Its Cinco de Mayo so let’s get after it. Seems to be about 4 or 5 trains of thought here among the DTN faithful here. One the Sunshine pumpers are sure we will win 11 games and challenge for the Big 12 title. I won’t mention the crack heads who say it’s onto the MNC. The folks on the other end of the spectrum who are decrying the teams talent level displayed, which is clearly mediocre. In their opinion the team might win 7 games if someone doesn’t get off the bus .. Who could that be?
Then we have the range of "qualified" supporters who really haven’t given Tommy Tuberville their full support because and I quote .. "Well he hasn’t won a game in Lubbock yet so until he whips (insert team and venue here ) I won’t say he is the real deal." Unquote. So wherein does the truth lie? .. oh about center of mass. The Tech team is neither as good as we all wish for it to be nor as bad as the haters desire it to be. The casual observer would say well they often lead the nation scoring offense, a passing yards per play total or overall efficiency. i.e. scoring when touching the ball etc etc. So it’s a fair point that in fact Coach Neal can execute some offense. I think the Spring game put any no offense doubters to rest. It’s a fact they have a serviceable but replacement rich offensive line. Right 3 x new guys have to start. That’s just college ball. It’s likely that the one of the 4 x very good to excellent running backs moving behind this serviceable but not superstar O Line will gain more than say 600 yards and another 350 plus catching screen passes. The wide receivers on the team have already contributed a shade under 25 TD receptions and they are really 2.5 plus deep. I don’t see the performance drop off between Zouzalic and Swindle. Right they don’t have overwhelming speed or size but they usually catch around 7 of 10 passes (70%) as a unit that get within 3 feet of their bodies. So it’s a safe assumption you’ll see another 3200 -3800 yards contributed from this unit. The nerve cell of this scoring machine are directed by one of three game tested QB’s. All of which are again not spectacular but serviceable Steven Sheffield, Taylor Potts, and Seth Doege can all throw anywhere on the field given its under 45 yards and no 300 pound down linemen is slapping then to the turf or hanging onto their ankles. You are all smart football fans this just means that if that serviceable O line blocks somebody for 3 - 4.5 seconds the QB will complete 70 percent of their passes equaling a first down, second down, first down scenario. And they will do that consistently with the occasional 5.5 yard scamper by RB to convert the 3rd and 1.. it’s not an aggressive bet they are capable of doing so consistently over 70 percent of the time. It’s a recipe for 5100 – 6000 yards of total offense less 400 – 550 yards worth of holding penalties . I think the most "qualified" fan among you can sign up for that as the probable Tech offensive numbers by season’s end.
We have been beaten about the head and shoulders for the last 6 or 7 weeks by Tommy Tuberville moaning about how bad a shape the defense as a whole is. Woe is me we are slow, woe is me we are small, woe is me we are weak in leg strength, woe is me we can’t get enough DB’s or down linemen. You get the picture we are miserable and can’t find our ass with both hands. It’s all just coach speak and the reality is between the 9 x down linemen we could have and should have play in 2010 season are pretty good. At least 5 x are going to notch between 12 - 20 tackles, some for a loss and one is going get more than 10 sacks. It’s the nature of the Folks and 3-4 scheme Coach Willis is schooling up. The 2 x deep linebacker rotation is bound to yield some surprises Bird will lead all tacklers with 85 - 95 tackles, but Sam Fehoko will be the most disruptive- he might not make the tackle but he will be allowed to force the action blow up the play. Brian Duncan will lead this unit in sacks with 8 -12. But more importantly he will also lead it with 20-30 QB hurries. In the tipped pass or passes broken up category it’s unclear who the dime linebacker is but my bet is Ford or J. Howard will get the most hits on short pattern receivers. So what does that grade out to be? Oh just the 3rd or even 2nd best pass defense of the Big 12 secondary’s? On the Def back rotation we want a couple of lock down corner backs. Well according to Coach Willis we don’t have them but we are going to press, bump, harass and otherwise get in the face of every receiver on every play and just eliminate the effects of the spread which Baylor, OU, Ut, aTm and OSU will display. So who gets the call in each package? Well in base defense its Cody Davis @ Safety, Eugene Neboh @ CB , Laron Moore @ CB, Franklin Mitchem@ Safety. Thing is as others have stated dedfisher, Tallmike or TTPilk or somebody said we are abandoning the bend but don’t break tactic. This translates to someone is going to get burned in man coverage occasionally. Probably once a game just based on the laws of chaos.
In Nickel coverage D.J. Johnsoncomes on the field and in Dime coverage its Julius Howard plus Terrence Bullit. Either Fehoko or Bird are on the field for every snap. B. Duncan comes off in 3rd and short i.e. less than 5 yards and someone like C. Perry, B. Barbee, K. Hyder or D. Neill gets on the field as an extra Def end. So what we are likely to see is a defense which routinely stuffs folks on first downs, allows a 5 yards on 2nd down and bows up in 3rd down. Say 50 % success rate in getting the offense off the field in third and short situations. No one but UT and OU have the horses to challenge the new Tech defense in 4th and short. Sam Fehoko might just set a single season record for tackles for a loss.
So how does the self respecting Tech fan feel about the upcoming season ? I‘d say cautiously optimistic. What say you?
Ps. get your sunshine pumpers tuned up.
PSS. IOT satisfiy some irritated DTNers it is a Cinco de Mayo requirement to cool Mexican beer and toast the winner of the Battle of Puebla on this date in 1862.