Week 2 of the DTN Roundtable. Read up me hearties.
1) Dez Bryant is the only wide receiver on OSU's roster who has caught a significant number of balls. Should Tech double Bryant? (They do have a legitimate Tight End in Pettigrew who torched us a few times last year)
NM99 - My first reaction was yes, because the only plays I have seen for OSU were the highlight reels. I just reviewed the play by play versus Texas and Mizzou. It seems to me that they are much more dependant on big runs from Hunter (and he gets ALOT). You can't defend everything, but you have to take away as much as possible and make them play with the weaker parts of their offense. Man up on Bryant and force him to beat the man coverage. Our defense did a heck of a job against Texas and KU in man coverage. They are much better passing teams, and McCoy in particular is a better QB. I think we stick with that and force Robinson to make perfect throws if he wants to connect with Bryant. Otherwise we have to bring in a safety, which could concede the run.
Kayakyakr - I'm saying that TTU should man up against Bryant with cover 2 over the top for the first 2 series. If we can stop Hunter with the front 7, then nothing matters: roll over the safety on bryant every play, and play base defense. If not, I would rather give up a few plays on low-percentage throws than lots of plays on runs.
Tech92 - I think Tech should actually stack up to stop the run and maybe roll a safety over the top on Bryant. He is king of the jump ball play, so we may not have much of an answer for that. But if we can make OSU rely on the pass, I like our chances of getting pressure on Robinson and letting our LBs make a play on him when he runs.
Seth C - This makes me nervous. If McNeill moves a safety over to help with Bryant then Pettigrew could have a field day over the middle of the field, not to mention, not having an extra safety to help with the run game. If I had to choose, I'd probably continue to play it fairly conservative since this seems to be working fairly well at this point. Mix up coverages and hope like hell that Bryant doesn't get deep. Bront Bird, Marlon Williams and Brian Duncan are going to have to have huge days either stuffing the run, or helping out in coverage, probably Pettigrew.
djollie111 - That’s a hard decision. I’m a little wary of complicating the defensive scheme by game-planning around Bryant. I think the secondary has improved a lot over the past 2-3 weeks. However, the corner spot opposite Wall is a liability, as seen in many games. I think it was Nebrska’s Joe Ganz that went after that side repeatedly, and was successful. I trust L.A. Reed to put up a better fight against Bryant just because of Reed’s size and athleticism. If Reed’s in, leave the scheme alone. If Nickerson’s in, double Bryant.
More after the break...
2) Can you give us a comparison between Okie State's defensive front and that of UT? What do they do differently?
NM99 - Texas is more physical and more experienced, and I think they are faster as well. Orakpo has as many tackles for loss as OSU's top 2 DL combined. In looking at the numbers, OSU shows a lot of TFLs by DBs and LBs. So I think they are bringing the blitz more often to get pressure and collapsing on the ball. They won't be able to do that against Tech and cover all of our receivers. As far as sacks go, Orakpo has almost as many by himself as their entire team. Coollectively, Texas has almost 3x as many sacks as OSU. I think our OL wins this battle.
Kayakyakr - Oklahoma State's defensive front is blitz-based. They will bring 5-6 every down and still don't get to the QB. They do flush the QB a lot, causing a few errant throws. I expect Woods and Batch to be in the backfield much more often than they were against UT. OSU cannot get pressure with just their front 4 and if they start dropping 7, expect Harrell to set up a tea party and enjoy a few crumpets on each play.
Tech92 - No clue, to be perfectly honest. I have not seen much of OSU at all this year. About half of the Texas game. I don't think either front is especially strong compared to our offensive line's ability. Our O-line should dominate the Cowboys without much problem.
Seth C - Since I haven't had much opportunity to watch OSU, except for a drunken haze when they played Missouri, I'll stick to the numbers. As mentioned in 5 Reasons Texas Tech Will Lose, OSU has had the most success against spread teams, but even then, the Cowboys are giving up plenty of rushing yards. This may be an assanine statement to make because I haven't seen OSU play that much, but I'm guessing that they don't have a couple of physically dominant players like Texas did like Orakpo, Melton and Miller. I've got to believe that this Texas defense may have been the best we'll see all year and if Texas Tech, despite the second half struggles, can continue to do what it does, then I really like Texas Tech's chances. Again, this comes down to what Harrell sees.
djollie111 - I haven’t watched OSU nearly enough this season to be able to answer this one, so I’ll just have to look at the stats. OSU and Texas are worlds apart on the defensive front according to the numbers. In the Big 12, the rankings in sacks, tackles for loss, and rush defense are: Texas (#1, #3, #1) vs. OSU (#12, #8, #5). I just don’t see the Cowboys getting to Harrell and disrupting our run game enough to slow down the rolling Texas Tech offense.
3) How does our run defense stand up against OSU's running game? Would you gameplan to stop the run and make them beat you through the air?
NM99 - Absolutely stop the run first. OSU is rushing 48 plays per game and passing only 22 plays per game. Hunter picked up 154 yds vs. Mizzou (6.4 yd/rush) and 161 versus Texas (8.9 yd/rush). Those are some crazy good numbers. If we don't stop that, there is no need for OSU to pass. We have been pretty good against the run, but have not seen a team with a true feature back like Hunter. Nevada is the closest thing, and I think OSU is on another level when it comes to the run. The good news is that Whitlock has been playing lights out. He is going to be key against the run.
Kayakyakr - I think that OSU will get a few more yards than we normally give up. Understatement of the year. I expect Hunter to run for as many yards as he did against UT. I expect victory in this game to be reliant on our offense being 10 times as efficient in this game than they were against UT. We can hang, defensively with these guys, but it will come down to making plays in the backfield. Another week and another game that can be won or lost in the trenches.
Tech92 - Well, we're #10 against the run but this will be our first real test against a team that can actually run with any authority. I do think our D-line proved a lot to themselves against Texas in that they can play fast and physical against top teams. I would stack up against the run and force Robinson to win the game.
Seth C - Again, this is where my personality perhaps prevails over what is good for the team. If it's me, I stick with what brought me here. Good solid defense with pressure from the front 4 and hope like hell that Whitlock, Jones, Sesay and Henley have some of that magic left over from last week. I think our linebackers have improved dramatically over the course of converence play and I'm much more comfortable with M. Williams, Duncan and Bird, especially this week. And one other thing, which is something that my brother-in-law has mentioned the last two weeks, which is that guys are making solid tackles. Thus far, the days of arm-tackling and not really hitting someone seem like things of the past and if that trend can continue, moreso this week than any other, then I think McNeill continues the conservative play.
djollie111 - The best rush defense in the Big 12 OSU has faced was #1 Texas. The next best is #6 Missouri. But, OSU actually ran the ball better against Texas. But, Texas Tech has managed to get to #2 in conference in total rush defense, #3 in yards per carry allowed, with usually just a base defense. I think the Texas Tech defensive front is underrated and the linebackers have filled in the gaps very nicely against the run. Texas Tech has to play against the run, because there is nothing that wears down the defense more than letting an opponent chug down the field on the ground. It also eats the clock and TOP. Pressure on Robinson and the line of scrimmage will help the secondary make the routine plays.
4) It has been a year, football wise, since Gundy's tirade. What are the effects in terms of wins/losses and stats since then? Did his tirade help or hurt the team or did it have any effect at all?
NM99 - No affect. OSU is better this year because they are a year more mature, more experienced, and they are featuring players besides Robinson. Hunter is really good. Bryant is solid, and he is also the benificiary of teams having to overload the run. This creates a lot of big play potential, which OSU has thrived on.
Kayakyakr - I'm going to say that it did help. OSU has had a pretty good recruiting year so far, picking up a lot of interest, and most of that interest came before they went 8-1. That Gundy was willing to stick up for his players and gained internet fame puts his name out there.
Tech92 - I actually think the only effect of his boorish tirade was to make people outside of Oklahoma realize that OSUs coach is named Mike Gundy. I don't think it has had any affect on their on-field performance at all.
Seth C - I think tirades tend to be a little over-rated. For us, they are tremendous forms of entertainment, but for most football coaches, they are so focused on the task at hand, that they just ignore the hype. I think that Gundy's tirade maybe let his players know that he'd back them up, despite not being a player who was going to earn any playing time. As far as the players were concerned, I think they're probably mostly unaffected because they're at school and anytime they could have seen the tirade, they just turn off the television. If anything, it might have affected recruiting, but even then, things get explained in a manner that's favorable to Gundy, and in retrospect, I don't think that's such a bad thing because he wanted to draw a line with the press and he went about it publically.
djollie111 - OSU is better than last year. It looks like if it had any effect it was a positive one. That being said, I really think that episode really didn’t make a difference in the program.
5) If you were Mike Gundy keeping the ball away from the Raiders a key point in the Cowboys' gameplan, or do try to score as fast and as much as possible? Is time of possession going to be a factor in this game?
NM99 - If I were Mike Gundy, I would not worry about TOP. However, I would favor the run early 2:1 over the pass for 2 reasons. 1) Make Tech prove they can defend the run. 2) To tire out the D-line and open up the pass later. After seeing the Texas and KU games, the Tech pass defense is legit - when it wants to be. I would pass out of play action/option, espceially if Tech is playing zone on Bryant. If this results in controlling the clock, so be it. After the first 3 series, I would switch to a more balanced attack. I think TOP is within 10 minutes (35 min to 25 min or closer), so I don't think it's a factor.
Kayakyakr - Absolutely I try to play ball-control. It's a risky strategy if you cannot execute on 3rd down, but when you have Kendall Hunter running for you, you can easily run 3 downs in a row and pick up the majority of your 1st downs. Attack the edges, keep the clock moving and try to put together 10+ play drives. All that said, I don't think time of possession will be an issue, even if OSU dominates it: the offense has to click.
Tech92 - Teams that have had the best success against Tech have been able to do two things:
1. Keep the ball with ground control - and score TDs on those drives
2. Force Tech to either turn it over on downs, or punt more than three times in a game.
If I'm Gundy, the absolute last thing I want to do is get into a shootout. Their offense, while very capable of scoring quickly, isn't specifically designed that way. Tech's specific plan is to score as often as possible as fast as possible.
Seth C - If I'm Gundy, I stick to my guns the entire game. Win or lose, I think it's important that OSU just do what it does best and if they're down, then doing what they do, not forcing the pass, will pull the Cowboys in quicker if they're behind early. It worked for Nebraska and I see no reason why it wouldn't work for OSU.
djollie111 - Keeping the ball away from Texas Tech’s offense is always the plan for our opponents. The question is: can they do it? Oklahoma State certainly has the ability to keep it away from us, and I think they will try to run it down our throats, with an occasional play over the top on our weak corner. However, I think our defense will defend the run better than they expect, and then Robinson will go to the pass. I think we lose time of possession this game, but it’s not lopsided.
6) Prognosticator's Hats: Pick the winner:
Baylor @ UT
Oklahoma @ A&M
Iowa State @ Colorado
Kansas @ Nebraska
Kansas State @ Missouri
NM99 - (5-0)
Baylor @ UT UT
Oklahoma @ A&M OU
Iowa State @ Colorado CU
Kansas @ Nebraska KU
Kansas State @ Missouri Missouri
Kayakyakr - (4-1)
Baylor @ UT
Oklahoma @ A&M (feeling CRAAZY)
Iowa State @ Colorado
Kansas @ Nebraska
Kansas State @ Missouri
Tech92 - (5-0)
Baylor @ UT - Texas big
Oklahoma @ A&M - OU big
Iowa State @ Colorado - Colorado
Kansas @ Nebraska - Nebraska
Kansas State @ Missouri - Mizzou
Seth C - (4-1)
Baylor @ UT (-28): I'll take UT at home, being a little motivated after a loss.
Oklahoma (-27) @ A&M: I'll take the Sooners.
Iowa State @ Colorado (-9.5): I'm not sure what to think of Colorado, but I'll still take them at home. The 9.5 makes me nervous.
Kansas @ Nebraska (-1): Nebraska snaps back from being crappy. Kansas State @ Missouri (-27): Yeah, this isn't going to be pretty.
djollie111 - (5-0)
Baylor @ UT – Texas. I feel sorry for Baylor this week.
Oklahoma @ A&M – Oklahoma. Bradford will tear A&M apart.
Iowa State @ Colorado – Colorado avoids the cellar in the north.
Kansas @ Nebraska – Kansas, but it’s close.
Kansas State @ Missouri – Missouri adds salt to Prince’s wound.