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THE FILM ROOM PREVIEWS: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

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Please play some defense this week. We’re going to need it.

Let’s all take one deep breath in. Now, one deep breath out.

The loss to Arizona State is behind us. There’s no point in ranting and raving at it after the fact. If we, the fans, are this frustrated, imagine how the people who actually played the game feel. They’re probably insanely embarrassed, because last weekend didn’t go so hot, to say the least.

Fortunately, every week is a new week, and our defense has another shot at righting the ship before conference play starts. Louisiana Tech is no joke. They took Arkansas down to the wire, and blew out South Carolina State. If you’re expecting this week to be a cakewalk win for Texas Tech, cool your jets.

Before we get into some #analysis, let’s crank some tunes. (Editor’s note: All songs that originally have NSFW lyrics will have NSFW lyrics.)

PLAYLIST:

FIRST GLANCE:

Louisiana Tech definitely has some good defensive backs. They’re going to put some pressure on our receivers, who have some ground to make up after disappearing in the second half against Arizona State. The good news about the Louisiana Tech defense is that I think they’re a little vulnerable on the ground. Make no mistakes though, this defense is pretty solid. Texas Tech still gets their points, but it won’t always come easy.

On the offensive side of the ball, I’m really impressed by WR Trent Taylor. He’s averaging 128 yards receiving per game, and he has three touchdowns to go along with his contributions in yardage output. After the game our defensive backs had last week, it would make all of us a lot happier if we could hold him down for most of the game. One area we need to be careful in is the quarterback game. LA Tech started J’Mar Smith against Arkansas, a dual threat guy who can be a real problem for a team like us to defend. The quarterback who started last week, Ryan Higgins, has some wheels on him too, but he’s not as fast as Smith.

OFFENSE:

Louisiana Tech likes to spread it out all over the field and hurt you up the seams. Their route trees are very similar to Texas Tech’s in the way that they like to use Trent Taylor. They’ll send that kid on so many quick hit routes that it isn’t funny. Last week, we got dimed to death in the midfield, bending, then broken by Kalen Ballage in the red zone. If we go into this game with the exact same strategy, Louisiana Tech could have a field day. I think our defensive line is better than their offensive line, so we should be able to get pressure on whoever lines up at quarterback without blitzing. The linebackers and corners will need to be much more active in coverage than they were last week.

DEFENSE:

On defense, Louisiana Tech runs a 4-3, and I actually think we’ll see a 4-3 as opposed to a nickel or dime defense. It seems like they want to get as much pressure as possible, sometimes bringing linebackers down into a three-point stance to rush off the edge. They also play their safeties so close to the line of scrimmage after a man motions that they become vulnerable. The Louisiana Tech defense is good, but like I said earlier, we’re going to get our points. Keon Hatcher of Arkansas tuned them up with 86 yards receiving two weeks ago. We have multiple receivers of that caliber.

WHY I’M WORRIED:

Last week it didn’t seem like we covered anyone well, or reacted well to anything Arizona State did. If that doesn’t change, Trent Taylor is going to eat us alive. The Louisiana Tech running back isn’t bad either. The Bulldogs have the capability to score enough points to remain in this game.

WHY I’M NOT WORRIED:

The Bulldogs are vulnerable in the secondary and along the offensive line. If we can generate pressure off the edges, we’ll be more than fine. The offense is going to do their thing. The defense is going to get a chance to rebound against a team that doesn’t have a 6’2 230 pound running back who shares time in the backfield, limiting his touches and keeping him fresh.

DEEP CUTS:

Let’s start with the Louisiana Tech offense, and exactly how Trent Taylor can be effective on Saturday.

This one’s the easiest read in the book. The linebacker takes the man in motion, and the safety never has a chance. If he covers deep, Taylor stops under. If he forces under, Taylor has enough room to shake him and go deep. Trent Taylor is lethal in these types of situations, and the Bulldogs love getting him the ball here. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s not special, it’s just something they do very, very well. It would help if the Razorbacks used the full 11 defenders on this play, but I’m not a defensive coordinator, what the hell do I know. In a non-joking manner, the Bulldogs used this play effectively all day agains the Razorbacks.

The problem with this is that sometimes the Bulldogs can force things. Forcing things is never good.

The LA Tech quarterback completely missed his checkdown in the flat, and every single other receiver was bottled up. If Texas Tech is to win, we need coverage like this in the seams every time. The Bulldogs must’ve really seen something in film they liked with the seam routes, or just really like seam routes in general.

Keenon Ward and Jah’Shawn Jackson are very aggressive safeties. If they’re to cover this well, they’re going to need to be patient this week. I have faith that our linebackers and corners can snap out of it this week, but they’re still going to need help over the top if they’re going to bottle up this offense.

Do you still have nightmares of Kalen Ballage? Well guess what! When Louisiana Tech runs the ball, it looks very similar to that play Arizona State scored on like 6 or 7 times!

Louisiana Tech is going to pull their tackle instead of a guard, which should confuse our linebackers even more. I don’t profess to know how Texas Tech linebackers function in depth, but one of the key tenets of good linebacking is to read the guard. Pulling the tackle instead of the guard is a cheeky little move that’s sure to confuse lots of people down the road. This is a difficult play to diagnose, and if run well, will lead to lots of yards gained.

On defense, Louisiana Tech seems to be vulnerable to crossing routes, and basically anything that can try and confuse defenders.

The Arkansas quarterback misses this read, obviously. The ball should’ve gone to the tight end going left, as the safety covering him got caught in the depth the linebackers pushed to cover the middle of the field. Despite missing the read, this ball somehow threads the needle.

Thankfully, Patrick Mahomes is really good at reading defenses. If the crossing routes do this to Louisiana Tech’s linebackers, I foresee Ian Sadler and Jonathan Giles doing a lot of damage on Saturday. This is an area that we’re going to be able to hit a lot if the Bulldogs don’t change their ways.

Y’all remember that play against TCU last year, the one where Mahomes kinda rolled out to the right, turned, then hit Stockton on the opposite side of the field? That worked because the instant Mahomes started rolling out, several TCU defender’s eyes went to him and not to Stockton.

It’s the same for Louisiana Tech on this play. The rollout gets their attention just enough to where the Arkansas TE gets open in the end zone. #45 knows it, too. The Arkansas TE is running practically right at him, if he’s not looking at the quarterback this play is dead in the water. What we have here is a slight twinge of not playing disciplined, and no one gets burned harder than people who don’t play fundamental against Texas Tech. This defense is beatable.

THE VERDICT:

Everything in my gut wants to say that this is a blowout in Texas Tech’s favor. Everything I saw last week, the tangible evidence, is telling me that it’ll be closer than we think. As the season progresses I’ll become less and less homerish, but I’m going to come out and say that Texas Tech wins by a comfortable margin. The Red Raiders will have the home crowd advantage, it’s Celebrate Cotton weekend, and they’re playing a defense that has some serious chinks in their armor. If they can slow down the Louisiana Tech offense, this won’t be a game. I’ll temper my homerism to the evidence, but something tells me we right the ship this weekend. Maybe it’s hope. Maybe it’s blind hope. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right. We’ll just have to wait and see.

SCORE PREDICTION:

Texas Tech: 48

Louisiana Tech: 31