The Death Of the Air-Raid?
Unpopular opinion alert! I despise the air-raid style offense. While it may be incredibly fun to watch an offense capable of flipping the field at any time, does it really produce results? By results I mean wins, not prolific passing numbers, wins. I’m probably the most old-school 25 year-old on the face of the planet. I would much rather watch a team run the ball, control the clock, and play good defense. Think Stanford, Wisconsin, or Michigan State. They may not win in the most sexy of ways, but these are teams that are still getting it done with old-school ground and pound football.
Why Would Kliff Kingsbury Kill the Air-Raid?
Coach Kingsbury said a few things at Big 12 Media Day that lead me to believe he may lean on the running game this season more than he has done so in the past.
First, he was asked about the running back position in the Big 12:
Q. Six of the eight leading rushers from a year ago are returning this year. What does the landscape of the running back position look like in the Big 12 this year?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: There are some talented, young players. Montgomery there at Iowa State is as good as you will see in the country. I’ve been impressed with him since his freshman year and there’s a handful of others who can play for anybody and with the zone coverages and teams dropping everybody out and playing the dime defenses, teams are going to be leaning on running backs more and more and you’re going to see productive years from those guys.
Later in the presser, he was asked about a potential change in offensive philosophy:
Q. Did the success of dying defenses last year from Iowa State and Texas lead you guys to consider any changes in your offensive philosophies? Always been a team that threw the ball and more and more Big 12 teams are flooding the field with DBs. What are your thoughts?
KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think everybody is trying to find answers for that new scheme that’s being run in the Big 12 by different people. I think it’s been an offense coming for a long time and defense are slowing down the game, eliminating drives, keeping things in front of them so I think you can see a cyclical friend in our league of trying to run the football more, more tight ends, fullbacks coming up with answers to off-set what they’re doing defensively.
Here is the full press conference in written and video form:
Do these answers mean the air-raid is dead in the city of Lubbock?
Absolutely not. But what I think is happening here, is that Coach Kingsbury understands what he has in his defense this year and will lean on the running game to control the clock in certain situations.
Running Back Talent
Texas Tech’s depth at running back is arguably as deep as it has been in some time. Da’Leon Ward was just named to the Doak Walker Award watch list.
Ward had a promising first year in Lubbock, and looks to rebound this season after redshirting last year due to academic issues.
Honestly, this selection surprised me, not because Texas Tech running back was named to an award list, but because I was under the impression that Tre King would be getting a majority of the touches this season.
Lastly, I’m excited to see what Freshman running back Ta’Zhawn Henry can bring to the table. Here are some high school highlights of Henry:
Between Ward, King, and Henry, expect to see whoever suits up at quarterback to hand the ball of to these guys.
Expect Coach Kingsbury to shake up the offense this year.
No, the air-raid is not a thing of the past. But based on the aforementioned points, I think Kliff Kingsbury would be foolish not to lean on the strengths of this team. We have watched this team fail to close games in the fourth quarter in the past. A running game paired with a possibly the best defense Texas Tech has had in over a decade is the solution.