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Dormant defenses don’t win championships

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Texas stunt!

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl season has never seemed so far away. With three games left for this season, two of those are needed to give the Red Raiders the possibility of going bowling. One, we’re all hoping, can come in Arlington this weekend against a riddled Baylor team. Despite their convincing victory over Kansas, this is still a football program that has a lot of unanswered questions going forward.

A second win will take a lot more than hope. On the one hand, we could handle TCU at home and get a huge upset at the Jones. On the other hand, we could end our regular-season play in Austin with a win against a team that most definitely isn’t “back” - at least not this season. The main issue within winning those games is, surprise, our ability to shut down the opponent’s offense. For the purposes of this article we’re going to leave the discussion of offensive potency for a later date.

NCAA Football: Eastern Washington at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

“All you’re going to do is speed up the process of the other team scoring...”

From Coach Gibbs presser after the TCU game in 2015, he was prompted to explain why he had let TCU convert a 3rd and 23 situation. A conversion that ultimately got the horned frogs points going into halftime. Gibbs’ response attacked the belief that blitzing is an effective choice in those situations. He called it an “overreaction,” and “panic” to want to initiate a zero-blitz on plays like that.

What...?

Here’s my opinion so we can all have a clear idea of where this article is going: a defense’s purpose is to make the quarterback’s life a living hell from his first snap to his last. I’m not talking about poking his eyes, twisting his ankle, or trying to emotionally destabilize him - I’m talking about putting a hand on him every play. One thing that Tech’s defense has been incredibly lax on is the amount of blitzes it calls especially in 3rd and long situations. Coach Gibbs’ specialty lays with the defensive backs, so I understand a tendency to prefer coverage over blitzes. Let’s just look at this illustratively though:

It’s third and thirty: you decide to call a preventative play where your backs fall into a zone. The QB is nervous about the reality of the situation he’s in and snaps the ball. The offensive line is able to hold off your three man pass rush and gives the QB time to make his reads. Your defensive backs are doing good to cover, but because nothing is sustainable for that long in football - somebody gets open and the QB makes the throw downfield for an insane first down. Demoralizing for the defense, demoralizing for the fans, and a real momentum boost for the opponent’s offense.

Not ideal. Let’s try another one:

It’s third and twenty-something: knowing the yardage needed to the first down, you allow your safety duo to cover everything overhead. Up front though your corners are in a man defense, and your linebackers look like they’re in zone. The QB is nervous about the reality of the situation he’s in and snaps the ball. SURPRISE, the linebacker’s aren’t in zone: they’re blitzing and simple math says 7 > 5 so the QB knows that someone is getting through. His reads become expedited, the pressure to convert coupled with the pressure of the blitz causes him to roll out (IF he hasn’t been sacked yet). You’ve now put all the responsibility of the game on the QB to make an incredible play. If he’s an absolute athlete and does, good for him. If not?... hey hey hey.

It doesn’t have to be successful every time, but thinking it can be is more than enough

Obviously if blitzing was the answer to winning games, every team would call blitzes every play. There are exceptions. Yet the fact remains that blitzing gets under the quarterback’s skin, the offensive line’s skin, and the head coach’s skin. It’s a wild card. Remember the iconic quote by the Joker, “nobody panics when everything goes according to the plan”? This applies especially to football. With the teams we have left (Baylor, TCU, Texas), we could afford to get a little crazy. Coach Gibbs is right, blitzes might help speed up the process of the other team scoring - but our defensive methodology right now doesn’t exactly prove to stop proficient offenses either. So I’m all in for the risk of the blitz - fail giving 100% instead of sitting back and letting the offense do their job unhindered.

What do you think?

Poll

Should the defense call more blitzes?

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    Yes (I like winning)
    (109 votes)
  • 8%
    No (I like losing)
    (10 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now