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Us v. Them: UMass Offense v. Texas Tech Defense

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v.

 

The UMass Minutemen (2-1,0-0) v. The Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-0, 0-0)
September 20, 2008 @ 6:00 p.m.
Television: Nope
Radio: Texas Tech Affiliates
Weather: Lubbock, Texas

 

Statistical Leaders UMass
Passing Liam Coen: 61 Comp., 96 Att., 826 Yds., 9 TD, 1 Int.
Rushing Tony Nelson: 62 Att., 362 Yds., 5 TD
Korrey Davis: 8 Att., 21 Yds., 0 TD
Receiving Victor Cruz: 18 Rec., 351 Yds., 2 TD
Jeremy Horne: 15 Rec., 211 Yds., 3 TD
Julian Talley: 6 Rec., 95 Yds., 0 TD
Joe Sanford: 5 Rec., 55 Yds., 2 TD

 

Statistical Leaders Texas Tech
Tackles Brian Duncan: 23
Bront Bird: 20
Jamar Wall: 17
Tackles For Loss McKinner Dixon: 3.5
Brandon Williams: 3.0
Bront Bird: 2.0
Sacks Brandon Williams: 3.0
McKinner Dixon: 3.0
Marlon Williams: 1.0
Bront Bird: 1.0
Daniel Howard: 1.0
Interceptions Daniel Charbonnet: 4
Rajon Henley: 1
Darcel McBath: 1
Brian Duncan: 1
Jamar Wall: 1
Richard Jones: 1

 

UMass Passing Offense v. Texas Tech Passing Defense: The offense is not the problem for UMass. They're averaging 406.00 yards a game and they seem to have a pretty balanced attack. Quarterback Liam Coen has been especially effective on offense, averaging 8.60 yards per attempt and 9 touchdowns as well as just 1 interception. Coen's main target thus far has been Victor Cruz (6'0"/200), catching 18 passes for 351 yards and 2 TD's, while Jeremy Horne has caught 15 passes for 211 yards and 3 TD's. Coen spreads the ball around, as 7 receivers and backs have caught at least 3 passes in only 3 games and Horne is the biggest threat. As far as an offense goes, UMass, at least according to their depth chart, lines up in a pro-style of offense, with a two wide receivers, a tight end and a fullback. Tight end Ian Jorgensen isn't exactly a big pass catching threat with 5 catches for 26 yards and 2 touchdowns.

I think the pass defense is improving, slowly but surely. Last week against SMU was a good test as SMU is a passing team and most of them knew that they were going to be tested all game long. I think that most folks will admit that the 5 interceptions weren't all because of the great secondary play, but a defender still has to make the play and that can be the difference between a win or a loss at some point of the season. I do think that Brent Nickerson has stepped up nicely in place of L.A. Reed, who saw his first action last week. Nickerson has been relatively quiet for all three games, yet he's tied for 4th on the team with 14 tackles. Jamar Wall is seeing quite a few passes thrown his way, already resulting in 5 pass deflections. The interceptions haven't happened yet, but I think they will. I'm not sure that we necessarily have to talk about Charbonnet, as what he did last week was nothing short of great, while Darcel McBath finally showcased his more than servicable talents.

The pressure on the line was much better against SMU, but it seemed as if Texas Tech stayed in a base 4-3 scheme and just didn't blitz much. I mentioned in the report card that I thought (really I'm hoping) that this is McNeill not wanting to show his hand too early. I can't believe that he would be holding back, but that's the excuse I'm going with. McNeill did utilize the Joker package quite a bit against SMU with Daniel Howard mainly playing that role and I'm interested to see what happens when you use Dixon or Williams in that Joker role. Richard Jones, Brandon Sesay, Colby Whitlock and Rajon Henley are all making contributions alone the defensive line.

As good as UMass has been passing the ball, I'll take the Texas Tech defense to continue to improve.

Advantage: Texas Tech

UMass Rushing Offense v. Texas Tech Rushing Defense:  Tony Nelson leads UMass in rushing with 120 yards rushing a game.  Although the 120 yards a game is a bit deceiving as Nelson had 170 yards against Albany.  As stated above, the rushing game isn't the problem for UMass and they've done a good job in the past of rushing the ball.

Defensively for Texas Tech, I thought that the performance against SMU was pretty good, but there's still room for improvement.  SMU did not present a running threat (only 54 running attempts in 3 games) worthy of guarding against.  UMass will present a different threat with a much more balanced attack.

I'm hoping that this is a game that Texas Tech handles relatively quickly and we can see some of the younger guys get some needed time before facing Kansas State.  Keep feeding plays to McKinner Dixon and Brandon Sesay.  Let these guys get acclimated even more.  Additionally, I'd love to see some of the non-starting linebackers get some quality time, including Julius Howard, Sam Fehoko and Tyrone Sonier.  If there's an injury these are some awfully young guys with little expereince who will be asked to play.

Advantage: Texas Tech