Keys to the Game | SMU Mustangs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

KEY 1: PRESSURE PADRON

Watch this highlight video from SMU's game against Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl and the one thing that I take away from watching Padron and the SMU offense is that in the highlights, he's got a relatively clean pocket and Padron is going vertical for the big plays. Getting pressure on Padron and collapsing the pocket should be a huge part of any success that Texas Tech has defensively. I've mentioned this before, but SMU is not a dink-and-dump offense.  Now that we know that the defense is going to try to get as many pass-rushers on the field as possible, Brian Duncan and Scott Smith on the ends with Sam Fehoko getting a look at the Buck linebacker position.  Don't get me wrong, it would be great to get a little bit of pressure up the middle and I might be drinking the kool-aid, but I do think that Colby Whitlock, Myles Wade, Lawrence Rumph and Donald Langley are going to be better than expected and I'm not expecting a huge drop-off in talent once the starters leave the game or from last year.  It's not a secret and quite frankly, it's somewhat lazy to say that it starts up front, but with SMU, I think it's going to be imperative to try to knock SMU off rhythm because once they get started, it's hard to stop.

KEY 2: BREAKING DOWN THE RUN-N-SHOOT

First, you really need to watch this video where Jones breaks down the Run N Shoot:

 

More good good after the jump.

Here's a quick summary for those of you too lazy to watch (or unable to do at work):  two formations, very little motion, and the quarterback reads the coverage on the snap of the football. Defensive coverages do not affect what they do on offense. The flat receiver is essentially the tell for the quarterback and the flat receiver adjusts his route based on defensive coverage.

The interesting thing that Jones says at the end is that he would prefer that defenses come after his offense because he thinks that leaves holes available for his quarterback open receivers and when a tackle is missed, it's a touchdown. I'm pretty sure that we can expect Tuberville to go after SMU and I think that a couple of huge keys for the Texas Tech defense is going to be not missing assignments defensively and not missing tackles.  One other thought is that you might not necessarily see Tuberville simply bring a blitz each and every down, but what you might see is a different defender each and every pressuring Padron, whether it be a linebacker, safety, corner, etc.  I keep thinking that you'll see three rush the quarterback and you won't necessarily know where the fourth pass-rusher will be originating.

KEY 3: OFFENSIVE LINE DOMINANCE

SMU Week
MONDAY Five Questions
TUESDAY What We Think We Know
WEDNESDAY Keys to the Game
THURSDAY Reasons for Concern and Optimism
FRIDAY Prediction Time

I'm not so much worried about the skill positions (insert quarterback comment here), but it's the offensive line. OL coach Moore set his offensive line a couple of weeks ago and I get the impression that he's pretty happy with his starting five, but he's worried about depth. Right now, I'm still not sure about who starts at left tackle, which can be a problem considering the inconsistency last year. These are the guys in the mix: RT: Chris Olson; RG: Deveric Gallington; C: Justin Keown; LG: Lonnie Edwards; and LT: LaAdrian Waddle .  Both Mickey Okafor / Terry McDaniel should round out the top seven.

Tuberville has mentioned, as well has some of the members of the offensive line that the 31 sacks that the team gave up last year was unacceptable. Considering the number of pass attempts that Texas Tech has last year, the number of sacks given up might not be an acceptable figure, however, when you consider sacks per pass attempt, Texas Tech was still 8th in the conference (1 sack for every 21.58 pass attempts), which is not acceptable. Still the volume of sacks isn't good, especially when you consider that in prior years, the most sacks that the offensive line gave up was 18 (2006 - 18; 2007 - 18; and 2008 - 13).

I'd love to see the offensive line and offensive coordinator try to take advantage of an SMU defense that was atrocious against the run last year, giving up 166 yards a game. Not only did they give up 166 yards a game, but the Ponies were prone to giving up huge chunks on the ground. Of their 13 games last year, SMU gave up over 200 yards on 5 different games and over 150 yards on 7 different occasions. If the Texas Tech offensive line can dominate the line of scrimmage early and often, the passing game should open with relative ease.

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