The offseason is filled with questions, especially this year. Rather than ask those questions and not offer any solutions, I thought it would be interesting to offer theorems, i.e. all right angles are congruent, and you tell me if you think they're true or not. Here are your previous Texas Tech Football Offseason Theorems:
The idea for this is the result of a post that I can no longer find on Blogging the Boys, SBN's Dallas Cowboys blog, which discussed the production ratio for a defensive lineman in a manner that was easy for me to reproduce (i.e. incredibly simple math). Here's the formula:
Production Ratio = (Sacks + TFL) /Games
I wanted to try to give you some perspective so here's a list of players, ranked by the NCAA in terms of sacks per game and included players at the top of the heap, in the middle and at the end of the NCAA rankings for sacks.
|Whitney Mercilus (Illinois #1)||16||22.5||13||2.96|
|Jarvis Jones (Georgia #5)||13.5||19.5||14||2.36|
|Sammy Brown (Houston #5)||13.5||30||14||3.11|
|Barkevious Mingo (LSU #50)||8||15||14||1.64|
|Andre Monroe (Maryland #51)||5||10||9||1.67|
|Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma #52)||5.5||13||10||1.85|
|Brad Ohrman (Eastern Michigan #92)||5.5||11||12||1.38|
|Brandon Mills (Cincinnati, #92)||5.5||9||12||1.21|
|Jacquies Smith (Missouri #100)||5||11||11||1.45|
So what the elite pass rushers of college football are able to do are make an impact, whether it be a sack or TFL, at least once per game and the best ones average one big play per game. The players in the 50 range are under that goal of 1 play per game, while the players at the bottom 100 average a big play every two games.
And now let's take a look at the production for the top defenders for Texas Tech along the defensive line:
So what we can tell is that DE Scott Smith was the real deal and had he had more time to play, then he probably would have had a higher production rate, but he also was pretty darned close to a top 50 player, but probably needed an additional game to be counted.
With Smith graduating, he's unfortunately the least of my concerns as it appears that the rest of the players mustered almost no big plays on a consistent basis. Last year's big JUCO player was DE Leon Mackey, and although he was very much slowed during the year with a punctured lung, he made almost no big plays. And if you would have asked me who was the behind Smith in terms of making plays, I don't know that there was really anyone else on the line that I really remembered being a difference maker and that's a huge part of the problem. Dartwan Bush was good in spots, but not nearly enough*.
There's no doubt in my mind that some of this was coaching and some of this was youth. Of those players listed, just about every one of those players were first year players along the defensive line, and part of the reason why there was so much inexperience is because players like Pearlie Graves, Lawrence Rumph and Myles Wade all left the program. That would have bolstered an inexperienced defensive line.
But these players must have better production. That's really the bottom line because last year's results are pitiful. And I can't say for sure if it was coaching, or the players not being properly aligned, or miscommunication, or lack of talent. It really don't matter. The only thing that does matter is that this group has to be better and they have to produce. And this isn't about early season results where a player makes a difference early in the season. This has to be over the entire course of the season and especially during conference play.
I'm feeling more confident, although I have no reason to do so other than I'm a hopeful fan, that the defense will improve next year, but I don't know how much of an improvement is realistic, especially when you look back at the relatively awful production of the defense. The improvement might be a result of better technique and a better overall scheme. I'd also add that you would hope that the players themselves, with an additional year, would be better. Players like Branden Jackson, Barr, Richards, Bush and Evans. Keep in mind that the reason why Jackson wasn't included in the table above was because he didn't record a tackle for loss last year, which means that in addition to potentially being a starter next year, he'll need to make a significant impact alongside Bush and Richards on the other side. This group was young and if Pete Robertson can make the impact that the coaching staff thinks he can make as a pure pass-rusher, then maybe that gives you an additional foothold for hope for the upcoming season.
So the question for you is who do you think makes the biggest impact next year and who do you think makes the most improvement?
Coming up next week, a look at which teams in the Big 12 made the most big plays on defense.