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Matador Mailbag: Assessing the team after Eastern Washington

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Defense, crowd size, Land-Raid and more

Nikopoia

No matter if you think it’s a no win scenario playing an FCS team or you think it’s a good warm-up for an opener, Texas Tech surprised a lot of people from everyday fans to national pundits. Because of that, there are a ton of questions in this week’s mailbag so let’s get to it.

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

It was definitely light. 54,000+ may have been the paid attendance, but it sure didn’t seem like that many in the stands. Not to mention, those who were there started their exodus in the 3rd quarter. Whether it was because it was a blowout or 90+ degree heat, it doesn’t send a good message to prospective recruits or the team. We only get six home games a year and for a city of 200k+ population and a student body north of 33,000... it shouldn’t be this hard to sell out the opener. Sadly this has been the norm for Texas Tech at least to when I was a student there. It needs to change. Very hard to sell the program to a recruit during an official visit when the stadium is only 34 full against a ranked, undefeated opponent (see 2016 West Virginia and 2015 Ok State).

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

I think Nisby will be used based on the situation. I think the best thing we have going is the change of pace between Justin Stockton and Desmond Nisby. You want him to be fresh, especially late in the game when either trying to put an opponent away or make a comeback. Imagine Nisby in last year’s Texas game when we had trouble converting on 3rd and short and in the Red Zone. To have Nisby fresh in the second half may decimate a tiring defensive line and give a huge boost of momentum to the offense. Like-wise, it gives Stockton a rest in situations that will also let me be more explosive later in games. But yes... feed that man the rock in short down and distance situations.

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

Though you are correct about a better team won’t be dropping passes or missing receivers that much, I think this was more a symptom of the first game in the season and settling into the first game of the season. Whether it was scheme oriented or just tentative play, once the defense settled in it was a much more accurate picture of what this defense is capable of and what the coaching staff has been alluding to throughout spring and fall camp.

Arizona State obviously will be much more of a test, but coming off a bye week expect the defense to look like they did in 2nd half from the get go.

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

While patience does have merit in this situation, I’ve seen a lot of fans saying this who didn’t think that Saturday would go the way it did and don’t expect it to continue against Arizona State. Against an FCS opponent, domination doesn’t signify anything and struggling is definitely how the season is going to go, what’s the alternative? That’s what you’re supposed to do against an FCS team. And just wait... if Tech has a similar victory over the Sun Devils, or a victory period, look for some fans to immediately mention that they aren’t that good and almost lost to New Mexico State. I choose to be optimistic and excited, because again, it’s better than the alternative.

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

As the Oracle said in the Matrix... “As long as it can”

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

I think several factors contributed to this. 1) The second year under Rusty Whitt. Our players are bigger, stronger and faster than they have been in a long time. 2) The number of highly rated JUCO players and recruits on defense have dramatically changed the culture of the defense. These guys are attacking downhill rather than on their heels waiting for the ball carrier to dictate contact. It’s a great change and one hopefully the defense can continue against better opponents.

Mailbag time! Ask questions in the comments after Tech's dominating 56-10 win over Eastern Wash and what it means going forward! #WreckEm

Posted by Viva The Matadors on Saturday, September 2, 2017

The run game came easy when DeAndre Washington was here. He could make things happen between the tackles and break it for a long game. He was a work horse. Kingsbury had so much confidence in Washington that even when it was slow going, he knew eventually it DeAndre would break it loose. Last year, it was different. Stockton was a change of pace back the year before and didn’t do a whole lot to his skill set to be the feature back. Not to mention a poor push for the o-line up front. So anytime the run-game stalled or struggled, Kingsbury shied away from it. Hence his talk all off-season that he needed to do a better job of sticking with it and getting his backs touches.

Enter this year, where all reports seemed to indicate that Stockton had really improved and would be the feature back after Ward was out most of Fall camp due to academic issues. And the 25 year old, JUCO transfer in Desmond Nisby whose skill set demands touches in-between the tackles. Now will we see 40 carries a game? Probably not. But you will see it featured more in short yardage situations and in the red zone... areas where Tech has struggled under Kingsbury to either convert or score TDs with consistency.

I’m just glad we won. How horrible would that have been? “Earned” it back only to lose the opener. It’s a lot of team building and hopefully, whatever the purpose of it was has a long lasting impact on this group.

A bit of both? Do I think Eastern Washington is as good as last year? No. But Tech is deep on offense and has been plug and play since the modern era of the Air Raid at Tech. I think Eastern Washington was already defeated and gave up, but I would give our 3rd team offense a chance to put up points on anyone, even if they started the game.

It’s an almost unbeatable route against man coverage. Push hard up the field; Corner doesn’t want to get beat deep, especially with no help over-top; WR breaks off for an easy completion. You see that route in the red zone by a lot of teams including Tech. The risk is the defense shows man but is really in zone, as on the Willie Sykes INT, and it goes bad. The risk for the defense in man is if they jump the route, and the WR goes deep for an easy TD. Just cat and mouse that usually works itself out based on situation.

I think we saw on Saturday that Kingsbury is going to have to rely on the run game slightly more to set up play-action and protect Shimonek. It’s no secret that Shimonek isn’t as mobile as Patrick Mahomes and because of that, he can’t rely on a straight drop against a blitz, as we saw on the sacks early in the game. He’s mentioned all spring and fall that he wants to get more touches to his backs and he has a good complement with Stockton and Nisby. With these two getting the bulk of the carries, it may help freeze linebackers for moment and give Shimonek the time he needs to get through his reads. So.. I guess a bit of both.


That’s it for this week. Apologies if your question wasn’t answered, but come back next time and we’ll see what we can do.