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

 

TEXAS TECH DEFENSE VS. NORTHWESTERN OFFENSE | Thank goodness that Northwestern isn't a top 25 pass offense, otherwise I think Texas Tech might be in some trouble. If you cannot tell that this is sarcasm, then you don't know me well. The pass defense started out on the wrong foot and it's never gotten back on track. I intend on getting to this later in the offseason, but I've praised the book from Pat Kirwan on the NFL and one of the chapters deals with defensive backs. The thought is that cornerbacks that play man coverage and cornerbacks that play zone coverage are two completely different type of players. What they are asked to do are completely different. Sure, they play the same position, but their responsibilities are completely different. Perhaps the biggest thing is that when a cornerback is playing man coverage, his rear-end is facing the quarterback and is trying to force the receiver to the outside along the sideline, while a cornerback playing zone coverage has his rear-end facing the sideline and is trying to force the receiver towards the middle of the field. I'm going back in my mental memory of the games and it seems like that most, if not all of the long passes were completed along the sideline, which is exactly what Willis wants. Well, he doesn't necessarily want the completions to be made, but the cornerbacks are forcing the opposing receivers into the correct coverage.

I'm sure that no one is going to think that this is a positive except for me as I try to find some good out of what has been an awful season for the defense. My positive is that the defensive backs, although they're struggling to look back at the ball, another concept that cornerbacks that play zone coverage generally do not have to master, and force incompletions, are playing the correct defense. With James Willis no longer a part of the program, I think we'll see if this trend with the next defensive coordinator continues in that will the coordinator be willing to play more zone coverage considering the personnel?  More immediately, you have to wonder what the game-plan will be on New Year's Day and this will give something to watch on defense.

The Northwestern offense is largely a running team as 59% of their plays are running plays, although only 38% of their yards is a result of that rushing offense. Conversely, only 41% of the plays called are pass plays, but gains 62% of the passing yards. And those numbers have changed as a result of the Persa injury (more on that below). Northwestern is still running the ball 58% of the time, although the offense is gaining 57% of their yards on the ground, most likely in that the backup quarterback for Northwestern just isn't the passer that the starter was.

Category Northwestern Texas Tech Edge
Pass Offense vs. Pass Defense 242.58 (40, 3) 306.08 (120, 12)
Rush Offense vs. Rush Defense 149.83 (68, 7) 157.00 (68, 8) PUSH
Total Offense vs. Total Defense 392.42 (49, 5) 463.08 (116, 12)
Scoring Offense vs. Scoring Defense 25.42 (74, 8) 30.33 (85, 10)

 

More after the jump.

The Northwestern offense was largely driven by QB Dan Persa, who was injured late in the season and will not play this game. Persa was responsible for 310 yards a game, including over 50 yards a game. Now the Wildcat offense will rely on redshirt freshman Evan Watkins, who isn't the player that Persa is. Over the course of 6 games, Watkins is completing only 53% of his passes, 6.2 yards/attempt, 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. The bulk of Watkins' playing time was against two of the biggest losses for Northwestern, a 27-48 loss to Illinois and a 23-70 loss to Wisconsin. And with Watkins at the helm, Northwestern had their lowest total offense output of the year with 318 and 284 yards of total offense for those games.

The running back position is spearheaded by Mike Trumpy (116 Att; 530 Yds; 4 TD) with Adonis Smith (30 Att; 135 Yds; 0 TD), Stephen Simmons (32 Att; 123 Yds; 0 TD) helping out. As you might expect, Persa was actually the team's second leading rusher and led all rushers with 9 touchdowns.

Without Persa, Watkins and the receivers are struggling to find many yards to make a difference with Watkins in the lineup. By a longshot, Jeremy Ebert is the team's best receiver (59 Rec; 919 Yds; 15.58 Avg; 8 TD) and it's not even close. Demetrius Fields (38 Rec; 437 Yds; 11.50 Avg; 0 TD) is second in yards on the team. I always get a bit concerned with tight ends that can catch and Drake Dunsmore is that guy (39 Rec; 378 Yds; 9.69 Avg; 5 TD). Interestingly, there's only two players for Northwestern that get the ball into the endzone, and that's Ebert and Dunsmore.

The offensive line starts with left tackle Al Netter, left guard Brian Mulroe, center Ben Burkett, right guard Keegan Grant, and right tackle Patrick Ward. Grant is the only senior of the bunch, although the line did give up a whopping 3.25 sacks per game, which is good for 115th in the nation.

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