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Keys to the Game, A&M Revisited and Kansas

Q: What do fat little girlfriends and the 2009 Texas Tech - A&M game have in common? 

A) Ugly. 

B) Both are accompanied by a hangover the next morning.

C) You really just want to forget it ever happened.

D) All of the above.


Join me after the jump for a deeper look into the A&M game and what we must take from it to win against Kansas.

Trick question.  The answer is

E) None of the above.

While the Tech-A&M game was ugly and some fat little girl friends may be ugly, we cannot assume all fat little girlfriends are ugly.  Similarly, we have no evidence to support the hangover theory.  And while the easy thing would be to forget the whole experience, we must learn from it or it will come back to haunt us.

So what did we learn this weekend?  Let's start with the QB's, since that is the hot topic.  Some would say that we learned that Potts is not the QB for Tech and that Doege is a better option.  I did not attend the game, so I have not seen any evidence other than their stat lines.  These indicate that, while Potts did throw 2 INTs, Their completion rate was comparable (Potts 69.4%, Doege 72%) and Potts was significantly better in yds/attempt (8.6) than Deoge (5.8).  Does Potts always make the best decisions?  Nope.  Is he comparable to every other first year QB in Leach's tenure? Yes.  Neither INT resulted in Aggie points.

And what about Doege?  Hard to say.  He did get some meaningful snaps in, but it was after A&M was up by 24 points.  Again having not seen the game, it is hard to say if they were bringing as much pressure or playing as tight as they were earlier in the game.  He certainly did not check to the run any more often (4 rushing plays, though both TDs were runs), and as mentioned above his productivity was not that great.  The first TD came on a very short field. 

Does something need to be done to get the offense firing on all cylinders?  Yes.  Is Doege it?  I can't say.  Our offensive line went through what I believe is it's 6th different group of starters and gave up 3 sacks.  Not bad, but not great.  We learned that Adrian Waddle will be solid for the next 3 years.  We learned that we cannot just show up and score points to win football games.  We learned that, contrary to what many would have us think, it takes more than a pulse to pilot this offense.  From what I can tell, neither QB lit it up out there.  Both led the team to 2 TDs.  Many people were excited to see Doege, but I have to question if some of the excitement isn't just the excitement that comes from something new and support of the under-dog?  As the saying goes, the 2nd string QB is always the most popular guy on the UT campus.  He has done nothing wrong.  Let's reserve judgment and not fall into that trap.

As much as Potts has drawn the ire of fans and Leach for allowing him to start, I want to point out one very important statistic:  52 points allowed.  The Tech offense may not have won this game, but they certainly didn't lose it.

On defense, I believe that we were exposed by a coaching staff that watched just a little bit of film.  In last week's recap, I noted that Nebraska was able to push us around and run the ball when they committed to drive blocking.  Further, I noted that the routes across the middle were open, and that we were burned several times due to lack of containment.  The Aggie game plan took advantage of every single one of these aspects.  I have to believe that we were overconfident having beaten NU on the road.  Nobody checked the scoreboard prior to the A&M game to find out they had just lost to Iowa State at home as well.  

Two weeks ago following Kansas State, I noted that the Wildcats beat themselves in many ways, which allowed Tech to play almost exclusively pass defense against a team that does not like to pass.  Yet we were lulled into complacency by the non-existent transitive property of football, which would have had us believe that we would beat the Aggies by 100 points.

For the past 2 years many people have harped about playing soft on the corner.  This week, A&M picked on LaRon Moore both in the air and on the ground, running sweeps to his side of the field.  When the DE loses containment and the corner is 10 yards off the line, that's a lot of green space.

This week we learned that we have gotten some lucky breaks and have been a one-trick-pony of sorts on defense - good at pass rush, not good at containment and run defense.  We learned that statistics and rankings tell you what you want to read, which may not be the truth.  Our run D looked good on paper because we played games in which teams opted to throw the ball. 


On to Kansas. 


There's no place like the Jones....


Mangino and Leach know each other well.  They know the other's tendencies and strategies. They do many things similarly.  This game is not about outwitting the other guy.  This is almost always true, but more so in this game than most, the winner will be the one that executes better.

Offensive Keys

1) Run the ball.  Last week the key was to stick to basic play calling, which we did with moderate success.  Though Leach thought that the offense looked contrived.  I am assuming Doege starts, based on "sources" (though Leach claims this is another game time decision). Based on his numbers last week and against KSU, Doege is going to have to rely on the other skill guys to make the plays, as he doesn't seem to be a threat to really stretch the field.  Our success passing will be predicated on the fear that Batch, Jeffers, or Stephens may rip off a 20 yard run at any moment.  I hope for at least 3 of these.

2) O-line: play as a unit.  I am done trying to figure out who is going to start and play where on the line this year.  Just keep the QB of the week clean and create a few holes for Batch.  To do this, you have to work together.  Guys are in new spots all the time this year - watch out for each other and make sure everyone is clear on their assignments.

3) Get the ball in space.  Once again, this is the key principle of the Tech offense.  If Potts has a fatal flaw it is that he will try to force the ball into a tight spot.  Whoever starts needs to learn from this mistake.  In space, we have skill players that will occasionally make a guy miss and that is what creates the big play.  If that space comes on the ground because the defense drops 8 guys, take it.

Defensive Keys

1) Cover like a blanket.  This is a repeat.  Even though A&M did most of their damage on the ground, we certainly weren't generating a lot of highlight material here.  Kansas will run the crossing route all day long if we let them.  We struggled to cover it for two weeks in a row.  Fix this.  Please.

2) Reisling Reesing.  This guy is absolutely the key to the KU offense.  As he goes, so do they.  He has the ability to extend plays with his feet and to scramble for yards.  Last year we harassed him and kept him from finding a rhythm.  We need to do this again.  As Seth said earlier, we need to contain.  This is another problem that must be remedied. Let the pocket collapse, and when this happens, we need a spy ready for when he rolls out.  We don't have to get sacks, we just need to keep someone in his face, use the sideline, and not let him run for 7 yards and slide.

3) 3rd downs.  Kansas is really good at converting 3rd downs.  We can't sit back on 3rd and long and try to keep it in front of us.  Our guys have ot know where the sticks are and not let their receivers get to them.  Bronte Bird needs to settle down a little as the Joker on third down and not bounce around so much.  Keep 'em guessing, but don't be in hopping around and in mid air when the ball is snapped.


Special Teams

This is another of those weeks where we don't need any miracles in this aspect of the game, just don't let anything bad happen.  No muffed punts or kickoffs, no big returns allowed.  Just solid play.