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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Arizona State

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In this initial game week, we're going to look back to Texas Tech's last real game to the National University Holiday Bowl where Tech met the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

In this first week, we're going to take a look back to the Holiday Bowl to do our Good, Bad, Ugly play review. Next week, we'll look at Tech first game against the Central Arkansas Bears(given there's video to do such a review).

We're going to look at the ground game in the bowl game and try to glean some improvement heading into this season where the Texas Tech offense could use it the most. The offensive play calling was rather balanced that night, passing 41 times and running 34. Although the ground attack wasn't spectacularly effective, there was a certain determination to move the ball on the ground. The only other game with that kind of balance was when Tech hosted Iowa State (56 pass/45 rush) where Tech amassed 251 yards on the ground.

The Good.

This looks to be a lead play. Kenny Williams takes the handoff and headed towards the left side of the formation (crossing over from where he was originally aligned). The second back, I think Sadale Foster here, is able to get a block on the backside to keep a free defender from catching Williams from behind. What makes this play work is the offensive line is able to take their men and hold them up long enough for Wiliams to get through. With this formation, there is only one linebacker, and the backside guard here, Beau Carpenter, is able to work up to seal him off. Once Williams makes it through the line, it's up to the defensive backs to track him down and close the space. By the time this happens, though, he has already gained nearly 15 yards.

Now, there wasn't a giant hole for Williams to work with, but one where the defenders opposite the gap were sealed off in their respective sides, allowing Williams to move through untouched. This kind of execution is going to be crucial to Tech being successful running the ball this season. This isn't an overly fancy and tricked up play, but executed well enough to break off big chunks on the ground.

The Bad.

This is kind of a delayed, counter draw. Inside receiver Jakeem Grant is motioning across the formation from the strong side to the back side to draw a defender from the middle of the field. By this point in the game, he had already taken a quick pitch in for a touchdown off this look, so this decoy wasn't a bad idea. Williams takes the handoff and heads left, but that front side linebacker quickly sees the play unfolding and steps up into the gap, forcing Williams to try to cut outside.

Without a numbers advantage to this side, and Clark losing his man once he recognizes teh draw, Williams didn't have anywhere to go but sideways and the defense was quick enough to track him down. Williams is not the type of back that Tech can count on to cut to the outside and out run defenders to the edge. DeAndre Washington? Maybe. Just not Williams.

The Ugly.

First play of the game. As you can see, it's a lead play off the left side very similar to the Good play in this post. Left tackle Clark lets that outside defensive end take himself out of the play, opening a hole. It appears that the play is designed to go in the left side A gap, between the center and left guard. You can tell that Kenny Williams adjusted his point of attack with the side step to try to get to the hole opened by Clark. The center, Jared Kaster, isn't covered so he moves upfield to take on a linebacker (this changes later in the game, and I touch on that point below the gif). The left guard here, Baylen Brown, gets beat to that gap and lead blocker Sadale Foster whiffs on the double team there. The defensive tackle pushes Brown right into Williams and the play ends with Williams being dropped for a 3 yard loss.

You absolutely cannot let the defensive tackle drive the offensive lineman back into the ball carrier. This is just not good. If your offensive linemen are getting beat so badly that the defensive linemen can control where they are going and push them into the ball carrier, it says a few things. One, your offensive linemen are light in the pants. Brown carries good size, so that's probably not it. Two, your offensive linemen just aren't very good technically. And with Brown being a true freshmen that season, this could very well be the case. He was going up a very talented defensive front, but he just didn't seem to do that well on his own. But maybe it was just jitters since this was play number one. But just about any other run play, you can see Kaster chipping the tackle that Brown is assigned before heading to the next level. Doing this, however effective against the defensive line, opens up a linebacker that would have been blocked to slide over into the running lane and make the play.

I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of wrinkles the coaching staff has added to the rushing arsenal for this season. We may get a glimpse at the new power play that Seth has written about that Kingsbury may have adopted from Chip Kelly.