that a lot of us have made, which is that Potts is what he is, which is an okay quarterback. With Sheffield, he can't play defense and having Sheffield at quarterback may be part of the solution, but his possible insertion into the lineup is not a panacea.
With Torres out for the rest of the year, the receiving corps takes a significant hit and I don't know of a reliable receiver that's well suited to take Torres' new inside receiver spot. WR Detron Lewis can obviously swing back inside and perhaps you can then move Darrin Moore or Eric Ward (both outside receivers) outside. But now you have two receivers on the field with Ward and Lewis that aren't the most consistent on the team. Moore has impressed with the time he's been on the field, and he seemed to have a bit of chemistry with Sheffield in at quarterback. And Tuberville mentioned earlier this week that Zouzalik is about 50% or 60% for Saturday, so now you're down another reliable receiver. Losing Torres hurts, there's no way around it. If you want my half-arse idea, I'd think abouty moving RB Ben McRoy to this inside receiver slot. Sure, he doesn't have the size of Torres, but he's awfully quick. I'd love to see McRoy taking a slant pass over the middle and turning it into 50 yards in the blink of an eye.
It doesn't make any sense to me, but RB Eric Stephens continues to be this team's best running back, however, his two fumbles this year (I think) were absolute killers, especially fumbling in the endzone. It's unacceptable to a point and Stephens has to be more careful with the ball. And although I don't necessarily blame Stephens for that fumble at TAMU as he wasn't being careless, but it's on him. He has to be better. Tuberville also mentioned that we'd more likely see both Aaron Crawford and Harrison Jeffers a bit more. Crawford is the forgotten running back on this team, although he continues to play hard and plays special teams. Perhaps this is a bit of a reward for doing his job.
The offensive line continues is the toughest thing to make an intelligent comment considering I haven't seen them play in what seems like a lifetime. The starting five of LT LaAdrian Waddle, LG Lonnie Edwards, C Justin Keown, RG Deveric Gallington and RT Mickey Okafor were the only players that actually played on Saturday. There wasn't even an appearance by TE/RT Chris Olson. The rushing offense regressed a bit last week, only 102 yards in 21 carries. OC Neal Brown said after earlier this week that the rushing totals were a bit off because they were having to dig their way out of the deficit. It would be nice not to be in a deficit against a very good Missouri offense and defense.
More after the jump.
MISSOURI | If you're looking to take advantage of a poor Missouri defense, then don't read any further. The defense is actually pretty good. Prior to last week's game against Missouri, the Tigers were 38th in total defense, and have moved back to 52nd in total defense after giving up 454 yards against Nebraska. Still, despite give up 31 points to the Huskers, Missouri is still 9th in the nation in scoring defense. They may give up a few yards, but they're stingy when it comes to points.
The defensive line starts DE Jacquies Smith, DT Terrell Resonno, NG Jimmy Burge, and DE Aldon Smith. I talked about Smith during the preseason and he a special player to watch. Smith was injured a bit this season and has come back over the last two weeks or so. He's yet to record a sack since coming back, but he's due. And even without Smith, this defense is getting to the quarterback, leading the Big 12 and 7th in the nation. DE Brad Madison had 3 sacks against TAMU and leads the team with 4 overall, but Rutland, Gooden and Smith all have 3 or more sacks. The linebackers are led by starters WLB Zaviar Gooden, MLB Will Ebner, and SLB Andrew Gachkar. Gachkar and Gooden lead the team in tackles and are part of a defense that is allowing 141.25 yards a game (again, they're giving up yards, but not many points), which is good for 50th in the nation.
The secondary starts CB Carl Gettis, CB Kevin Rutland, FS Jarrell Harrison, and SS Kenji Jackson and it will be interesting to see how the Missouri defense plays Texas Tech. I have awful memories of Mizzou dropping 7 or 8 players into coverage, basically begging Texas Tech to just take the easy stuff. That worries me quite a bit with Potts at the helm, but I think Sheffield is more likely to take chances. There may be some turnovers as a result, but if Missouri stick to form, then I think from an offensive strategy standpoint, Sheffield makes more sense throwing the ball down the field and taking opportunities to run when available. Missouri is giving up only 212 yards passing a game, which is good for 50th in the nation (to dream of having a pass defense that allows less than 300 yards of passing is silly).
LG Lonnie Edwards, C Justin Keown and RG Deveric Gallington vs. NG Jimmy Burge and DT Terrell Resonno
I'm convinced that the interior Texas Tech line needs to start creating some positive space for Batch and Stephens. Although I haven't watched the TTU vs. TAMU game, there were too many times that Batch was stopped for little or no yards and that's a problem. I think that Stephens probably has a bit more success because he's able to bounce things outside, but Texas Tech's interior 3 need to create some space, especially if Missouri backs off the line and Sheffield needs to recognize the Missouri defense and show some deference to the run game if the Tigers are backing players off the line.
|Stats||6 Catches | 39 Yards | 0 TD|
Potts threw one pass that fell incomplete to Moore, but when Sheffield got in the game, Moore caught a 14 yard pass and a 12 yard pass in a drive that led to a Leong touchdown. I'm sure I've reminded everyone who Moore is before, but he originally signed with UTEP out of high school was dismissed from the team and played at Blinn JC last year, which is why he's just a sophomore. With a depleted receiving corps, Moore may be one of the guys that gets his number called a bit more this week. His season stats aren't all that impressive, but I do think he's a talented player and with his size should create some matchup issues for Missouri.