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Weekly Conversation: A New Defensive Coordinator With Your Hamburger

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Texas Tech has a new defensive coordinator. Seth and Travis discuss the resignation of Matt Wallerstedt and the promotion of Mike Smith and what that means for the defense.

Apollo 11 Launch, July 16th, 1969
Apollo 11 Launch, July 16th, 1969
NASA

Seth C: Welp. How would you like a defensive coordinator with that hamburger?

Seth C. Ed. Note:  Yesterday was national cheeseburger day, which is why I asked that question. And yes, that means that I actually flubbed the question by asking about a hamburger.

Travis: Wow, what a surprise. I really didn't see this coming so soon. Signs indicated that something might be up when Kingsbury canceled the media availability on Monday afternoon and neither of the coordinators held press-conferences (which is the norm). I'm sure we are going to hear a ton of information in the coming days and there's already all kinds of stuff floating around Twitter, but there's a part of me that just feels bad for the guy and I hope he gets another opportunity somewhere down the road.

As for Kingsbury- I think you can read it one of two ways: Either he's panicking (i.e. Mack Brown firing Manny Diaz) and trying to protect his own reputation, or he really is a no-nonsense guy and demands results. To fire a guy three games into the season is bold if nothing else and we'll see how it plays out. But I can't imagine a move like this not sending shock waves through the locker room and could potentially serve to wake some guys up (looking at you Pete).

Personal feelings aside (and hoping for the best for Wally and his family) I'm not terribly disappointed in the move. After the Arkansas game it was obvious something wasn't working, so we'll see if this makes a difference. With that said, I still hold to my article from Tuesday and hope that someone inside the locker room, someone wearing that Double T on his helmet decides to step up and lead.

How about you? Where you at? (My wife HATES when I say that)

Seth C: Of course, like you, depending on the situation at hand, you hope that whatever happened is going to work out for Wallerstedt as a person.

As far as on the field stuff, depending on when we publish this (I very well could be writing about it on Friday), I'm somewhat theorizing about the idea that if it was about coaching things, I wonder if this had something to do with Wallerstedt not willing to budge on the players he had out on defense. We have to make a few assumptions about what Wallerstedt is in charge of, namely, who is on the field as far as linebackers are concerned and maybe he has the final say on all personnel. I'm not sure.

Anyway, the thing that got me started thinking is that supposedly, Kingsbury is making a change at receiver, starting Dylan Cantrell at the X-receiver spot over Devin Lauderdale or D.J. Polite-Bray. Not only that, but Kingsbury has been pretty open about trying to figure something out. Starting Lauderdale for a game after initially starting Polite-Bray and shuffling around that offensive line prior to the season. In other words, it appears that Kingsbury is pretty intent on putting the best players on the field as much as possible.

The coaches are not putting the players in a position to succeed. I think that's part of the deal. -Seth on the problems with the defense

Now, back to the defense. I've mentioned more than once that it is really bothering me to think that Wallerstedt continues to start Pete Robertson and ask him to do something which he seems ill-equipped to do. I think we have a really poor idea as to what Robertson is as a football player because at 235 or 240, he's being asked to take on 300 tackles to rush the quarterback and then also play the run. Someone is asking him to do something he just can't do. Same thing with Jackson Richards. I think Richards is probably one of the best dudes on the team, but he's being asked to play nose guard, a position where the coaches have said that it's not his best position. Same thing with Demetrious Alston. Wallerstedt and everyone else have said that Alston's best position is not tackle, where he's playing, but defensive end.

This is the thing that has bothered me. It's like asking me to go to court and be this great orator and that's not something that I'm good at doing. I'm just not. I might be okay, but I'd probably have a mudhole stomped in my rear by any decent trial attorney. The same thing appears to apply here.

The coaches are not putting the players in a position to succeed. I think that's part of the deal. The problem for me in making this statement is that I really can't just say that this is all on Wallerstedt because they may all be responsible for making personnel decisions.

What's your prognosis for the rest of the year and do you have any idea as to what think Smith wants to try to do as the defensive coordinator?

Travis: I'm hearing that Nigel Bethel could be a real force when he gets into the rotation (starting next week) which could really provide a boost to the defense overall. Sure, it won't mean that our undersized DL suddenly get anchors, but it could allow the defense to leave the CB's isolated more often and stack more guys in the box.

If nothing else I hope there is a return to fundamentals. It's so disheartening to see guys flailing around and rarely just making a solid hit. With the size differential they'll be facing week in and week out it's imperative to be able to make solo tackles, no matter what position you play. -Travis on getting back to fundamentals

If nothing else I hope there is a return to fundamentals. It's so disheartening to see guys flailing around and rarely just making a solid hit. With the size differential they'll be facing week in and week out it's imperative to be able to make solo tackles, no matter what position you play. I've always been much more of a college football fan vs. the NFL, but as I was watching last week I noticed how different the game is from a defensive perspective. I'm used to watching on Saturdays a guy break through 3 or four tackles and get 6 or 7 additional yards. In the NFL, when a guy gets ready to make a tackle, 9 times out of ten the ball carrier is going down on the spot (unless he is Darren Sproles). I hope that's what Smith can bring- some of that individual toughness that's been lacking. It would be so great to see a 3rd and short and not mentally concede it, hoping that on the new set of downs the defense will get a stop.

I also hear that the players absolutely love Smith, so that's definitely a positive. Other than that I have no idea. What do you think he'll bring?

Seth C: I would absolutely love if there was some more spot-on tackling. I posted this video from Pete Carroll and the Seahawks a few weeks ago about how they teach tackling, like it's this terrific art-form.

We all know that it isn't complicated stuff, but there are sure-fire ways to make sure than an offensive player doesn't get away and good technique can be difficult, but not impossible. And the best thing about this, because I am constantly worried about this, is that it takes the head out of tackling, which should mean fewer injuries. If the players could just get one-half of these techniques half of the time, I think we'd see significant improvement. And truthfully, the technique can be taught without hitting as it's about where the defender needs to be in relation to the offensive player and where to hit. It's nothing more complicated than an offensive player running routes all day. It's the same damn thing.

As far as what Smith will bring, I sure as heck hope that he can bring some of that simplicity that we thought we were getting this year. The defense looks like a hot mess (Fitsum uses this term because his daycare teacher uses this term) and other than one-on-one at the cornerback spots and the play of Keenon Ward, things look pretty shaky all the way around. Someone just has to figure out some consistency in how they go about this.

This doesn't have to be rocket science and it doesn't have to be "that" hard.

I'm going to need some confetti.

Travis: I don't have confetti, but I do have Kenny Powers.

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