Double-T Nation's extensive game preview of the Texas Tech Red Raiders versus the hated Mizzou Tigers.
|OPPONENT:||Missouri Tigers (5-5, 3-4)|
|DATE:||November 19, 2011|
|WEATHER:||Scattered Storms, high 66|
|TIME:||2:30 p.m. CST|
|GAME CAST:||Fox Sports|
TEXAS TECH FINDING SOME MOJO VS. EXECUTION OF THE OFFENSE | I mentioned this earlier in the week, but wanted to focus on this a bit, this whole idea of finding some confidence so that the team plays better. I just can't buy that concept of "finding confidence". Maybe this is why I'm not a head coach, but it just doesn't make any sense to me. There's no doubt that there's something terribly wrong with the Texas Tech offense, from top to bottom, but I don't know if it's a confidence issue. At one time, I think that you could have pegged me as a person that believed that scheme matters, but now I'm not so sure. Scheme can be a tad bit overrated. That's not to say that some schemes work better than others, but what I think what matters most is execution of the offense. There's a reason why the teams at the top of the NCAA offensive leaderboard are better than others and I think that a lot of it has to do with execution and for whatever reason, I think that the execution is lacking.
I don't have any solid data and as I went back and watched the Oklahoma St. game I do believe that the offense is the same offense that ran out there against Oklahoma. From what I could tell from my untrained eye is that the offense is the same, but there seems to be a lack of execution. From the offensive line to the receivers, things aren't clicking. I can buy that a team isn't confident and that can lead to some problems, but if the execution is there, then the offense is going to succeed. Although this is a team game, this is also about individual matchups and beating the man in front of you. That's not happening, whether it be on the offensive line or the receivers. The Texas Tech offensive players aren't beating the man in front of them on a regular basis and I think that's what I see as the problem. I don't know that OC Neal Brown needs to instill confidence in these players, but what I do think he needs to emphasize is that this offense, nor will any offense, work if you don't take care of the man in front of you and beat the opposing defender. If you want to instill confidence by doing that, then I think that's something to look at, which is getting back to basics and beating the man in front of you. I'm still in favor of taking some of the pressure off of QB Seth Doege by running the Pistol Offense and I think it would create some matchup issues for Missouri given the fact that this team hasn't run many plays out of that set for more than a handful of weeks. It would hopefully create some uncertainty for a defense, not knowing whether or not it will be RB Aaron Crawford and RB DeAndre Washington getting the ball or perhaps some play-action for Doege in an attempt to find the playmakers getting down the field, like WR Eric Ward and WR Darrin Moore. It might also help the middle of the field stuff as you might see IR Alex Torres and IR Bradley Marquez do what has made them successful (moreso Torres), which is get into some open space, pull the linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage and let them try to make some defenders miss.
Missouri has struggled a bit, but they've also won their fair share of games against some decent Big 12 opponents. Wins against Texas and Texas A&M stand out, but last week's win against Texas was most likely a huge boost for their confidence. They only allowed a field goal against a Texas offense and that's worrisome. If Missouri can do that against Texas, I'm not certain what to think about what might happen to Texas Tech. Missouri is 46th in the nation in passing defense and 52nd in the nation in rushing defense. Prior to that, the Missouri defense was struggling, giving up 45 points to OU, 31 points to TAMU and 42 points to Baylor, but those are all excellent offensive teams. Texas Tech was a good offensive team up until Iowa St.
Last week, Oklahoma St. had 7 tackles for a loss and Missouri is 16th in the nation in TFL. I haven't had the opportunity to watch much of Missouri, but that probably means that the defensive line is going to be aggressive and as mentioned above, Texas Tech needs to do something to make Missouri pull back a bit. With that being said, I'm not confident heading to Columbia for this game as this seems to be a place where Texas Tech hasn't performed well. That's bothersome, although I usually tend to believe that history has little to do with what happens on the field on any given day. Still, I can look to the past three weeks as a history lesson and not feel confident about what will happen on Saturday.
Defensive matchups are after the jump. If you dare . . .
JUST STOP SOMEONE, ANYONE VS. THE MOBILE QUARTERBACK | Nothing has given this defense more fits than a mobile quarterback and QB James Franklin qualifies as a mobile quarterback. That's not to say that non-mobile quarterbacks haven't hurt Texas Tech as well, but Nevada's Cody Fajardo, Iowa St.'s Jared Barnett, and Kansas St.'s Collin Klein have all had mobile quarterbacks that had offenses put up big numbers against Texas Tech (so have pocket passers like Landry Jones and Ryan Tannehill). I wrote last week about how the defense needs to be technically sound and that still stands, but I'm really at a loss at this point.
I could certainly point to the issues with injuries in the secondary, losing CB Tre Porter for the year, SS Terrance Bullitt playing with a shoulder that was dislocated is probably affecting his effectiveness, moving Happiness Osunde from safety to cornerback, as well as WR Shawn Corker to cornerback and IR Cornelius Douglas moving to safety is proof enough that there are problems with depth and athletic ability at the safety position. Consider that Osunde was a cornerback in JUCO last year, was moved to free safety, most likely because of the continued depth issues at that spot, and has now moved back to cornerback after moving a player like Corker, who hasn't played defense in two years there. I know that no one likes to hear about personnel, but I do think it's a problem in the secondary and this isn't an attempt to make excuses. There are problems there.
Now add the loss of DT Donald Langley with a broken ankle and you've got a recipie for disaster as I try to wrap my head around how this defense is going to stop any team the rest of the way. I talked about confidence with the offense, and I don't see how you can create or instill any confidence in this unit moving forward.
Losing RB Henry Josey is certainly a huge part of the Missouri offense and it shouldn't be over-looked, but Franklin poses a huge problem for this defense as he's more than capable of finding capable receivers such as IR T.J. Moe, and TE Michael Egnew to make enough plays in the passing game.
It starts with stopping Franklin on the ground and forcing Franklin to beat you with his arm. I'm not confident that will happen, and although Josey was integral to the offense, RB Kendial Lawrence rushed for 106 yards on Texas, so he's at least capable of filling in for Josey. The Missouri offensive line is more than capable of protecting Franklin, only allowing 1.50 sacks per game (despite losing their starting left tackle to start the season). Missouri has a high-powered rush offense, 12th in the nation at 234.60 yards per game and although Franklin isn't setting the word on fire with his arm, he's still good enough to lead an offense that's 12th in the nation at 482.80 yards per game.
I'm not sure what tricks Texas Tech can pull out of it's hat against Missouri. The young linebackers are still struggling and the loss of Langley puts the spotlight squarely on DT Chris Perry and DT Dennell Wesley to pick up where Langley left off. That's not encouraging considering they've both made little to no impact for most of the year. DT Kerry Hyder is seemingly wearing down a bit and you can probalby chalk that up to his size and not getting a lot of help inside. Last week, DE Scott Smith said that he hasn't had the opportunity to just tee-off against an opposing offensive line and he and DE Leon Mackey aren't going to be able to do that this week either. They've both got to contain Franklin and funnel him inside if at all possible. This doesn't give me much solace knowing that the linebackers aren't making many plays.