We have to date back to 2013 to find Texas Tech with four wins in the first five games, as in this year, you certainly remember, they won seven in a row to start the season. It was also the last year the Red Raiders appeared in the AP rankings.
Last Saturday, Texas Tech had their fourth victory of the season, as they beat the Jayhawks with an overwhelming 65-19. The star of the game was running back Desmond Nisby, who scored four rushing touchdowns. The last Red Raider to reach that goal was DeAndre Washington in 2015.
Personally speaking, I’m glad both for Desmond himself, who can finally put the awful Arizona State fumble behind him, and for the team, that showed the running game can be a key piece of the gameplan. To give an example of this last statement, Texas Tech ran the ball 52 times -averaging six yards per carry- while recording only 27 pass attempts in the last game.
Someone could say that the easiness of the game led to this. It can be an interpretation, but in Week 1 against Eastern Washington (56-10) the Red Raiders had 35 throws and 40 rushes. In addition, against the Jayhawks in 2016 (55-19), 55 throws and 24 rushes.
OK, I’m talking too much. Let’s go back to the tapes and to Nisby.
I’ll skip the first touchdown, as FOX made an easy explanation right after the play.
The second Nisby’ score is the one I appreciated the most. Let’s see why.
On a 1st & goal, Texas Tech lined up with two receivers on the right (black), one on the left, and two running backs, Nisby (red) and #29 Mason Reed (yellow). Kansas wanted to be aggressive and chose a 6-man pressure.
At the snap, the offensive line and in particular #78 right tackle Terence Steele pushed to their left, trying to open a lane up to the right. Reed did the opposite, motioning to the right and blocking the left defensive end. And then, it was all Nisby, as he hit the hole, dragged the linebacker and scored his second touchdown. That’s how a power back works.
Let’s go to the third touchdown, but analyzing the play before the score. It’s worth giving credit also to the other running back, Justin Stockton, who played a great game, broke his career record for rushing yards in a game -161-, and in that drive took the ball to the Kansas 6-yard line.
Kansas brought pressure with the four defensive linemen, while Texas Tech lined up with quarterback Nic Shimonek three yards behind the center, a running back behind him and another on his side. It’s a pistol formation, created by the legendary coach Chris Ault (did you know that he coached in Italy until 2016?). That’s another example of how much Kliff Kingsbury is expanding his playbook.
The play itself was easy-ish, with the left side of the offensive line (center Paul Stawarz, guard Madison Akamnonu, and tackle Trevor Bruffy, all in blue) moving once again to the left, giving Nisby (red) the time for a nice straight run, while Reed (yellow) helped the right side.
And now to the last touchdown. It seemed like an effortless play, against a tired and depressed defense, but it needed a good amount of discipline to make the Jayhawks totally miss the call.
Kansas didn’t blitz and attacked the o-line with four defensive linemen and the strong-side linebacker (yellow), blocked by #27 Raymond Felton. The motion to the right of Felton and wide receiver Derrick Willies (orange) itself made the defense think about an off-tackle run, and in fact, at the snap, Nisby (red) faked to follow Felton to the right.
Instead, number 32 made a change of direction and ran to the left, where Willies worked perfectly to block two men, allowing his teammate to have his fourth seal on the game.
Maybe coach Kingsbury could use the passing game a little bit more, but my deepest hope is he “hid” his cards against the Jayhawks, in order to put on a show against the Mountaineers.