Five Things | Quarterback Aside, What Needs to Happen Against SMU

USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of who will start at quarterback, the other parts of the team will need to step up their game.

Five Things

1. The Defense Must Pressure the Quarterback | You don’t hire Hal Mumme if you don’t intend to throw the football around a bit. For the 2012 season, Texas Tech only had 1 sack for every 19 opponent pass attempts and only 1 quarterback hurry for every 24 opponent pass attempts. I haven’t looked at any other team, but I know that these numbers aren’t high enough. Pressure on the quarterback forces those quarterbacks to make bad decisions. SMU and Garrett Gilbert are prone to throw interceptions, in fact they threw 15 last year, with only 16 touchdowns. There may not be a bigger key to the season for this Texas Tech team, which is to force the issue and force some bad opposing plays. We’ve talked quite a bit this offseason about how the defense hasn’t forced nearly enough turnovers over the past three years. These quarterback hurry and sack numbers have to increase for Texas Tech.

2. Receivers Must Make Plays | There is no easier way for a brand new quarterback to make an adjustment than if the receivers beat their man and make plays. That means no dropped passes and getting some serious separation off the line of scrimmage. I get the feeling that no matter who is quarterback, TE Jace Amaro is the guy that any quarterback is going to look for to make plays. He’s a huge target and it’s easy, well, it’s not easy, but it is probably easier to find a 6’5" tight end than a 5’8" receiver when a quarterback is scrambling out of the pocket because of pressure and trying to find an open man. But whether it is Amaro or anyone else, Texas Tech just cannot afford to have any dropped passes with a freshman signal caller. Make it easy on them.

3. Offensive Line Must Block Their Tails Off | This is pretty easy right and goes without saying. As much pressure as no matter who the quarterback will be, the line is going to be in a trial by fire situation and will need to be as in mid-season form by the first game. This really isn’t fair, but it’s the reality of the situation. There’s really no time for adjustment and Le’Raven Clark is going to have to figure out how to be a leader of men real fast. He’s going to have to figure out a way to make sure that whoever is at quarterback isn’t going to get hit. They’re going to have to know what the others are thinking when there is a delayed blitz. And maybe the best thing that could have happened to this group is the hiring of Co-DC’s Matt Wallerstedt and Mike Smith where they do their absolute best to confuse the offense and force match-up issues, blitz from all over the field and try to make the offenses look as bad as possible. I have a feeling that this group has had their hands full this fall camp.

4. Secondary Must Cover on an Island | I don’t know this for sure, but I have a strong feeling that no matter who is playing at cornerback, they’re going to need to be proficient at playing on an island more times than not. I’m sure there will be plenty of cover-2, but June Jones and Hal Mumme aren’t going to make it easy and Jones loves going vertical, while Mumme is a master at creating space. So the cornerbacks had better be prepared to cover on an island and tackle in open space. This team can’t afford to get down with big plays down the sideline. And as inefficient as Gilbert was last year, he does have a big arm and can beat teams with the long pass.

5. Running Backs Must Create Space | What I mean here is that if the running backs can do their thing, which is find open holes and soft spots in the flat, they should be the safety net 1B, right behind Amaro. With Kenny Williams between the tackles and DeAndre Washington on the edge and out of the backfield, this group should be a significant match-up problem for the Mustangs.

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