Iconography | Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Dan Friend-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the undefeated Texas Tech Red Raiders as they travel to Norman to play the Oklahoma Sooners.

EDITORIAL

I thought this was pretty neat. From a site called NFL Philosophy there’s this really neat discussion centered around the following quote:

"A coach is like a carpenter and the players are his tools. A master carpenter knows exactly how to make the most of any tool he has."

I don’t think that there was anything that fit what we were talking about the difference between Tuberville and Kingsbury and all of the new coaches. I don’t think I’ve really ever known how to put this into words, but I think if anyone ever asks you what the difference is between the two coaches, I think this is it:

Just as a carpenter wouldn’t use a screwdriver as a hammer, coaches shouldn’t use players in ways that don’t fit their strengths. Yet every Sunday we watch coaches misuse talent. A lot of the time we don’t even realize it. We see a player struggling and just assume it’s a lack of talent. The screwdriver is still good as a screwdriver, it just looks ineffective when used as a hammer.

Think about all of the minor position changes up and down the roster. I’m going to run some of these changes off the top of my head, but these are the position changes that I can think of:

Sadale Foster - from running back to insider receiver and running back (allowing the team to flip between 10 and 20 personnel).
Jackson Richards - from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Kerry Hyder - from just a defensive tackle to being used up and down the line of scrimmage.
Dartwan Bush - from just a defensive end to being utilized inside.
Tre Porter - from nickel cornerback to free safety.
Austin Stewart - flips between safety and outside linebacker, which could be considered a safety.

I’m sure there are more that we just don’t know about, but the idea remains. I think that Neal Brown had a pretty good idea on offense, indicative of the fact that there really aren’t any changes offensively that are being made, but defensively, this is pretty significant. I still think that Art Kaufman is a good teacher, I’m near positive of this, but maybe Kaufman’s fault as a coordinator is that he’s not able to identify where the players are able to utilize their strengths to the best of their ability. And this is actually this is something to think about as you watch teams and players, is that player a player that could be utilized in another spot or position to better take advantage of his abilities.

LINKS

These are your morning links:

  • The LAJ has a notebook about DT Kerry Hyder wanting to be even better and has sold 20,000 of the 24,000 allotted tickets for the Baylor game.
  • The LAJ has a general story about the OU coaches getting ready for the game.
  • Football Study Hall with a look at the advanced box score.
  • The FWST with an article on the players being motivated to silence their critics.
  • FSSW reporting that TE Jace Amaro isn't on the Mackey List because of the former staff. I'm blaming the stuck-in-the-mud Mackey folks for this gaffe and now they are just being obstinate.
  • SB Nation with all National Championship contenders and their odds of going undefeated.

THROW THE FLAG

I am thinking that Iowa St. was the aberration. Only 4 penalties against the Cyclones, but 7 penalties for 80 yards, including 3 huge pass interference penalties, were incredibly problematic for Texas Tech stopping West Virginia. In fact, in looking back at that game, of the 23 first downs for WVU, 4 were by penalties from Texas Tech. That’s giving life to a team that really wasn’t hitting on all cylinders on Saturday.

QUESTION FOR THE CROWD

One of the bigger discussions this week has been whether or not Jace Amaro is a tight end, which really stems from the Mackey Award folks not having Amaro on their list. It’s clear that Amaro is the best tight end in the country. I don’t think that’s really all that debatable. If Amaro is eventually included on that list, then he should win without question. My question isn’t to debate this again, but it’s to ask why is this important? It’s strange to see an athletic department wage a public relations war with the Mackey Award folks. "War" is really too harsh of a word, but you get the idea here, which is why is this so important. And many athletic departments very much promote their players when the Heisman race really heats up, but this the Texas Tech athletic department is pretty invested in his. So, here’s your chance not ask if he is a tight end, but why is it so important.

ITEM COMPLETED

The best thing that Texas Tech last week was overcome the road woes (really though, the past few years, it’s been conference woes). Beating a quality opponent with the game close. Getting a freshman quarterback in a hostile situation and having to make a play. And make a play does Webb. It’s really nice to get those sorts of wins and those wins are convincing all at the same time. That’s a nice feeling, a game where players really have to make plays, but it’s far enough away where we don’t get to complain all that much. Winning at home and winning on the road. Getting some confidence along the way feels pretty good.

CLIP THIS

I always have a tough time finding opposing quotes from coaches that are either not behind a paywall and the full quotes. So we’re going to go to Fox analyst Charles Davis who will be calling the game on Saturday.

Are you surprised Texas Tech is unbeaten?
"Yes. And a big reason why is we're still trying to wrap our heads around the idea that young quarterbacks can win big and early. I think we have more than enough evidence now that maybe we should be able to get past that thinking. But it's still one of the great stories. We're talking about two freshmen quarterbacks, one who went through spring ball, Davis Webb, who came in early; Baker Mayfield did not. Look at the production; look at what they've done and they continue to get better each time they go out. Now, they're hitting the meat-grinder of their schedule."

And on the what he expects from OU:

Are you expecting an improved performance from OU on Saturday?
"I would be shocked if they don't play a lot better in this game than in the last two. I think Oklahoma has to play with a little bit of an attitude. ‘We're using to being physical. We're used to going ahead and coming off the ball and smacking somebody.' I think that's what they have to do in this game. It's got to be a real physical, get to the ball, a lot of crimson shirts on every tackle, that kind of game. We've seen a lot of one guy tackling in the open field."

There’s more there, so check out the whole thing.

PHOTO FINISH

That’s Webb’s window to Amaro for the game clinching touchdown. That’s it. Amaro is actually covered about as well as he can be. Webb is just now releasing this photo in this screen shot. Just look at this for a second and think that this is the player that Webb decided to go to and this is the play that won the game. There’s must not much space there.

IT’S TIME

ESPN’s Jake Trotter has an excellent look back at HC Kliff Kingsbury’s hire and Tuberville gracing Texas Tech fans with his exit. It’s very much worth your time and I wanted to highlight it separately from the links. But I wanted to focus on another ESPN article that maybe didn’t get as much press, which is what the recruits, the life-blood of the program, think about the program, from ESPN’s Damon Sayles. The fact that teh recruits are saying things like this are incredibly important to this program:

"They all seem like the guys you want to hang out with," Mahomes said. "They're still coaches and they'll get on to you, but they're not there to put you down. Plus, they all went to Texas Tech. You know this is where they want to be, and they are wanting to stay.

"It's not like other places where some coaches you know want to come and go. They were saying how they were talking about coming back when they were our ages. It's good to know you have coaches like that."

There are few programs that get to sell this. Texas Tech and Northwestern.

CHARTING MATCHUPS

I’m not sure what to make of OU. I think I write that sentence each week. I think that OU should be a pound-it-out rush offense that can churn yards behind Blake Bell, but they really haven’t been that. I don’t think it’s for a lack of talent, just lack of identity. As an aside, I’ve asked the OU guys about an identity and those answers should be posted

I do think that the Oklahoma running game is actually really good and the running backs are just as good as they have been. Maybe this goes to the editorial portion of what I wrote about, which is that maybe the Sooners have all of the right tools, they’re just not using them in the right way. What do I know though. Brennan Clay and Damien Williams carry the biggest part of the load and I was surprised to read that Bell only has 28 yards game rushing. I never would have imagined that.

I don’t know that there is a dominating receiver, the best receiver is averaging just 49 yards a game, Sterling Shepherd. Jalen Saunders is averaging 39 yards a game. Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills seem like a distant memory. Saunders actually averaged 92 yards a game last year. He’s capable, he’s just not getting the ball.

Oklahoma does have a fantastic pass defense but haven’t really played a lot of passing teams, so that’s something to consider. Kansas passed for some ridiculously low number last week that’s going throw off the average. Not saying it doesn’t count, but it sure can skew the numbers a bit. This isn’t to say that OU doesn’t have plenty of talent in the defensive backfield. The pass rush is something that concerns me that goes into the passing game. I actually think that OU is going to load up to stop Texas Tech from running even a little.

What are the matchups that Texas Tech could and should take advantage of? Much has been made of the depleted defensive line and the game is going to come down to how Texas Tech is able to run the ball, but that doesn’t seem right. That’s not playing to Texas Tech’s strength, which is to run the opposite of what defense is doing. Texas Tech isn’t going to run the ball just to run the ball, that’s not what the Red Raiders do. On defense, I think that Texas Tech is going to have to mask some of the pass defense issues and there will be a quick hook for Falemi if he has issues. OU would do well to test the secondary deep and see if they can cover. I think WVU was on to something. If Gaines is back healthy, this will help quite a bit. I don’t think that Texas Tech simply stops OU running the ball, but I do like Texas Tech’s ability to play gap control football and be where they need to be to minimize the damage.

5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 5
TTU Pass Offense vs. OU Pass Defense

TTU Rush Offense vs. OU Rush Defense

TTU Pass Defense vs. OU Pass Offense

TTU Rush Defense vs. OU Rush Offense

TTU Special Teams vs. OU Special Teams

TTU Coaching vs. OU Coaching

DIAL IT UP

This was the run before a Kenny Williams touchdown run and DeAndre Washington gets the rock here. Everything is pretty normal here, but the one thing that I wanted to point out was LG Alfredo Morales is doing to be pulling on this play. If you want to know why Alfredo replaced Carpenter at guard is that he's more mobile than Carpenter or James Polk. They're not statues, but they're more road graders than players that go get into space. This definitely adds a dimension to the running game.

We're talked before about how Texas Tech likes to run a bunch of zone blocking and this is a pure man blocking scheme. Again, the reason why Le'Raven Clark is one of the best is that he sets his man incredibly quickly. Clark's back is to the play, which means that his man has almost no chance of making a play.

By this shot, Alredo has engaged the defensive end and that guy isn't going to make the play. Also notice on the second level where TE Jace Amaro is getting to his man and WR Bradley Marquez is about to make a play. WVU has a safety that should be able to make a play here.

This shot is a bit deceiving in that it looks like Amaro and Marquez shook off their defenders, but this is why having speed to the corner of the sideline is incredibly important. Right now Washington is 10 yards away from getting that important first down and it looks bleak.

Just one second later and three yards later, Washington is going to head to the edge and he's going to beat whoever is left standing for WVU. Washington doesn't score here, but he gets down to the two or three. Speed to the edge is so incredibly important on this game and it makes the skill set of Washington valuable, just as much as Kenny Williams skill set of running between the hashes important.

TARGET PRACTICE

I’ve gone back and forth with mojavereject about the situation with WR Eric Ward and there really is something wrong here. I keep telling myself that it’s not a problem and something that happened a couple of games ago, was that Eric Ward didn’t start. I think it was the Kansas game and I initially thought it was maybe an injury. After the game, Sonny Cumbie was asked why he didn’t start and it was "coach’s decision". That’s not the Eric Ward I think I know and that bothers me. I do think that Ward wants the ball more and I think he needs the ball in his hands more, but Amaro is such a huge security blanket. It’s so much easier to hit a tight end that’s 6-5 over the middle rather than a receiver that is on the edge. Part of me thinks that the quarterbacks need to trust Ward a bit here, and it’s not like Ward is being ignored as he has 37 catches and 435 yards. Still, I think Ward thinks he’s capable of more and if they’ll just give him the chance that they’re giving Amaro, they’d get similar results. I’m not totally sure that this is accurate, I’m speculating a lot here. I really want this to be one big happy family, but this has been bothering me since Ward didn’t start.

UNSUNG STAR

I’m a bit gun-shy here as last week I named Olaoluwa Falemi as the newcomer of the half-year and couldn’t have been more wrong with this after last week’s 3 pass interference penalties, so I’ll focus on IR Jordan Davis, who stepped up in the absence of Jakeem Grant and Sadale Foster. Davis didn’t have a catch since the Texas St. game and that was only 1 catch for 6 yards. Last week, Davis caught maybe the most important pass from Davis Webb to set up the Amaro touchdown. Next man up.

LIGHTNING STRIKES

I really wish I had done a better job of keeping track of this both for passing and rushing, but I really just did this on a whim for the passing explosive plays. I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t track this better. I did go back and and look at the numbers that I’ve done on Iconography and this is what I’ve pulled together from Week 5 through Week 8 for the passing:

Week 5: 25 of 15+ and 11 of 25+
Week 6: 43 of 15+ and 18 of 25+
Week 7: 53 of 15+ and 21 of 25+
Week 8: 64 of 15+ and 27 of 25+

Just taking the current 15+ yard passing plays, Texas Tech is averaging almost 2 more 15+ passing plays a game, 9.1 in 2013 to 7.3 in 2013 (It is week 8, but only 7 games). That’s pretty significant and I think this will stand up for the most part, but we’re about to see.

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

I decided that looking at the losses of teams are often more telling than wins, so I looked at Oklahoma's only loss to Texas and I used the same things that Matt Hinton looks at for games. I enjoyed writing it last week, so here we are. I didn't really get to watch a ton of that game, and I was curious as to what I could tell from the numbers. Let’s do this:

  1. Total Offense: OU 263, UT 445 | This was pretty much it. Or maybe a lot of it. Texas was just able to run the ball and if the football adage is true, each 100 yards is a touchdown and UT was able to rack up 36 points. Oklahoma could only get 20. This total offense makes sense and in looking at this, I’m pretty much resigned to thinking that if Texas Tech can hold up those 227 yards a game rushing, this is going to get a bit easier. Easier said than done, but I think this is where it starts.
  2. Yards for Points: OU 140, UT 288 | Yeesh. OU wasn’t able to put any sort of a semblance of a drive together. The Sooners scored 20 points, and 14 of them were off of special teams or defensive plays, which means that the Sooners really offensively. OU only had 3 drives that were more than 55 yards. So just nothing sustained. Texas Tech has excelled at defensive third downs, 10th in the nation. This trend has to continue on Saturday.
  3. Swing Points (+): OU 14, UT 14 | The offenses really were pretty awful. Both teams benefited from special teams plays and defensive touchdowns. The Sooners were gifted the ball on the 27 Texas yard line and scored a touchdown and a 54 yard interception. The definition of a swing point + is within the 25 yard line, but the 27 is close enough. The Longhorns also benefited from 2 interceptions for a touchdown. If the Sooners get easy swing points, then it’s really tough for teams to overcome, including Texas Tech. Texas Tech has been able to overcome a lot of this over the past two weeks, but I have a feeling that if it happens in Norman, it’s a different story.
  4. Turnovers: OU 2, UT 2 | Texas Tech is tied for 98th in the nation in turnover margin and it still hasn’t hurt Texas Tech. One day, this is going to catch up with Texas Tech and it seems like when they plug one hole, another one appears. Running backs having trouble fumbling the ball? Problem solved, it’s been a while since they have have dropped the ball on the carpet. Interceptions a problem? Only 2 in the last three games. Problem solved. Problems with special teams turnovers? Well. We’re hopefully working on that.
  5. Wasted Yards: OU 145, UT 188 | OU actually forced quite a few wasted yards, but this really worked to OU’s disadvantage. Texas had a 10 minute advantage in time of possession and it created real issues for OU to mount much of anything resembling a comeback. Texas Tech isn’t going to do that as they currently sit 100th in the nation in time of possession. Texas Tech distances itself by more and more opportunities. Of those opportunities, Texas Tech is going to have to continue to get plays and grind those yards.

FINDING YOUR WAY

Another game where it seems that Texas Tech escaped in a sense.  Losing the turnover battle was problematic and losing those opportunities for swing points is also problematic. But goodness, just about everything else was dominating, at least offensively for Texas Tech.  A limited number of wasted yards, almost 80 of them were from Webb's fumble on the 1 yard line.  Think if Texas Tech has converted that.  Texas Tech has to take care of the ball on Saturday. I'm sure I've written that somewhere else here, but it's incredibly important to not gift OU any opportunities.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Not that you needed a reason to love Bill Murray.

INJURY REPORT

Fall Practice: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year.

Week 1 vs. SMU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - day to day; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - day to day.

Week 2 vs. SFA: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - out for game; OLB Andre Ross (leg?) - day to day.

Week 3 vs. TCU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - out for game; OLB Andre Ross (leg?) - out for game.

Week 4 vs. TXST: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game.

Week 5 vs. BYE:

Week 6 vs. KU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; OG Alfredo Morales (knee/ankle) - out for game.

Week 7 vs. ISU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; OG Alfredo Morales (knee/ankle) - out for game; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out during game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out during game.

Week 8 vs. WVU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Jakeem Grant (head) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; IR Sadale Foster (hip) - out for game.

ACTION

#goosebumps

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