THE RESULT | WE ARE WHAT WE ARE | It's not surprising that there were folks a bit disappointed in a 15 point win, I think I've come to expect that given the current situation. I also continue to be disappointed that we can't seem to enjoy anything, but maybe I just need to lay off when folks are disappointed at the outcome and not be an antagonist because I think I feel like this team needs to be protected a bit. I know that's a completely silly proposition, but like a lot of you, I get emotionally invested with a team and when there are fans that seemingly aren't happy with anything, it's tough for me to rationalize. That's not to say that I'm totally happy with everything. I still hate the administration and if there's any silver-lining that could come out of Leach's termination is that the administration is slowly but surely becoming exposed for what they are. It's just a matter of time I think before some people will pay with their jobs. But I also can't just criticize the staff and the players because of what the administration has done. I've tried my best to separate the two because I think they're two different issues and situations, but I don't know that everyone has separated the two. For me personally I want the best of both worlds: I want and enjoy the administration being exposed for lying about what happened with Leach and I still want to see my football team, which includes Tuberville and OC Neal Brown and DC James Willis and all of the players on this team succeed.
I usually think that I have a pretty good handle on how people feel about this team and the program, so if I were to ask you if you could agree or disagree with the statement above, or parts of it, I am curious as to where would people stand on both of those issues what they want or if they care.
So the regular season ends with this team being what they are. They are still inconsistent on offense and still woeful on defense and I really don't have clue as to how this defense only allowed 20 points to Houston. A lot of it had to do with Houston stopping themselves sometimes, but I'm still surprised that this Texas Tech defense, as awful as it is, was able to hold the Cougars to only 20 points. Nevertheless, I still thought this Houston game was a pretty good summary of what the entire season has been like.
Storylines and MVP's after the jump.
TRACKING THE OFFENSE | I've briefly mentioned the book that I'm reading, Take Your Eye Off the Ball, and one of the things that the author mentions is that the best way to know what an offense is doing is to track each play with the down and distance, the yard line, the personnel group, the type of play and if that play had success. Last night was the first night that I actually did that, although I did it some last week, this week I had the opportunity to rewind the DVR and pick up on some things that I missed last week and last week's effort is really incomplete.
After I finish these PGT, I'll start plugging things into a spreadsheet and show my work, but I think it's safe to say that the offense runs out of 10 personnel (1 running back, 0 tight ends) probably 90% of the time. One of the biggest questions that we've been asking all past off-season and this season is what's the deal with the offense? How is it different? Is it better? Is it worse? Is it really the same? I'm going to try to take a long and detailed approach to looking at the offense after the season ends, but it was really fascinating to actually track the plays and in particular the personnel.
I don't know why it dawned on me last night, but I think that if you were to ask head coach Tommy Tuberville today as to whether or not Texas Tech is running the same offense that was run last year, the answer would be yes. And I'm sure that I'll be accused that I'm giving Tuberville too much credit, but I honestly believe that when you talk football, in general, that if you look at the formations and the routes by the receivers, it is the same offense. I think what Tuberville has severely mis-read is the fact that I think that your average fan on DTN on general Texas Tech is more educated than most. I think most fans can see that yes, the formations and the routes are essentially the same, but something is different and I've really struggled to figure out what's different about the offense all year. Last night was somewhat eye-opening in that I do think that Tuberville believes what he says in that the offense is the same, i.e. 90% of the plays out of 10 personnel.
I'm hoping that by diagnosing the plays and the personnel that we might have a better idea as to how to make the offense better because saying that it stinks doesn't offer much of a discussion. And one of the more striking things is the overall balance that the offense has . . . except for the 2nd to last and last drives of the game. There was only 1 other time that the offense ran the ball 3 times in a row, it was the 5th drive of the game and one of those 3 runs was Taylor Potts 28 yard zone-read. In other words, the offense digressed at that particular point and I do think that the one thing that's tough for Tuberville to get out of his system or OC Brown needs to figure out a better way to implement it, is that he wants to milk the clock. Texas Tech ran out of 10 personnel for those 3 plays (1 running back no tight end) and I think that without a true tight end on the team that if OC Brown is given the directive to run the ball and he decides to utilize an 11 personnel and TE Chris Olson isn't at least a threat to catch the ball, the defense can load the box even more than running out of 10 personnel. Maybe with the arrival of Jace Amaro and Tony Trahan on this team, the offense will be better suited to get a first down rather than just eat up a few minutes of time.
LEWIS DOMINATES | Damn, I wish that this was the Detron Lewis that we've seen all year. Lewis finished the day with 11 catches for 135 yards and 2 touchdown, and since moving from an inside receiving spot to the dominant receiving spot on this offense, he's been really good. The thing that scares the crap out of me, and it's even more evident as I track the personnel, is that there's a reason why there's a ton of 10 personnel, trips-left. It's to get one-on-one coverage with Lewis against any Houston defensive back. Nine times out of ten, Lewis will win that battle and it's not even close. So you're wondering what worries me? Which receiver on this team is so physically dominant that he'll win those same battles next year? Lewis' physicality is his biggest trait and although he's not fast, the fact that he's the size of a running back creates problems for defenders that give up 15 or 20 pounds to him. Since the move, Lewis has been really good, but I'm not sure who's going to be able to take his place next year. And this is a serious concern, at least for me, moving forward next year. I almost never count on a true freshman busting on the scene and the biggest named receiver last year was Shawn Corker. Darrin Moore looks the part, but I'm not completely sold just yet. Need to start thinking of a guy that can dominate single coverage
3-4, 4-3, 3-3-5 . . . IT'S ALL THE SAME | When Tuberville and DC James Willis said that they wanted to start running a 3-4 defensive scheme, but that the scheme would be a multiple front defense, again, the light didn't click on for me until last night. There were many times that the Texas Tech defense played three down linemen, four down linemen, two linebackers, three linebackers, etc. Maybe it's taken a full year for me to get it, but I think I get what Willis wants to do. First, Willis always preaches gap-control, that the defense is a single-gap defense, meaning that every player is responsible for a particular gap. I don't know if it's fair to say that most, but a lot of NFL defenses that run the 3-4 defense require that the down linemen (nose guard and two defensive ends) must be responsible for two gaps. For example, the nose guard must be responsible for both gaps between the center and two guards. Texas Tech doesn't have the personnel to run that sort of defense. Ultimately, that sort of defense really frees up your linebackers to make a lot of plays. What Willis is trying to do is either make every player responsible for a gap, whether it be down linemen and the linebackers filling the holes or the defensive line slants to one side or another with the thought that the defense is slanting the direction of the play.
Over the past few weeks, Brian Duncan has moved from outside linebacker, where he's been largely ineffective going against larger tackles that just eat him up from a size perspective back inside alongside Bront Bird. This works so much better it's not even funny. Having both Bird and Duncan inside, it creates a scheme in which either player is capable of blitzing, finding the hole along the line and creating some pressure on the quarterback. Duncan was stifled playing outside and he's a much better player inside. That's not to say that I didn't write down his name a couple of times on some missed tackles, but seeing Duncan and Bird inside makes a lot more sense schematically.
And now it makes more sense to me as to why Cqulin Hubert was such a huge player for this team. Both Duncan and Bird being seniors, this team desperately needs linebackers that have enough size to fill those inside gaps and take on a guard or center but have enough range to go sideline to sideline. This may be the most important position on the defense.
One other thing that I noticed is that we saw a lot more of S Cody Davis and OLB Brent Dewhurst essentially play the same position or at the very least be interchangeable. Both players are essentially the same size and with Dewhurst being moved to an outside linebacker spot essentially a 3-3-5 defense with Dewhurst filling that 5th secondary player. With the offense not really knowing whether or not or if either Davis or Dewhurst would blitz can create some questions for opposing offenses. And I thought that last night, we probably saw Davis blitz at least a handful of times, probably more (want to re-watch this portion). I can't say for certain if this is going to work, but for whatever reason, the light finally went on for me personally and I think I get what Willis is trying to do. Now it's just about finding some players that can play a little man coverage.
MAYS STARTS | Let's think about this. I think the first time that I saw a mention that WR Derrick Mays was working at cornerback was three weeks ago and last night he started. I know no one likes to use the excuse / reason that the injuries have really stacked up for the secondary, but Willis was starting a player who was getting reps at wide receiver for three-fourths of the year and was starting the last game of the year. And oh, yeah, also starting is walk-on Eugene Neboh. At this point, I think it's funny.
AT LEAST THEY'RE ACTIVE | The defense was shut-out in getting a sack on Houston's quarterback. But, in what seemed like a really long time, there were players making some plays. I counted 11 pass break-ups and 3 interceptions. If Duncan doesn't play that outside linebacker spot, you have Sam Fehoko and Dartwan Bush trying to do the same thing that Duncan did. I think both Fehoko and Bush have more speed that Duncan and that helps them at the very least get pressure on the outside, but at least these two, along with Kerry Hyder, was trying to create some havoc defensively.
TURNOVERS AND FUMBLES | I think RB Eric Stephens has a homework assignment. An entire off-season to figure out how not to fumble the ball. Tuberville and OC Brown speak glowingly about Stephens and there's no denying his talent, but if he keeps putting the ball on the turf, all of that talent is irrelevant. I can't recall IR Cornelius Douglas fumbling prior to last night, but you still want guys not fumbling the ball.
QUARTERBACK CHECK | QB Taylor Potts had one of his better games against fairly decent competition. He completed 69.5% of his passes, which is a pretty good percent, for 373 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. For the year, Potts averaged 1 interception for 3.87 touchdowns for the year, significantly improving last year's 1 interception to 2 touchdown ration. Interestingly, Potts finished this year with a quarterback ranking (which I have no idea what this means) of 138.34 and last year he had a quarterback ranking of 137.15. Potts is what he is, but if you asked me if I thought he got better this year, the lack of turnovers, 13 in 2009 to 7 in 2010, is the biggest thing for me. Just much better decision-making. I'll let you guys and gals figure out whether or not to chalk it up to coaching or Potts maturing or whatever.
INTERESTING NUMBERS | This has already been mentioned, but Houston only converted 1 of 15 third downs but converted 5 of 8 fourth downs . . . there were only 6 penalties all game long, 2 on Houston for 20 yards and 4 on Texas Tech for 29 yards . . . Donnie Carona averaged 54 yards per punt compared to the bench Jonathan LaCour, who only averaged 29 yards per punt . . . RB Baron Batch and Eric Stephens combined for 137 yards from the line of scrimmage, had 83 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving . . .
OFFENSIVE MVP | QB Taylor Potts and WR Detron Lewis | Lewis was a matchup nightmare for Houston and Potts was incredibly accurate for most of the game (sans the 1 interception).
DEFENSIVE MVP | ILB Bront Bird | Getting that interception in the first half was really nice and Bird finished with 8 tackles yesterday. Could have picked Colby Whitlock again, but Bird finished with over 100 tackles for the year compared to 56 last year. He's limited physically, but this defense would have been in even worse shape if he didn't play this year.
SPECIAL TEAMS MVP | WR Aaron Fisher | I think Fisher made the tackle on Houston's fake-punt and also made another tackle on coverage.