ATTACKING THE SOONER OFFENSE
If you would have asked me how to attack Oklahoma before the year started, I would have almost said that you have to mimic what happened last year in that QB Seth Doege has to be perfect and the defense had to be opportunistic.
Everything that I’m about to write, I’m writing with a grain of salt in that I know that the Texas Tech defense isn’t what it really is. It will not be the #1 defense at the end of the year. I know all of that. I know that the likelihood that Texas Tech’s defense will hold up against what is most likely a really ticked off Sooner team is also unlikely, but I think the key this week to attacking will be to attack the lines.
Maybe this isn’t so much of an attack, but rather Texas Tech needs to do what they have been doing this year. That is play it safe, rush four players, get pressure on Jones doing what they did to get pressure on a more mobile Steele Jantz and stay in their lanes. It’s an incredibly simple thought, but it’s one that seems really logical.
I was really surprised at OU’s rushing statistics and the sacks that they gave up this year. I found it odd that Oklahoma would get away from what they were doing very well, rushing the ball, to then only give it up a bit, or just not be as effective against Kansas St. I should note that my characterization of Oklahoma only running for 88 yards really wasn’t entirely accurate as QB Landry Jones lost 21 yards on sacks. Truthfully, OU’s running backs, Dominique Whaley, Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch, ran for 111 yards on 22 carries and averaged over 5 yards per attempt. I don’t think that Kansas St. is running anything exotic, in fact this may be the first time in the history of ever that the words "exotic" and K-State have ever been written in the same sentence, but they were aggressive and they won the one-on-one battles and they forced Jones to make mistakes, or maybe they just waited for Jones to make mistakes.
It’s cliche to declare that the lines win the battle and I try to stay away from things like that as a general rule, but I do believe this to be the case in this particular game and I further believe that Texas Tech’s ability to continue to rotate a solid core of defensive line players that are able to produce pressure without much help, will be the key to the game. Getting to Jones and pressuring him did wonders for K-State and I’d imagine that OU will adjust in some form or fashion, maybe leaving in a tight end to block or something like that, but pressure is vital to winning the game on Saturday.
ATTACKING THE SOONER DEFENSE
So you go after the defensive line, right? The defensive line has struggled a bit, including giving up 4.55 yards per rush. For comparison purposes, and this could get better over the course of the year, OU allowed 3.68 yards per rush in 2011, 4.14 in 2010 and 2.89 in 2009. So thus far, this is the one spot where it appears that OU is not what we have thought the Sooners are supposed to be. And I’d also add that this is a small sample size, but OU allows 3.94 yards per rush at home and 5.75 on the road (the only road game being UTEP). They just haven’t been as sharp as they have been in previous years.
I think that Texas Tech still has issues along the offensive line. I don’t think that they are absolutely playing to their potential each week, but I think they are solid. Much like QB Seth Doege seeing his first bit of real pressure against Iowa St., he struggled to compose himself, but Doege eventually did that and put together a very good second half. The same thing applies to the offensive line. I think that LT LaAdrian Waddle and RT Terry McDaniel were a bit surprised about the speed of the game or the speed of Iowa St. and you could say that the first quarter was pretty bad for the line too. But the line and the players made adjustments and they did a much better job of protecting Doege and opening up holes for Williams in the second half. In-game adjustments are maybe one of the more underrated things about playing football and how well a coach is able to adjust during a game is incredibly important. Chris Thomsen earned his paycheck on Saturday night because he either motivated those players or made some subtle changes including emphasizing the run I think, where the team looked a better man-on-man rather than trying to take on some of the Iowa St. edge rushers.
I still think the team will be pretty well balanced, because I think they play better that way. I mentioned last week that I thought that the team wouldn’t play a lot of 22 personnel (I found it somewhat humorous that the LAJ ran with an article to talk to OC Neal Brown about it after the fact, but it feel pretty good to have predicted it before the game), but I think you’ll see more two back sets initially just to see if Texas Tech can actually run on Oklahoma and to see if there are some play action possibilities that can loosen up the OU line. If it’s not there, they’ll still keep to a somewhat standard game plan, but I think this is a pretty good little plan.