|OPPONENT:||Oklahoma St. Cowboys (9-0, 6-0)|
|DATE:||November 12, 2011|
|WEATHER:||Partly cloudy, high 76|
|TIME:||11:00 a.m. CST|
|GAME CAST:||Fox Sports|
SOLID TEXAS TECH OFFENSIVE LINE PLAY VS. OKLAHOMA ST. DEFENSIVE LINE PRESSURE | For Oklahoma St., their defense isn't spectacular, but it's been good enough, and sometimes that's all you need (all references to rankings are national rankings). OSU is 110th in total defense, 99th in rush defense and 100th in pass defense. That normally would not equal a 9-0 record, but it does, in part because the OSU offense has been so good and they've simply just out-scored opponents. What OSU has been good at is getting to the quarterback and getting behind the line of scrimmage. OSU is 23rd in sacks with 2.67 per game and 22nd in the nation at 7.22 per game. That's a lot. I like defenses that just make plays even if the defense gives up yards and points. It gives your offense the opportunity to score, and if there was every any question about whether or not Oklahoma St. does that, they're #1 in the country in turnover margin.
Meanwhile, the Texas Tech offensive line allowed 4.0 sacks last week and that doesn't account for the times that Doege was flustered and rushed throughout the game. And Texas Tech actually did a fairly decent job of moving the ball between the 20's, it was inside the 20 yard line that was a problem. The offensive line didn't help the scoring situation and can think of Keown's hands-to-the-face penalty as well as a few other false-starts and things like that that cost the offense valuable yards and opportunities inside the redzone. The offensive line has to be close to perfect this week because I don't think this offense can simply score at will. That's the perception, but the reality is that the offense just isn't good enough to do that and has been in a scoring drought of scoring at-will for what feels like all too long.
I fully believe that the Texas Tech offense needs to be running on all cylinders this week. Not really a shocking statment considering how bad the defense has been for almost the entire season, but the offense can't afford to falter. That's problematic and I think that the offense feels the pressure to score each and every time they have the ball and although that's the expectation, the truth is that it's not realistic and with that added pressure knowing that if you don't score, it's likely that the defense is going to give up a score makes the offense press, which is why I think you're seeing more penalties along the line. Even though there is that added pressure, QB Seth Doege does need to be better inside the redzone. That was one of the stats touted last week during the game was the fact that Texas Tech was so good in the redzone throughout the year, but after last week and the inability of the offense to generate much, if anything, my faith is shaken and I'd guess that they're questioning themselves as well.
I asked this after the game, but I want to know where the Pistol offense has gone and I think it needs to make a comeback this week. I know that this isn't popular, but the Texas Tech offense doesn't just need to score, but they also need to keep OSU off the field. If this was just about offenses, OSU has the advantage by a longshot (they're averaging 50 points a game), and the Texas Tech offense needs to somewhat control the clock and I think that this can be better accomplished by being varied, like the offense was earlier in the year, and continuing to use the Pistol offense to give the team some options. It does give the running backs a bit more ability to run downhill, but it also creates a situation where the offense can do some play-action and create some questions for the OSU defense.
Defensive matchups after the jump.
TEXAS TECH DEFENSIVE LINE PLAYING TECHNICALLY VS. OKLAHOMA ST. OKLAHOMA ST. EXECUTION OF OFFENSE | I don't know where to start. OSU has one of, if not the best, offenses in the country and OSU has had one of the best lines for a number of years. They're consistent and the line for OSU grinds out yards year after year, whether it be Gundy, Holgorsen or Monken at the helm, the rushing offense has been stellar and this year is no different. Obviously, the Texas Tech defensive line is in shambles right now. Earlier this week, Tuberville mentioned that he was going to try some different alignments on the line in the hopes that it helps, but right now it comes down to fundamentals and playing technically sound defense. There seem to be too many times this year where the defensive line is getting pushed around, linebackers are out of place and the opposing offense is simply gutting the defense on the ground. I don't know that there's any sort of miracle cure, but it starts with playing technically sound defense, playing assignment-based defense and not letting your opponent move you out of your gap with the hopes that the linebackers can make a play.
Someone along the line has to start making plays. DT Kerry Hyder made plays early in the year, but that's stopped. We read earlier this week how the pass rush is non-existent because the defense can't stop the run. That's all true. It seems like its been weeks since I can remember DE Leon Mackey and DE Scott Smith make a meaningful impact because they just haven't had the opportunity to rush the quarterback and part of the reason is that the interior of the line isn't getting it done and it creates a situation where the defensive ends can't just go after the quarterback. OSU still likes to throw the ball and perhaps there will be some opportunity there, but that can't mean that Smith or Mackey can just ignore the running game. They're going to have to play sound defense and the entire line is going to have to pressure Weeden.
Oklahoma St. runs the ball at a rate of 169.78 yards per game, which is good for 46th in the country. Considering the passing offense is 2nd in the country at 387.56 yards a game, this is more than acceptable and given the problems that Texas Tech has had in stopping the run, I'm expecting OSU to run the ball and let QB Brandon Weeden fill in the gaps. Weeden can beat you so many ways and the Cowboy receivers are skilled and WR Justin Blackmon is a physically imposing receiver that can make plays like Michael Crabtree could. He's just a physical specimen and that alone creates problems. Blackmon is the main receiving threat and I think I'd force Weeden to beat the defense with someone other than Blackmon, but that's easier said than done.
I'm not optimistic as Oklahoma St. has proven all year that their offense can get the job done as well as anyone else in the country. Weeden has passed for over 300 yards for 7 of their 9 games and the worst game for Weeden was against Texas where he only threw for 218 yards. OSU still gained 202 yards on the Longhorns on the ground. OSU's closes game came against Texas A&M where they only allowed 46 yards rushing and I think that's the best opportunity for Texas Tech. Force RB Joseph Randle and the OSU rushing attack to pass the ball (I don't like this option, but I don't have many), double-team Blackmon and make someone else the hero.