I don’t know what’s going to happen at quarterback, but I do know that QB Michael Brewer isn’t going to be a savior. I think I’m part of the problem in that I’ve really built up Brewer as being "the guy" this spring, and this wasn’t just my opinion, it was the spring stats that proved this to be accurate. Brewer’s back injury hopefully was just a delay of what we thought would happen, which was that Brewer would be the guy that would lead this offense.
I write that because Brewer’s has been as patient as any other quarterback to wait his turn and I really like to see guys succeed.
I think that Brewer will put up fantastic numbers and being the type of quarterback that we’ve known to expect, but Brewer will make mistakes and he won’t be perfect. Brewer doesn’t have the strongest arm, I’m sure that Mayfield’s and Webb’s arms have more zip, but I think that Brewer’s decision-making is going to be light-years ahead of the other two in that category. I know that Mayfield has had more experience, but I think the past two or three years playing against a defense means something.
Just don’t expect perfection. Brewer is going to be rusty, but he’s going to be pretty danged good too. There’s going to be interceptions and there are going to be issues, but Brewer has shown too much over the course of mop-up time and spring games for you not to be excited.
These are your morning links:
- The LAJ with a bit on the prolific redzone offenses of Texas Tech and Iowa St.
- The DT and the LAJ on how the Cyclones are looking for revenge and continue a streak of beating a top 25 team on the road in each of the past three years.
- The LAJ on former coach Spike Dykes returning to Lubbock to help the Lubbock Area Foundation and the Sharon Dykes Family Endowment.
Pretty good little YouTube Channel, Alpha Beta, that has a ton of games available.
One more bit of self-promotion, which is if you are into the Facebook thing, make sure and check out Viva The Matadors Facebook page. SARR and I are making a more concerted effort to promote via the Facebook and so far, I think it’s working. A funny story, I did get locked out of Facebook earlier this week and the answer to the security question isn’t the answer that I thought it was and so I had to identify five different people who were my FB friends. I didn’t have a clue who a lot of the people were because I would just accept being a friend of anyone that asked through VTM, so I didn’t know a lot of people personally. I think I failed the test 10 or so different times, it was awesome.
THROW THE FLAG
A dramatic improvement, after a bye week nonetheless, for the tem as there were only six or so penalties when it mattered, from the first through the third quarter, but the team ended up with ten penalties for the game, one of which was intentional to run time off the clock. So, it’s good to see a team that continues to get better at things. I do think the addition of Beau Carpenter on the offensive line has helped quite a bit, not that there was a problem with Alfred Morales at guard, but having a freshman in there was going to be an issue. Carpenter isn’t flashy, but he’s really good and solid and teams up well with Le’Raven Clark.
QUESTION FOR THE CROWD
The running game got off to a rough start but really round their groove against Kansas. This is a two-part question, what do you think was the reason why the running game was successful against the Jayhawks and do you think this is sustainable for the rest of the Big 12? I don’t think there is any doubt that the threat of a running game is incredibly important for a team that passes as much as they do, so without even a threat, it can create problems from a quarterback perspective. Plus, defenses tend to drop a ton into coverage and Texas Tech needs to be able to punish defenses if they do decide to drop seven or eight players.
I know that this probably won’t be a popular topic, but that’s fine. Anyone else notice how many plays were changed at the line of scrimmage? I’ve never had a problem with doing this, not last year and not now. But I thought that after the first couple of drives, there were a lot of instances where Mayfield would call the play, get everyone on the line of scrimmage and then he and the receivers would bird-dog to the sideline to get the adjusted play. I think what was happening was that Kingsbury and Morris were seeing the defense and then making the adjustment based on the defensive alignment.
Again, I never had a problem with Neal Brown did this and I don’t have a problem with Kingsbury doing this. Whatever it takes to win, I’m not going to criticize how the sausage gets made because it is tasty.
The other interesting note is that when you get to the line of scrimmage as quickly as Texas Tech does, it certainly afford the offense the ability to check the play if necessary. Again, with a freshman quarterback, I’m all for using anything necessary to make sure the offense succeeds, whether it be something that’s annoying to some of you.
You know what’s awesome? A head coach and offensive coordinator that’s pretty smart and recognizes how to make adjustments and force the defense into bad situations. This is the drive where Kingsbury decided it would be time to run the ball and he did it in spades. I really think that we need to focus on the personnel grouping first. The cool thing about what we’re about to watch is that Kingsbury inserted RB Kenny Williams and IR/RB Sadale Foster.
I’m glad you asked. I think that what Kingsbury loves in Foster, maybe just a bit more than IR Jakeem Grant (at least right now, Grant’s only a sophomore and still learning) is that Foster can flip to inside receiver and running back. This really creates match-up problems for the defense because Kingsbury can run both 20-personnel with Foster in the backfield and he can then just run 10-personnel with just Williams in the backfield.
Pretty smart, right? Now defense aren’t sure what’s going to happen and I’m pretty sure that the reason why Kansas was so off balance is that they couldn't match-up with Texas Tech’s personnel. This is a handful of photos, so you’ll have to bear with me, but here’s the first play and Foster is split out. Please notice how dominant the offensive line is as they are across the line of scrimmage getting a pretty nice push. I think this play is designed to go between the left tackle and guard, but you can see the open space if he can get past Le’Raven Clark’s man, which he does, for a good number of yards.
This is play number two and as you can see this is 20-personnel and Foster gets the ball here and Kenny Williams is blocking and Foster is going to dig inside, but then decides to forget that and breaks to the outside, on the right side of the play and get a ton of yards (22 to be exact).
This is still the second play of this series and you can see Foster just seeing all of the wide open spaces.
On to the third play, Texas Tech is in 20-personnel again and Foster gets the ball again. Check out the push in the interior of the line. Just a thing of beauty. Foster cuts it up right in that hole between the tackle and guard and gains 8 yards.
On to the fourth play, where Texas Tech is in 20-personnel again and this time it is Williams’ turn and he’s also about to run to the interior of the line where you can see the hole again between the left tackle and guard. This is a 7 yard gain. Keep in mind that Texas Tech, for the past few plays has had Foster and/or Williams running and the other one has been the blocker and this is creating a match-up problem for Kansas. They would love to be able to substitute a linebacker here, but they can’t because Texas Tech is just running plays and not permitting Kansas to substitute.
Another play with 20-personnel and this time Williams gets 7 yards. It looks like the guy that Clark is blocking is about to make a play, but he’s not. That defender has already dug in too deep. Williams runs for 8 yards.
There is a sixth play here, but I skipped it and went to the seventh play where Kingsbury finally substituted DeAndre Washington and he gets the first down.
Again, as you’re watching plays, watch to see who is in that particular personnel group and how Kingsbury utilizes those players in a particular package. Grant’s received plenty of work at running back too, but not like this particular series, where this was really a terrific bit of coaching.
I really enjoyed seeing the emergence DE Branden Jackson as a defensive end and as another rush option. As a whole, this team has 40 tackles for loss for the entire year, while last year, the team had 66 for the entire season. One other bit is that there were just 15 quarterback hurries all of last year and 9 already this year, without getting through half of the season. And maybe one of the most impressive statistics for the defense through this process is that last year, Texas Tech forced only 3 fumbles. This year, the number is 8 through just five games.
I think just about every match-up favors Texas Tech, except for Texas Tech’s rushing offense vs. the Iowa St. defense. Let’s start at the top, where I am concerned if Davis Webb does start at quarterback for Texas Tech, he’s more prone to take chances on plays than I like, but that type of fearless can lead to huge plays for him. It just goes against my nature more than anything else. I think Webb and Brewer both play this game and I don’t think that Mayfield plays at all. I don’t have any inside information, just a hunch. Still, I think there’s plenty on offense for Texas Tech to have a distinct advantage passing the ball. Deon Brumfield for Iowa St. is the guy to watch and I’ll be really interested to see he covers. I’m guessing that he sticks on Amaro, but they may want to make sure that Ward doesn’t get going.
Running the ball, I feel much better about things than I did before the Kansas game, but Iowa St. still sports a top half rush defense while Texas Tech has one of the worst rush offenses in the country. This should be a landslide for Iowa St., but I really like what Texas Tech did in the last game and I think that it’s going to carry over a bit. Iowa St. is big up the middle, but not that big on the edge. It will be interesting to see where Texas Tech decides to run.
Defensive, Texas Tech has a top 20 rushing defense, #17 overall, and I don’t think this is a mirage as much as it was last year. ISU rushes for only 150 yards a game and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cyclones get that against Texas Tech, but not much more than that. Again, Texas Tech has been pretty dominant here. I really thought that Iowa St. would do a lot of damage with RB James White this year, but he’s squarely third behind RB Aaron Wimbley and QB Sam Richardson. Wimbley and Richardson have about 60 carries each, so these are your two main running threats.
Richardson has been pretty good, a decent completion percentage and averaging 7.3 yards per attempt with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The yardage just isn’t there and Richardson scares me infinitely more than Heaps did because of Richardson’s ability to run. Texas Tech doesn’t have the best passing defense, but I think that’s more of a direct result of needing to give up yards at some point and this is where it has to be.
I still like Texas Tech’s special teams against just about every opponent. Iowa St. isn’t bad, but Ryan Bustin has been unbelievable for Texas Tech as well as on kickoffs. It will be interesting in that Texas Tech has been stellar in kickoff returns, while Iowa St. is one of the best in coverage in the conference. Should be an interesting match-up on that front. Hopefully Iowa St. isn’t kicking lots of kickoffs.
I’m not going to doubt coach Paul Rhoads ability to get his team ready and I’m not going to doubt his team’s ability to rebound. I go back and forth on this, but Rhoads is one of the guys that I really respect as a coach as he seems to have a solid, yet unspectacular team ready to play each week. He’s always lacked that play-maker and this year, Rhoads has a really young team. Kingsbury has been as good as we could have hoped, but this is a shout-out to Rhoads for the job he does year after year.
|TTU Pass Offense vs. ISU Pass Defense
|TTU Rush Offense vs. ISU Rush Defense
|TTU Pass Defense vs. ISU Pass Offense
|TTU Rush Defense vs. ISU Rush Offense
|TTU Special Teams vs. ISU Special Teams
|TTU Coaching vs. ISU Coaching
DIAL IT UP
This was actually a really big play. Remember those running plays detailed above, well, this was the third down play that led to those string of plays. Texas Tech had backed itself into a corner, with pass interference call on WR Eric Ward. There was another play to get back some yards, but Texas Tech is faced with a third and fourteen and Ward has some work to do. The personnel is 0, meaning it’s an empty backfield. Ward is at the top of the screen and his defender is 7 yards off Ward, I’m sure thinking that he can’t give up those other 4 yards.
Everyone is running vertical routes except for one guy who is running underneath. Ward is dragging under the play, probably the last guy to look for, as QB Baker Mayfield’s eyes are pretty much down the field.
It’s funny how things work out, but the pocket breaks down and Mayfield is forced to move to his right, pretty much right in sight to get a pass to Ward as his defender is now 8 yards off of Ward. Ward is going to have to make up 13 yards before he gets the first down and he runs to the marker on the sideline. Ward makes the first down, pretty amazing how the defender just can’t get the right angle on this one, but he doesn’t.
The first game, it seemed like Texas Tech was spreading the ball around to everyone, but in looking at the receiving numbers, it’s pretty clear that Texas Tech has their top five receivers, which are the ones in double-figures: TE Jace Amaro (38), WR Eric Ward (27), IR Jakeem Grant (25), WR Bradley Marquez (19), and RB DeAndre Washington (12). I think that Kingsbury wants to get the ball to the best players, not the most players and I think offensively, these are certainly the guys that can make the most plays. This makes the most sense to me and it is always dependent on who is getting the most coverage and double-team.
K Ryan Bustin has been terrific all year, making 13 of 15 and leading the nation and is 2nd in the nation in scoring at 12.6 points per game.
I don’t know if the numbers were updated, but from the last Iconography, there were only 25 plays of 15+ yards and 11 plays of 25+ yards, but after Kansas, those numbers are at 43 of 15+ and 18 of +25. That’s quite a jump, but adding that many over a week seems like way too many. I’m guessing that the person that pointed out that this didn’t seem correct from a few weeks ago is correct. Just as a curiosity, I thought that it would be interesting to see how Neal Brown was doing at Kentucky from a yards per attempt and yards per plays. Texas Tech and Kentucky are actually right next to each other in yards per attempt, sitting at 7.6 for Kentucky and 7.5 for Texas Tech. Texas Tech has almost 1,000 more yards and 122 attempts. Kentucky doesn’t really have a passing quarterback, so I’d be hesitant to judge too quickly on that. As far as yards per play, Texas Tech is 54th at 5.93 and Kentucky is at 38th with 6.29.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
Let’s do this:
- Find Ward | I think teams will do whatever they can to stop Ward and I’m undecided whether or not Ward will have Brumfield covering him or if Brumfield will cover Amaro. ISU has smallish cornerbacks, much like Texas Tech, so it wouldnt’ surprise me to see Texas Tech try to take advantage of that.
- Contain Richardson | With QB Richardson being the second leading rusher for Iowa St., he’s probably getting plenty of yards dropping back to pass and then taking off running when it’s not there. The defensive line and linebackers are really going to need to pay attention to Richardson and make sure and either keep him in the pocket and limit those rushes out of the pocket.
- Watch Bundrage | WR Quintin Bundrage has been terrific and might be ISU’s best play-maker on offense. Bundrage is averaging almost 18 yards per catch. Bundrage has had quiet games against Northern Iowa and Tulsa, but just busted out against Iowa, 146 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns, and Texas, 137 yards receiving and 1 touchdown.
- Dominate the Line | The offensive line for Texas Tech has to be dominant, both in protection and creating lanes for the running backs. Success is about consistency and I think we’d all love to see this two games in a row.
- Create Pressure and Lanes | We talked briefly about Branden Jackson, but in containing Richardson, item #2 above, the defensive line is going to need to play as solid as possible, similar to what they had to play against TCU, but Richardson is a better passer. That’s the problem for the defense.
FINDING YOUR WAY
Son of a gun, Texas Tech is either really fortunate or just really good. Maybe a little of both. Whatever is happening, Texas Tech is very much taking advantage of turnovers and opportunities. That’s what Texas Tech is doing. That’s a lot of "swing points" which are points inside the opponent's 25 yardline. And the field position is just an added bonus. Opportunistic is the word of the day here.
I’m also really impressed by the number of productive yards. I know that the total yards and the yards for points and wasted yards don’t necessarily add up, but those are the yards based on the total yards and each drive. I’ll have to figure out why there is a difference.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Congrats to Coach Candace Whitaker on her new baby boy:
Thank you to the Lady Raiders, staff & administration for a very special baby shower!🍼❤🏀 pic.twitter.com/Zt7xlRPMZg— Candace Whitaker (@CWhitakerTTU) October 1, 2013
And the men’s team supports the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Lubbock.
Texas Tech Men's Basketball supporting the Lubbock Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. pic.twitter.com/Wy0TbBzD1U— Trenten Hilburn (@tlhilburn) October 5, 2013
Fall Practice: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year.
Week 1 vs. SMU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - day to day; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - day to day.
Week 2 vs. SFA: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - out for game; OLB Andre Ross (leg?) - day to day.
Week 3 vs. TCU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game; IR Jordan Davis (hamstring) - out for game; OLB Andre Ross (leg?) - out for game.
Week 4 vs. TXST: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; QB Michael Brewer (back) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; RG Beau Carpenter (ankle sprain) - out for game.
Week 5 vs. BYE:
Week 6 vs. KU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; OG Alfredo Morales (knee/ankle) - out for game.