Last week was like a breath of fresh air for the program. Actually winning a game you should, and doing so by closing out a close game, felt like a turning point for the program. Unfortunately, that positive energy is running into a potential buzz saw in the number 24 ranked Sooners.
First Down: Take some chances
Beating a team like OU will not be done playing conservative. A better defensive team than Tech would struggle to stop this offense. With the secondary Tech fields, there is basically a guarantee the scoreboard will get lit up.
Colombi has shown to be adept at moving the chains and finishing drives. However, he has not been given a chance to attack down the field. For Tech to have any chance, that trend has to change. Beyond the offense and David Yost, every unit needs to be willing to take risks.
Keith Patterson needs to attack the freshman phenom he is scheming against, and Matt Wells needs to be bold. Last week that fourth and eleven decision was the difference between victory and a potential defeat. If Wells and company channel the moxy that fueled that decision, Tech can keep pace with the Sooners.
Second Down: Watch the receivers, not the backfield
Lincoln Riley loves to use window dressing to fool defenses. Playing smart, disciplined defense is how to slow down this attack. The enemy of that is poor eye discipline. For the majority of this season, the secondary has been extremely vulnerable to play-action and gadget plays.
The reason for that is they get caught peaking into the backfield, which is especially troubling considering how good the front of this defense is against the run. It is like the safeties don’t trust the linebackers, the consensus best unit on the defense, to fill up the holes. If OU, a poor rushing team, continues to draw their eyes off the actual receivers running routes into the backfield this will be a long evening in Lubbock.
Third Down: Rattle Rattler
Spencer Rattler might be the one of the best pure passers OU has ever had, which considering the program’s quarterback history would be saying something. That isn’t really an exaggeration, his arm talent is borderline pornographic. Like Wells said, how he can just flick his wrist and spin the ball forever down field from any throwing position is incredible. The problem for him, at least earlier in the season as he has been far better lately, has been protecting the football. The freshman has taken a lot of risks, which has lead to the kind of mistakes a young quarterback always will.
The scary part for Tech is he is coming into his own in the Oklahoma offense. His mistakes are down, and the victories are starting to follow. The key to beating a young quarterback with this kind of arm comes down to pass rush. The best way to neutralize such a cannon of an arm is make him hear footsteps on every play. Rattler has shown good legs, so containing him outside the pocket will also be a challenge. But if the choice is let him take the top off, or scramble for six yard there is a clear superior choice.
Eli Howard and company will need to have their names announced often on ESPN for sacks and hurries if Tech is going to have a chance to stop the Sooner passing attack.
Fourth Down: Quotes of the week
“Well, outside of Lubbock, expectations aren’t very high. But it’s okay, we play in Lubbock a lot this season” - Mike Leach*
“Three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad” -Darrell Royal
“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins” - Ulysses S. Grant
*Yes, using a Leach quote is like salt in the wound but could this be any more apt for Tech football?