LAST WEEK TO HIGHLIGHT RUSH DEFENSE | I'm declaring that this week is the last week that I'll be able to use the rush defense as a reason to lose. I know that this isn't the "reason to win or lose" article, but I'm going to get my money's worth this week and you can't do anything about it. After this week, I'm forcing myself to be more creative and stop using the pitiful rush defense as a crutch. I had no idea that cfbstats was keeping track of this, but I somewhat thought that Texas Tech was giving up huge chunks of yards, especially after Saturday night, but Texas Tech has given up 19 runs of 10+ yards, 5 runs of 20+ yards, 3 runs of 30+ yards, 1 run of 40+ yards and 1 run of 50+ yards. That's good for 42nd in the nation, which isn't awful, but is certainly in the wrong half of the nation. We've talked about linebackers and safety and defensive line play all needs to improve. Yes. Just get it done and find something to make this better.
EMERGING HYDER | This is the second game to point out the really good play of DT Kerry Hyder. I love the fact that he's active and he's not being out-muscled despite not being the biggest player. The real test starts now, but I'm impressed at what he's done, despite not having the best stats, having only 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 2 QB hurries and 1 forced fumble. And I even think that Hyder saw some time at defensive end last week and I think that Glasgow will like the idea of having a player that he can move around a bit, especially as the defenisve line needs to shore up the aforementioned rush defense.
RECEIVERS STEPPING UP | With WR Darrin Moore out for at least one week, this presents a perfect opportunity for QB Seth Doege and the rest of the receivers figure out who is going to be that down the field threat that the team lacked on Saturday night. Personally, I didn't think that the offensive play-calling was all that much different. I do think that OC Neal Brown was taking advantage of a Nevada defense that was giving up 5.76 yards per rush, which was almost better than what Doege was doing at quarterback, 5.84 yards per attempt. Doege didn't seem to me to look down the field and he has to be more comfortable looking down the field for someone else to stretch the defense. If forced to chose, I think that Jacoby Franks was pretty darned good in Moore's absence, but he was the only player to average over 10 yards per catch. That needs to be better this week.
More after the jump.
RETURN OF INJURED PLAYERS | I am cautiously optimistic about the return of DE Leon Mackey, CB Tre' Porter and WS Cody Davis. I can't or won't alibi for the defense last week, but I do think that Porter and Davis would have made some difference. In reading this week's post-game press conference, FS D.J. Johnson said that CB Eugene Neboh played the boundary cornerback spot, Porter's spot, for the first time last week:
I feel like Neboh stepped up and did a tremendous job. He didn't even play at the boundary corner, he just started playing it this week. You know what I mean? For him to transition to that side, that was huge, that was great. I'm grateful he was able to step up and make that play.
Porter will be back and it will be nice to have the run support of Davis from the weak safety spot. Not to mention the return of DE Leon Mackey, who will help free up some time and add some size to the defensive line. I don't know how much cumulatively they will all add, but I think it will be significant and am excited to have all three defensive players back on Saturday.
FORCING TURNOVERS | I mentioned this last week or a couple of weeks ago, how last year and this year the team jumped out of the gate incredibly quickly in terms of making plays, forcing turnovers and generally playing well the first few games, but then things somewhat fell apart during conference play. Last week, the defense didn't force a single turnover and those forced fumbles that helped the team. Turnovers are a finkle bunch and I think it's tough to rely on the fact that turnovers will happen each and every game because there will be games where it won't happen for the defense. But for the defense to continue to be successful, the defense needs to make plays. DC Chad Glasgow mentioned it after the game as well, that he needs guys that are going to make plays on the defense, i.e. CB Jarvis Phillips making a huge play by knocking down the pass on 3rd down and goal in Nevada's last scoring drive and DT Kerry Hyder's sack on 4th down in Nevada's last drive. They weren't turnovers, but those sorts of plays lead to turnovers.