Offensive Matchups | Northwestern Wildcats Defense vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders Offense

TEXAS TECH OFFENSE VS. NORTHWESTERN DEFENSE | It's finally time to delve into some real life football. Discuss some players and find out what Northwestern can do and what they can't do. Just judging from the numbers, Texas Tech is still a superior offensive team to most opponents. As you'd expect, Texas Tech is still lagging a bit rushing the ball, but at this time last year, Texas Tech was averaging only 81.08 yards a carry, yet ranked 115th in the nation. Texas Tech is up about 50 yards a game and has moved up to 82nd in the nation in rushing offense. This is either progress for some of you or a regression for others. Personally, I'm fine with being a little more versatile, but I'd still like for this team to be more efficient when they do run the ball. In comparison to last year, Texas Tech has about 89 additional rushes on the year to last year which works out to about 7 additional carries a game. All the while, the rushing offense did move up from 3.42 yards per attempt to 4.05 yards per attempt this year.

Over the course of the year, Texas Tech truly struggled early in the year, and it's evident in the CFBStats split rushing stats. The rushing offense got better, and more efficient for the most part throughout the year. It's pretty amazing, and I think the sour taste left in our mouths from the Texas game is still there, but there has been improvement. From 62.5 yards/game in August/September, 82.60 in October, to 103.67 in November and 119.00 in December (this was only 1 game). Just like anything else, by the end of the year, Texas Tech had pretty much started the same offensive line for the entire year. Early in the year, OL coach Moore toyed with the idea of having Chris Olson as the right tackle, but by the third game of the season, Mickey Okafor had taken over that spot. Moore tends to fiddle with the lineup for the first part of the year and I understand him wanting to give Olson an opportunity to take the job, but Okafor has been solid for a good part of the year.

Category Texas Tech Northwestern Edge
Pass Offense vs. Pass Defense 314.75 (8, 3) 230.50 (85, 8)
Rush Offense vs. Rush Defense 137.83 (82, 10) 185.17 (92, 9)
Total Offense vs. Total Defense 452.58 (16, 4) 415.67 (92, 10)
Scoring Offense vs. Scoring Defense 32.08 (34, 6) 27.67 (67, 7)

And there's no doubt that there's a direct correlation between how the offensive line performs and the performance of the team. And there's no doubt that the line stumbled out of the gate and the line gave up 2.33 sacks per game in those August/September games, 1.60 in October, 1.50 in November and none in December. They've gotten better and there's no doubt that the offensive line is a bit reason why there was an uptick in how things looked at the end of the year (in addition to the late non-conference opponents).

More after the jump.

I'm not sure what else I can say about the offense that we don't already know. QB Taylor Potts has been better this year, and as mentioned before, the biggest part was that he cut down on his interceptions and increased his touchdowns. I'm happy for Potts on some level, I get the feeling that he's a good guy that's just taken some time to get it. It would be really nice to see RB Eric Stephens take ahold of his fumbling issues. He has the first shot to be given the job next year, it would be nice to see him make a statement in this game. I don't know if Northwestern has the horses to keep up with the receiving options that Texas Tech has. That's not to say that Northwestern doesn't see spread teams or that they aren't a spread team themselves, but I have to imagine it's going to be a bit different. This is probably my favorite part about bowl games is that there's oftentimes a contrast in style of play and it's interesting to see which team can adjust.

The Northwestern defensive line is anchored by DE Kevin Watt, DE Vince Browne, DT Corbin Bryant, and DT Jack DiNardo. Browne is the teams' sack leader, by far, with 7.0 for the year and also had 15.0 TFL for the year. He's the guy that's going to disrupt the offensive line and he's also managed to make 57 tackles on the year. Other than Browne, no other player has more than 2.0 sacks on the year while DiNardo (30 tackles), Watt (24 tackles) and Bryant (21 tackles) are all fairly major contributors on the line, but in terms of making plays, it's just not there.

Behind Browne in terms of play-making ability is MLB Nate Williams, who is second on the team in tackles with 82 and 9.5 TFL for the year along with 2 sacks. Rounding out the linebackers is OLB's Quentin Davie (56 tackles) and Bryce McNaul (61 tackles). Interestingly, all three of the Northwestern linebackers are in the 6-3/230 range and I'm curious if they'll remain on the field or if they'll go to a more standard nickel defense (possibly S David Arnold).

Like a lot of less than stellar defenses, including Texas Tech's which we'll get to later, the Northwestern defense is led by SS Brian Peters, who does a ton for the Wildcats. Peters leads the team in tackles with 97, has 3.5 TFL and is tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions. He does a lot for NU and he actually has pretty good size (6-4/215) and appears to be more linebacker than safety (maybe this is just true in the Big 12). Fellow FS Jared Carpenter isn't quite as involved defensively, while CB's Jordan Mabin (58 tackles) and Justan Vaughn (51 tackles) have quite a few tackles, but between the starting two cornerbacks, they combined have 1 interception.

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