I've been somewhat saving this all weekend and am glad that I'm still able to use it. On Friday of last week, SB Nation's Bill Connelly wrote about which teams might prove you wrong over the course of the year, both good and bad. And I thought this was terrific and it was something I had not even thought about in my life (emphasis mine):
But while Texas Tech's 44-6 win over Northwestern State wasn't the gaudiest such game on the scoreboard, it was one of the more promising efforts overall. In their first game under defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, their fourth defensive coordinator in four years, the Red Raiders held NSU to 84 total yards (1.7 per play). They logged nine tackles for loss, which is notable since a) it is just three below the highest total of Week 1, and b) it is a hefty step above the 5.9 per game the Red Raiders averaged last season. D.J. Johnson and Kerry Hyder led the way, combining for five tackles for loss, two sacks and two passes broken up. And as a bonus, the dominance came in a way that might be transferable in Big 12 play: 41 of Tech's 44 tackles were of the solo variety. That shows an ability to tackle in space that will come in handy against Big 12 offenses.
That bolded portion is just terrific and knowing that Connelly wrote this, I was curious as to how Texas Tech did this week against a team like Texas St. that was a distinctive running team. So for reference purposes, 87% of Texas Tech's tackles against Northwestern St. were solo tackles and against Texas St. it was 75%. For comparison purposes, last year against Texas St., Texas Tech had 96% solo tackle rate, but by game two against New Mexico, that figure was 50%. That's right, last year Texas Tech made 34 tackles and 34 were assisted. I'm not sure that this is necessarily a predictor of anything (Texas Tech had a 91% rate against Oklahoma St. and against Oklahoma it was 69%). Still, it's something to watch.
As far as attacking the New Mexico offense, it is about gap control and head coach Tommy Tuberville discussed yesterday:
Yeah, it's different because it's assignment football. It slows you down. On the snap of the ball, you're not attacking the line of scrimmage much. You've got to work more lateral, depending on what the guy in front of you does. You've got the fullback coming through first, and you've got quarterback, and you've got the pitch guy. So it makes you think a lot more.
You absolutely saw this against Texas St. and it was maybe good to see Texas Tech get a game against Texas St. Granted, these are really two different offenses, New Mexico's is more of a veer and triple-option look. Still, last week against NM, UT had 8 tackles for loss but only 1 sack. I think that Texas Tech played it relatively safe against Texas St. so it will be interesting to see if DC Art Kaufman dials it up a bit or plays it safe yet again. I think the gamble in dialing up the pressure is that you're not going to have as good of gap-control along the line and that could lead to some big plays. I’d also mention that even against UT’s really good defense, New Mexico ran the ball for 206 yards on 47 carries for an average of 4.3 yards per carry. The Lobos will run the ball, there is no doubt about that and they will gain yards.
Attacking the Lobo defense after the jump.
I mentioned this also earlier in the week, but UT came out and just passed the ball against New Mexico. I think that at the end of the first half, UT had 6 total rushes. UT poured it on in the second half a bit, but overall, there were only 61 total plays for UT and New Mexico won the time of possession. And for a quarterback in David Ash that was particularly bad last year in getting the ball down the field, he averaged 9.5 yards per attempt.
It's been a bit interesting to see how OC Neal Brown has attacked both games. Against Northwestern St., he was somewhat conservative and against Texas St. he opened up the passing game a bit and put the Bobcat defense on their heels relatively quickly. I think at this point, New Mexico isn't sure what to expect because I'm not sure what to expect either. Texas Tech didn't run the ball one time the first three series of the game, but ended up with 186 yards rushing on 8.1 yards per carry. QB Seth Doege averaged 9.9 yards per passing attempt. That's higher than at any point last year when Doege's high mark was 9.7 against Texas St.
This is just from Texas St., but it's not just Doege throwing the ball down the field against Texas St., but his receivers are working their magic as well. There were 8 players that had a catch of 12 yards or more last week. That is spreading the ball out, that is the receivers getting yards after catch and it is Doege getting the ball down the field.
The thought that Texas Tech is going to come at you in waves is going to be somewhat accurate for the entire season and I think this is Doege and OC Brown's gameplan thus far this season. There are four players that have 2 touchdowns this year and 5 players that have 1 touchdown. That's not just one dominant player, but a handful of players that can potentially dominate a game. And last week, we didn't even see Texas Tech's most consistent receiver last year, WR Eric Ward.