This really has been one of the tougher previews I’ve had to write because I’m just not sure how to tackle this situation. How do you stop an offense that hasn’t been stopped all year with a defense that can’t stop anyone? How do you suddenly become an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over and scores at will against a defense that hasn’t allowed some really good offenses to do much of anything?
I certainly could write about how Texas Tech could just be a team that wants to messes up the season for another team, but I’ve never really wanted to subscribe the theory that this is enough motivation to last an entire game. I think pride is more motivation than to just be a spoiler. I think that most folks that play sports at this level just aren't interested in being a spoiler, although you can certainly enjoy that role if it happens. These folks are playing because they are true competitors and play because that's what they do.
These are your morning links:
- The LAJ on the undefeated Baylor squad.
- Our friends over at Our Daily Bears have a statistical preview of the game.
- The FSWT on how Texas Tech is still confident despite three straight losses.
- If you want a really cool gift for the holidays, go check out TTURed and Totally Texas Tech for some great photos in a coffee table book.
- The DMN with five things that Baylo fans should know about Texas Tech.
THROW THE FLAG
Another week and another game where the penalties were significant enough for me to write this paragraph. I don’t really know what to think about this other than I know that Kingsbury is a pretty no-nonsense sort of guy that you think would be working on this. Even then, sometimes, as hard as a person may try, you can’t stop people from making bad decisions. Now, for the season, this team is 118th in the nation, out of 125 teams. Texas Tech just isn’t good enough to overcome the penalties, but take this week’s opponent, Baylor is 120th in the nation in penalties per game, but obviously they’ve got enough firepower to overcome this. I tend to think that in a given game when the offense can’t make up for mistakes, then the penalties become that much bigger of an issue, but in 2008 Texas Tech was 97th in the nation in penalties. Again, maybe this has more to do with being able to overcome those penalties, which is why they’re just so difficult to watch at this point in the season.
QUESTION FOR THE CROWD
For the first time Kingsbury mentioned that possibly personnel is an issue in terms of the defense. I mentioned it during the pullquotes post that this is a nice way of saying that maybe the injuries and the lack of depth and the players themselves are problematic. I don’t like thinking that and I didn’t like thinking it a few years ago. This isn’t so much a question about the veracity of that statement because it’s highly debatable, but my question is how do you solve it? Assuming it’s true just for a moment, what’s the biggest way to solve this issue if the game is being lost on the line of scrimmage? It’s not always advantageous to just recruit a bunch of big guys that can’t play and you can’t recruit just a bunch of undersized players with the hopes that they put on some weight. You’re the recruiting coordinator and you get to make a plan as to how and what Texas Tech would recruit the defensive and offensive lines. Not looking for names of players, but strategy to solve the problem now? Emphasize high school players or junior college players?
Baylor head coach Art Briles and some of his players spoke to the media earlier this week this is Briles on Kingsbury:
"He's the son of a high school football coach, first and foremost. He's been around it all his life. He's very intelligent, driven and dedicated, very creative and he's an achiever. Those are good characteristics to have. I was there when he was getting going, playing quarterback at Tech and it's been fun to watch his career."
And here is Briles on DC Phil Bennett:
"We didn't want it to take time because you never do. We're an instant society and that's what it's all about. What he's brought is stability and experience. Like I've said many times, you can have all the money in the world but you can't buy experience. You've got to live it, taste it and feel it. He's got a great knowledge of the game and he's a tireless worker that's driven to succeed. That bleeds off on the staff and the players on that side of the ball."
Briles also discussed some of the injuries:
"From the injury standpoint, we had two and a half quarters of football without those three big guns offensively. I thought our guys played outstandingly and I thought our offensive line was really good and carried us on. Lache and Glasco are both day to day. Shock's performance was non-surprising. The thing about these guys is we've been able to give them some meaningful playing time prior to last Thursday night and it helped that night--especially in Shock's place."
And we’ll pick up a bit from QB Bryce Petty:
"They're a really good team, one that we're going to have to prepare for just like anybody else. They've gone through an unlucky spell of injuries and things like that so I don't really think that their record shows how good their team is because I think they have a really good team. We're going to have to be prepared on offense, defense and special teams just like were facing the best team in the conference cause right now that's who they are. We're excited for the challenge."
Generally speaking, the reason I don’t write all that much about penalties in any post-game write-up is that because I largely find them unimportant. They are irritating during a game, but there are lots of irritating things during the game. Also in thinking about this, in terms of penalties and that sort of thing, because I really don’t think it reflects on whether or not a team is disciplined or not, is the idea that time of possession is important. Maybe the better way to write that is that there are times when time of possession can be important, but largely, it is a statistic that I don’t really consider when looking at a game. Maybe I’m just conditioned to think that way because Texas Tech has been pretty poor at time of possession for quite some time, so it’s second nature to ignore. You can go up and down the list of that lead and are not leading in time of possession and there are winners and losers all over the place. Florida is first, but Michigan St. is second. Oklahoma St., Baylor and Texas A&M are all in the bottom 10, but so are Indiana and Hawaii.
If anything is true, it does put more pressure on a defense that just isn’t very deep and relatively thin, but I think coaches just have to pick a style and go with it. Play fast, then that’s what they have to do, play fast on offense and be able to rotate lots of players on defense to account for that. The time this year when I think the defense really got punched in the mouth was when Oklahoma went no-huddle and just pounded the ball. It seemed like there were players looking to the sideline wondering WTF are we supposed to do and they just didn’t have any answers. I think they were largely unprepared for that and it was troubling for sure, but I think that’s when it hit me that this team just wasn’t ready to dish it out like I thought they might earlier in the season. No matter the style, Kingsbury has to get to a point where he has the bodies to do what he wants to do.
I just want to go ahead and get out that I do love Texas Tech, although the matchup chart won’t really indicate that. Texas Tech is, in fact, my favorite team. With that being said, the numbers are incredibly one-sided, except for the fact that Texas Tech is statistically a good pass defense team, but the truth of the matter, much like last year, is that this is not a tremendous pass defense team, it’s because the rush defense has been so bad the past three games and so I think it’s deceiving. When the past three teams rush for 300 yards a game, they just aren’t having to pass the ball.
In any event, I think you all probably know that the stars of the Baylor offense are many and varied. From the aforementioned Petty, to RB Lache Seastrunk, who might not play, but that probably won’t matter. Petty has thrown 1 interception all year. Think about that for a second. Still, Baylor appears to be a team of destiny this year, anchored by the offense that is simply rolling and only having to play for half of games. WR Tevin Reese may be out of the game, but then you have to doubt that Baylor won’t have a sufficient replacement. I think they will. WR Antwan Godley will surely make up for it and he’ll be a load outside (5-10/225) for either Bruce Jones or Falemi, who both might weigh 160. The offensive line for Baylor is also just terrific, led by Cyril Richardson. This is as a complete an offensive team that Texas Tech has seen and you might be able to say that about the defense as well.
The defense has been outstanding, led by S Ahmad Dixon, who is probably the star of the defense. Baylor has the #9 total defense team, the #7 scoring defense, the #8 passing defense and the #28 rush defense. There really just aren’t a lot of cracks here for Texas Tech to attack. The only thing that you might be able to say is that Baylor hasn’t played a passing team, but look at the rest of the Big 12. Other than West Virginia, how many pure passing teams are left? Just WVU and Texas Tech. At some point, that doesn’t really matter. Still, I do like Texas Tech’s matchup in this sort of game if Baker Mayfield is starting because I think he has a better ability to extend drives and is better on third downs. Still, it’s going to be a really tough task no matter who plays because they’ll eventually feel the pressure to have to keep up with the Baylor offense and that’s going to be a very tall task.
|TTU Pass Offense vs. BU Pass Defense|
|TTU Rush Offense vs. BU Rush Defense|
|TTU Pass Defense vs. BU Pass Offense|
|TTU Rush Defense vs. BU Rush Offense|
|TTU Special Teams vs. BU Special Teams|
|TTU Coaching vs. BU Coaching|
I keep thinking of ways to vary the offense in some form or fashion, especially the receiving targets and I just don’t know other than making a personnel change, just for a change of pace. Maybe it’s worth it to throw Reginald Davis and Derreck Edwards in the game, in the normal rotation and just run them down the field trying to beat the Baylor defensive backs and I’d really love to see it on some sort of play-action. It really comes down to whether or not the Baylor safeties are playing some sort of cover-2, but if they aren’t and one of the safeties bites, I’d love to just take a flyer on getting one of those guys down the field.
Pretty dramatic drop-off in the last game, Kansas St. did a terrific job of keeping things in front of them, with only a handful of plays that really extended the field. I really can’t wait to keep track of this sort of stuff on a week-to-week basis. Try to track how the offense performs in conference play versus non-conference play.
Week 5: 25 of 15+ and 11 of 25+
Week 6: 43 of 15+ and 18 of 25+
Week 7: 53 of 15+ and 21 of 25+
Week 8: 64 of 15+ and 27 of 25+
Week 9: 74 of 15+ and 29 of 25+
Week 10: 82 of 15+ and 33 of 25+
Week 11: 86 of 15+ and 34 of 25+
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
Let's do this.
- Be Determined | Texas Tech has to have "determined" drives, drives that are churning out yards and converting third downs. I don’t care about time of possession, I care about having productive yards to keep the defense off the field. I tend to think that one of the reasons the Texas Tech defense is as bad as it is is because the offense isn’t on the field very long and the offense is gifting the opposing offense too many easy opportunities. So the offense has to be determined and it has to churn out productive yards without turning the ball over.
- Feature Williams and Washington | What a better way to be determined that to somewhat feature Williams and Washington. I understand that Texas Tech doesn’t traditionally run the two back set and in doing so, you typically take Jakeem Grant off the field, but I’d love an offense that tries to feature Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington running the ball a bit more. The offensive line has to do their part in this equation and I’m not real confident that some parts of the line can get this done, but there’s just too much pressure on the quarterback at this point.
- Play Base | You just can’t bite on Baylor and try to stop one thing without leaving yourself completely open for another thing. Plus, with the injuries to Dartwan Bush, J.J. Gaines, Terrance Bullitt, and anyone else, this team just can’t afford to do anything exotic. I’m pretty sure that I’ll say the same thing next week against Texas, but the best thing that this team could do is just line up and try to beat the man in front of them. Easier said than done, but I think this is the best thing to do for this game.
- Send Someone | However, you can’t just line up and never do anything at all, and this is incredibly simplistic, but at this point, I’m struggling for answers here, but I’d try to play the base defense, but I’d blitz a linebacker as often as possible and just hit the gap that they’d play either way with the hope that the Baylor offensive line will miss a block. That doesn’t seem all that likely since Baylor has only given up 11 sacks all year, but this team has to create pressure points and I don’t want to see the defensive line stunt because that’s just leaving huge running lanes for opposing running backs wide open.
- Need Some Swing Points | It seems like it’s been way too long since Texas Tech has had many positive swing points, opportunities where it’s easy for them to score. The Pete Robertson touchdown against Oklahoma St. was certainly that type of opportunity, but other than that, those opportunities have been few and far between. Whether it be special teams or anything else, there has to be some sort of opportunities that this team creates something positive that isn’t just produced by the offense.
FINDING YOUR WAY
If you ever wanted an example of how offensive stats don’t mean anything, this is it. Again, the turnovers and the wasted yards for Texas Tech are alarming. The most eye-popping thing is the absolute lack of yards for points, which means Kansas St. was either scoring or they weren’t doing anything. And the first handful of drives were incredibly productive for Kansas St. At that point it just wasn’t fair.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
So, sure, why not.
In a hotly contested Big 12/SEC clash, Texas Tech beat Texas A&M... at meat judging http://t.co/amMhKx9c2y— Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) November 13, 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.
Week 7 vs. ISU: 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; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out during game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out during game.
Week 8 vs. WVU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Jakeem Grant (head) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; IR Sadale Foster (hip) - out for game.
Week 9 vs. OU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game.
Week 10 vs. OSU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; S Tre Porter (undisclosed) - out for game; OLB Terrance Bullitt (broken hand) - out for game; OG Beau Carpenter (head) - out for game; .
Week 11 vs. KSU: S Jalen Barnes (shoulder) - out for year; OG/C Tony Morales (shoulder) - out for game; LB Kris Williams (ACL) - out for year; S J.J. Gaines (shoulder) - out for game; DE Dartwan Bush (knee) - out for game; IR Carlos Thompson (undisclosed injury) - out for game; OG Beau Carpenter (head) - out for game.