Iconography | Oklahoma St. Cowboys vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma St. Cowboys travel to Lubbock for a night game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Viva The Matadors has the best preview on the internets.

EDITORIAL

Losses are certainly more interesting, there’s no doubt about that. With losses, there is a lot more to critique and think about. I didn’t get around to quick-hits in the Post Game Thoughts post, so here goes.

  • I loved seeing Eric Ward get back on track and those double-moves were really terrific. For a defense that sits on him because they think they can cover him, this is really a perfect adjustment.
  • Le’Raven Clark really struggled with some speed on the edge with that Oklahoma outside linebacker that was so danged quick. Not struggled to the point where Webb was sacked, but where Webb was pressured more than he wanted. It was definitely troublesome. Clark can handle it, but he seemed really uneasy trying to keep him off the edge. As athletic as Clark is, I think a really fast OLB is Clark’s biggest weakness.
  • The running backs averaged 5.1 yards a carry, quite a bit different than the 2.9 yards that the box score shows. Overall, the group ran for 102 yards on 20 carries and had 19 yards on just 4 catches. That was probably the one thing that I think I would have liked to see, which was more of the screen game to take advantage of a Oklahoma rush that was very aggressive. It would help if Webb would not let some of those passes get batted down.
  • I think this makes me a bad fan, or maybe a fan that just gets caught up in the actual game and not who is playing where, but I really had no idea that Terrance Bullitt was injured, although I remember seeing Micah Awe’s name pop up quite a bit. Awe was subbing in for Bullitt and with Austin Stewart at strong safety, someone had to fill in for Bullitt. Awe had a pretty nice game, finishing with 9 tackles.
  • Texas Tech gained 11 turnovers all of last year and they have 13 this year, although this stat is a bit static recently. The biggest problem last year was the fact and one of the biggest reasons for the fade last year (i.e. losing games) was that this team was a -9 over the last 4 games in turnover margin. Texas Tech just couldn’t hold onto the ball and couldn’t force opponents to do the same thing. If Texas Tech can avoid the same trap, then I think things turn out much differently, but if the current trend continues, which is -6 over the last 3 games, then it won’t be pretty. This has to be tightened up.

THROW THE FLAG

Only 3 penalties for the game, but gosh they were costly. I’ve already discussed these 3 penalties in the Post Game Thoughts post, so I won’t go into much detail here. Even with just 3 penalties, this team is still 118th in penalty yards per game. If you take penalties per game, Texas Tech is 114th. Maybe the new statistic should be penalties per play or something like that. With offenses being so fast, there are obviously more opportunities for penalties with Texas Tech so maybe these penalties aren’t that big of a deal, but averaging 71 yards a game lost on penalty yards alone seems like a lot.

QUESTION FOR THE CROWD

So much is focused on the issues with the quarterback, which I think are relatively minimal in the grand scheme of things, and I want to have a non-quarterback discussion. Pick one thing on offense and one thing on defense that you think either needs to be corrected after watching the Oklahoma game or needs to be improved upon in facing Oklahoma St. After thinking about the running game, I think I would have liked to have seen more touches for the running backs. Again, there’s not a lot to do for a defense that’s going to pressure off the edge other than to make those edge players honor a running back coming out of the backfield. Defensively, I think the line just has to be better and beat their man and shed a block. There were so many times against Oklahoma where I thought that the defenders were in the right spot and then the OU running back would just slip right into the gap and run for 10 yards. That was infuriating. Those are my two items, let’s hear from you.

ITEM COMPLETED

I usually do this "Item Completed" for the previous game, but this time, I think it’s good to take a look at the rushing numbers for Oklahoma St. and I think most Texas Tech fans are concerned about what the Cowboys can do rushing the ball. At first glance, Oklahoma St. is the 5th best rushing team in the Big 12 and 66th best in the nation, good for 165 yards a game. But truthfully, there are really two outliers that somewhat skew those statistics, one of those being last week against Iowa St. where James Roland rushed his way to the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and helped rack up 342 yards rushing on 47 carries. Those 47 carries were a season high for the team and sometimes go as low as 25 carries a game. There has been some shuffling at running back, with Jeremy Smith getting a bulk of the carries early and Roland getting those carries lately. Those two games where Oklahoma St. just ran it over and over was Mississippi St., where the Cowboys rushed for 286 yards and the ISU game. Other than that, Oklahoma St. has rushed for 87, 155, 11, 85 and 95 in between those two games. We’re about to find out what Oklahoma St. actually is, a team that runs the ball really well or a team that’s relied on a running game in the absence of real consistent quarterback play.

CLIP THIS

The Oklahoma St. folks do a good job of being able to easily find the quotes from the weekly press conference, so that's terrific. Here is Gundy on Kingsbury:

"He’s done very well this year as a first-year head coach. His team has played well, in my opinion. They play with energy. I haven’t studied the other side of the ball like I have the defense, and they’re sound in my opinion. He’s young and has a lot of enthusiasm. I’m sure he has love for his university so it seems to be a great hire by Tech. I know the little bit I’ve been able to watch them on television; it looks like he is enjoying being a head coach. Obviously, that’s the most important part of what we do, in my opinion."

And Gundy comments on playing on a passing team:

"I hope our defense will continue to play well. I think it’s evident that this is the best offensive football team that we have played up to this point. They have had a considerable amount of success moving the football and scoring points. It will be a good challenge for our players. There’s no question about that."

And here's Gundy on knowing that OSU needs to be better passing the ball:

"We need to throw the football better, period. If you look at the opponent we’re playing this week, they’re scoring and they’ve been effective in throwing the football. There’s three phases in a game. We all know that. At some point, you have to match them where their strength is. They have certainly had the ability to score points, but, defensively, they have been effective also. We need to become a better passing team to give ourselves a better chance to win this weekend."

PHOTO FINISH

I wanted to demonstrate how quickly Le'Raven Clark struggled with the speed rush and how it can cause problems. It didn't cause problems on this particular play, but you can see how it can be problematic. Quite frankly, Clark is going to have to be better. Oklahoma does present some problems initially as they really aren't showing who is going to rush.

As you can see, it's a 4 man rush and it doesn't take long for Erik Striker to get around the edge. Want to know how big Striker is listed? He's listed at 6'0" and 212 pounds, which is the size of someone like Sam Eguavoen or Micah Awe taking on and getting around the left tackle. I know that Texas Tech uses a guy like Pete Robertson in the same way, but Striker is even smaller than Robertson, which I find amazing. Also makes you think that if a defense is going to play this way, then you can take advantage of some running lanes. Maybe something to watch against Oklahoma St. In any event, Striker is already 5 yards up the field and the ball has just been snapped.

As you can see here, Clark has already pretty much lost Striker and Striker has the advantage. Considering Striker's speed, this might not be the easiest to implement for a lot of teams, but on some level it is really easy to implement and take Clark out of the game.

This pass was actually a completion. A highlight on the first half film, but Striker comes dangerously close to knocking the ball out of Webb's hand and Webb isn't really even aware or have the presence that there's a really good chance that the ball could be knocked away.

CHARTING MATCHUPS

Defensively, I'm pretty nervous about what Oklahoma St. does defensively. The numbers really are fantastic, but much like Texas Tech, the Cowboys haven't really played truly offensive teams. That's going to change very soon. Very soon for the top-heavy Big 12, but they numbers are all we really have right now and even though Texas Tech has played one of those teams, the numbers are skewed a bit. In any event, Oklahoma St. has done a terrific job this year of intercepting the ball and they have 13 of those already on the year and for comparison purposes, Texas Tech only has 5 on the year and haven't had an interception since Kansas.

Justin Gilbert is that interception leader with 4 and Daytawion Lowe has 2 on the year. The cornerbacks, Gilbert and Kansas transfer Kevin Peterson, are actually bigger cornerbacks that are probably going to have an easier time matching up with Texas Tech receivers Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez. Should be a fascinating chess match.

The defensive line is terrific, or at least the inside is really good and the linebacking corps is solid, especially against the run. OSU is only allowing 122 yards a game, which is good for 19th in the nation. Castleman and Barrett really control the middle, which lets guys like Caleb Lavey and Tyler Johnson make significant plays behind the line of scrimmage.

I'm really not sure what to think about the offense. I mentioned that OSU had two games where they just went crazy rushing the ball, averaging 300 yards a game and they are bookends to their current season, Mississippi St. and Iowa St. Now, the question is what are they really going to be. The offensive line is littered with juniors and seniors and they have been solid, but maybe they haven't been as good as previous years.

I think I still like J.W. Walsh a bit better as a quarterback, but heading into the year, Clint Chelf was statistically better, but now he is only completing about 40% of his passes and his passer rating isn't all that great, in fact, is actually pretty pathetic in his last two games, 90 and 86 quarterback ratings. But they have won both of those games, TCU and Iowa St., so maybe this isn't a big deal at all. Walsh was really good against Kansas St. and then he was just okay against TCU, but he was better than Chelf, or at least as good, and then he didn't get any time at all.

I'm not sure, but this may be the first week that I've given the coaching advantage to Kingsbury. I'm not a huge fan of Gundy and there is some sort of disconnect with what Gundy is doing with his program, or at least there seems to be a disconnect from my view point. Something just isn't right, and this really has nothing to do with the SI stuff or any of that. The way that the prior defensive coordinator was fired left a bad taste in my mouth and now the offense really isn't plodding along like it had during the Holgorsen and Todd Monken. The offense is the same, but it's not. I haven't delved far enough into the offense to know, but something is off.

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

TTU Rush Offense vs. OSU Rush Defense

TTU Pass Defense vs. OSU Pass Offense

TTU Rush Defense vs. OSU Rush Offense

TTU Special Teams vs. OSU Special Teams

TTU Coaching vs. OSU Coaching

DIAL IT UP

The play that I'm about to show you wasn't the norm on Saturday afternoon. Texas Tech did a good job on this play. The easy part here is that this is an empty backfield, so maybe that helped as normally, Oklahoma was in 20 or 21 personnel. Oklahoma runs with a tight end, while Oklahoma will run with more guys in the backfield with misdirection. It's imperative that Texas Tech stay at home, much like this game.

The OU offensive line is blocking down, while the left guard and left tackle are pulling down to the right side of the line and that's the direction of the play.

You can see the hole starting form and that's where Blake Bell is headed, but the Texas Tech linebackers are free. Again, this is somewhat of a lesson in that the line has to either occupy multiple linemen so that the linebackers can make plays. That's what's about to happen here.

The linebackers have stepped up into the hole and was able to make a play on Bell for a loss. On the highlight film for the first half, this was one of two defensive highlights on the film. That's not good.

UNSUNG STAR

LB Micah Awe filling in for an injured LB Terrance Bullitt, and he ended up with 9 tackles for the game. Awe will play significant time next year and I think he's going to be good no matter where he plays. Versatile players are really nice to have.

LIGHTNING STRIKES

We're really starting to develop some statistics here as Texas Tech is getting really close to what they did last year. Last year, for the year, Texas Tech had 96 plays of 15+ yards and 29 plays of 25+ yards and now, with four games to play, Texas Tech is about to bust that up. Texas Tech is averaging about 10 plays of 15+ yards or more each game and a few of 25+ each game. And as you can see, Texas Tech has already matched last year's totals of 25+ yards. This is, without a doubt, a more vertical offense and Texas Tech is doing that with two freshman quarterbacks. That's a credit to them and to Kingsbury. It sure does help to have a healthy Amaro.

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+
Week 9: 74 15+ and 29 of 25+

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

Let's do this.

  1. Control Barnett and Castleman | I have a ton of respect for the guys inside for Oklahoma St., Calvin Barnett and James Castleman. The interior players for Texas Tech are really going to be tested and I think that the game will be won or lost on whether or not Texas Tech will be able to control the interior of the line with little help. C Jared Kaster, LG Alfredo Morales and RG Beau Carpenter are about to have their hands full and they really need to be dominant, or not let Castleman and Barnett be dominant this game. Castleman and Barnett need to be negated as much as humanly possible.
  2. Win the Turnover Battle | Guess what. Oklahoma St. lost the one game where they lost the turnover battle, which means that the offense has to hold onto the ball and sure could use some take always. Texas Tech just hasn't been good in this category thus far this year, not matter who is at quarterback.
  3. Reign in Roland and Smith | OSU RB Desmond Roland was terrific last week, but I'm still thinking that Jeremy Smith gets carries too. No matter who it is, Texas Tech has to keep them in check. Oklahoma rushed for over 270 yards last week and that's just not something that Texas Tech can allow. If this does happen, then it's going to be a long game. I talked about a disconnect with the offense and Texas Tech could do a lot to make sure that this continues.
  4. Contain Stewart and Moore | We haven't even talked about two of the most explosive players for Oklahoma St., Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore. They aren't getting the touches that they maybe did last year, but they are really explosive players that can absolutely punish you. This is the thing that maybe bothers me the most, is that I really almost gave no attention to the Oklahoma receivers last week as well as Bell as a thrower and they just burned the Texas Tech pass defense. I think I'm ready for this group, the pass defense, to be as sound as possible.
  5. No Scrambles | It was only a few highlights, but Chelf and Walsh are both capable of tucking the ball and running and not looking like Webb. They are both more athletic and with the zone read being a big player, Pete Robertson and Branden Jackson and Terrance Bullitt and anyone else really has to set the edge. Don't get sucked into the play. String it out.

TARGET PRACTICE

I don't think that Texas Tech can really afford the big passing play, and I don't know what the options really are other than to dance with the ones that brought you. The week before, it was Ola Falemi getting burned, last week, it was Bruce Jones giving up a huge touchdown. This is the game within a game aspect, which is that Texas Tech has to give some safety help and the safety help has to be there, or these guys are going to be on islands. If it's a cover-2 scenario, then the safeties won't help all that much in run support. I'm not sure what I would do, but I'm nervous about the cornerbacks being consistent enough all game long. Of course, the other side of it is that with cornerbacks, it's just one play that can be devastating and sometimes those opportunities can be one time opportunities where the ball slips off the receiver's hands. A defensive lineman or linebacker can miss a tackle, but it doesn't look at flagrant because there's really only one guy to blame in that situation.

FINDING YOUR WAY

A lot of good things for OU here and bad things for Texas Tech.  OU had very few wasted drives and/or yards and that's pretty impressive.  Just 62 for the game is pretty remarkable, which means that the drives that they did have were way too long and they scored.  On the other side of things, Texas Tech had over 200 yards of wasted offense.  Again, that's really unacceptable to not score with so many yards.  That, along with the turnovers, was the biggest difference in the game.  I love looking at this stuff.

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.

Week 9 vs. OU: 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 year; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; OLB Terrance Bullitt (undisclosed injury) - out for part of game.

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