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Anatomy of Texas Tech's 4th Downs Against Missouri

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at each the 4th down plays from Saturday's game, but in particular, what will we be able to expect from other teams now that they have on film possibly a method for defending the 4th down. First, some numbers to consider: there were 3 complete passes, 3 incomplete passes, 1 penalty, 1 punt, 1 sack, 1 missed field goal and 1 made field goal. Let's get into the plays:

1st Quarter - 4th and 2 yards from the Missouri 39: Graham Harrell pass incomplete to Danny Amendola.

Missouri blitzed, bringing 5 defenders (this will be the standard fare for Missouri through much of the afternoon on 4th down). Actually, I believe 6 defenders were at the line of scrimmage as 1 defender was shadowing Woods. Harrell had plenty of time to throw the ball and although the pass looked like it was intended for Amendola, Morris and Lewis were all within 5 yards of Amendola. It looked really crowded and seemed like there wasn't much of a chance for the pass to be completed as there were a ton of black shirts surrounding those three receivers.

2nd Quarter - 4th and 8 yards from the Missouri 31: Alex Trlica misses a 49 yard field goal.

This is the logical decision here as 8 yards seems too far for a true 4th down attempt. Besides, it is on 10-0 in favor of Missouri and going for it seemed like a little much for the offense to handle. I'm conservative by nature so this call doesn't bother me in the least.

2nd Quarter - 4th and 4 yards from the Missouri 37: Graham Harrell sacked for a loss of 8 yards by Loren Williams.

Missouri rushed 5 again and Woods had an opportunity to chip on a defender coming from the inside, but started looking towards the tackle. Stephen Hamby was the lineman who gave up the sack, but as I said above, it looked like Woods had an opportunity to get to help, but didn't. On the 3rd down prior to this 4th down, Crabtree missed a pass that he normally would have caught for a 1st down.

2nd Quarter - 4th and 10 yards from the Missouri 28: Alex Trlica makes a 45 yard field goal attempt.

Trlica was closer on this 4th down than any other 4th down and was actually inside the 30. Personally, I think this one is a pretty clear decision in going for the field goal and I don't think Leach hesitated here. The distance on this 4th down made it too difficult to even consider going for it on 4th down. This was probably the easiest decision for Leach.

We've also got a small trend. Leach went for the field goal when it was 4th down and 8 (see the 2nd 4th down where Trlica missed) here with 10 yards to go. So considering this small sample size, perhaps Leach's threshold is somewhere around 4 to 5 yards on 4th down, but any amount over that and if Texas Tech is close to the 30, then there's a pretty good chance that Leach is going to go for the field goal.

3rd Quarter - 4th and yards 4 from the Missouri 34: False start, 5 yard penalty. As a result of the penalty it is now 4th and 9 yards from the Missouri 39: Graham Harrell has an incomplete pass.

Shawn Byrnes had the penalty here, a false start which pushed Texas Tech back to Missouri's 39. At the 34, there was an opportunity for a field goal, but at this point (17-10) the game was still in reach. A field goal still means that Texas Tech has to score twice.

Now it's 4th and 9 and Missouri rushes 5, but in particular, Missouri sends two defenders on either side of the Byrnes, the center. Byrnes safely handles one, and Woods attempts to handle the other. Harrell feels the pressure and throws to his right where the ball is batted down by a defensive lineman (I can't recall who it was).

3rd Quarter - 4th and 2 yards from the Missouri 36: Graham Harrell completes a pass to Eric Morris for 7 yards, first down.

On the 3rd down play prior to this 4th down play, Britton, just completely whiffs on a sure-catch. There should have been a 1st down on that 3rd down play. Morris caught a nice pass on the sideline, with no issue. The line gave him lots of time and although I just took notes, I cannot recall if Missouri rushed 4 or 5 (I believe it was 5). A really nice play for a nice completion.

Same drive, 4th and 4 yards from the Missouri 23: Graham Harrell has an incomplete pass to Michael Crabtree.

On the 3rd down prior to this play, Crabtree misses/drops a pass that he should have had. Now, it's 4th down and once again, the ball is slightly deflected, but hits Crabtree right in the hands. Missouri brought 5 and the nose tackle that dropped into coverage actually got the slight deflection. Crabtree started wide, by was heading inside when he dropped the pass. There was a defender on his back (making a good play) making life difficult for Crabtree, but there's no excuse why Crabtree shouldn't have had this ball.

4th Quarter - 4th and 4 yards from the Texas Tech 32: Graham Harrell completes a 13 yard pass to Danny Amendola. Same drive, 4th and 43 yards from the Texas Tech 12, Jonathan LaCour punts 35 yards.

The game is clearly out of hand at this point so there's no reason for Missouri to rush 5, and they don't. Harrell feels a little bit of pressure, rolls to his right and finds Amendola over and between 3 defenders. A nice play all the way around, but it's pretty late in the game for it to make a huge difference.

4th Quarter - 4th and 5 yards from the Texas Tech 25: Graham Harrell completes a pass to Shannon Woods for 9 yards.

Missouri rushes 5 again, and Harrell gets the ball to Woods in the flat where Woods is able to make a defender miss. An excellent open field play towards the sideline.

Every incomplete 4th down pass was over the middle. The sidelines were open and that's where the 1st down catches were made.

I have to believe that most coaches are going to watch this game film and do the exact same thing. If Texas Tech goes for it on 4th down, rush five, and clog up the middle of the field. There isn't a doubt in my mind that one of two things have to happen.

First, if Harrell is going to complete a pass to the outside then he has to have a little more time. I know, 5 defenders rushing is going to be difficult for any line to block, but that's what is going to happen from this point forward.

Second, it would probably benefit Harrell and the coaches to move Harrell around in the pocket to give him a little space. I realize that by rolling him out to one side or another essentially takes away one side of the field, but it's an option that needs to be considered, especially when a team takes away the entire middle of the field and brings 2 defenders straight up the center.

Conventional wisdom, from a defensive perspective, says that you don't blitz 5, but you rush 3, drop the rest into coverage and try to keep Texas Tech in front of you. That didn't happen once on Saturday and I think that we could expect a similar plan of attack against future foes.

Now it's your turn. Tell me what I'm missing. Would you have done anything differently? Is it just a matter of catching passes that the Red Raiders normally catch and there's nothing to worry about? Let me know.