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The Spotlight: Houston’s offensive line

Each week I will take a close look at one matchup the Red Raiders will need to exploit to triumph over their foe.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We will have a much more detailed preview of the Houston Cougars coming at you guys in the coming days. But the thing about previews is they have to, by definition, touch on everything. And in order to do that, sometimes the piece loses some of the details.

So each week I will dive into the opposition, finding the one matchup Tech must see success in to best secure victory.

This week with the Cougars coming to town the answer is obvious; the Houston offensive line.

Last week the Red Raiders annihilated the Murray State offensive line. Other than the screen/quick passing game I am not sure the poor Murray State QBs even had time to take a breath before someone was in their face. Most impressive was the work of Philp Blidi, who just straight up trucked anyone in his way as he recorded 2 sacks and a whole mess of pressures. The interior line overshadowed the edge pressure of Tyree Wilson, who we all know is the most talented pass rusher on the team. Wilson still managed to record several tackles and half a sack because he is just a beast despite how fast the interior caved in the pocket.

Obviously, Houston’s offensive line is far superior to the Racers’. They are bigger, and stronger. But, they just are not good. I don’t believe in mincing words, so I won’t. They may be the worst offensive line left on Tech’s schedule.

Everyone knew coming in the biggest thing the Cougars had to improve upon was the line play after last season’s dreadful effort, and while it was just game one results are not good.

Clayton Tune, a very mobile shifty quarterback mind you, was pressured throughout the game and sacked 3 times. But even worse, despite Tune accounting for 51 (!) yards of his own on the ground, the Cougars failed to reached 150 yards on the night and none of the backs averaged more than 3.3ypc.

I can tell you, when a coach is grading his line 4.0ypc is the easiest metric for a good effort versus a bad one. I believe UTSA has a strong, physical team, but the Red Raiders are another order of magnitude above them.

Prediction: Tech will record at least 3 sacks, and Houston will average less than 3.5 yards per carry.

I expect Tech will punk the Houston line. Tune will be running for his life, while his backs run into brick wall after brick wall.

Am I maybe overestimating Tech’s defensive line? Consider last year, when the group recorded 4 sacks total against SFA and FIU. They did that in one game, and frankly it could have been more if the dogs had not been called off about midway through the 3rd quarter. Yes, Murray State is middle tier FCS team but that was the most dominant line performance I have seen in the last decade+ of Tech football.

But why is this matchup the one to watch the closest?

We all saw the weakness of the Texas Tech defense last Saturday, the secondary. I want to believe with a game under their belt and the film that comes with it they will take a step forward. But the group I was maybe highest on in preseason looks like the group that could let this squad down.

So, how do you deal with a weak secondary? You pressure the ever loving hell out of the quarterback. Tune is mobile, with a plus arm and enough accuracy to get the job done. The linebackers will have to contain him and the secondary is going to have to be better.

But, if Tech wins at the point of attack early and often this will be a capital B Beatdown. Murray State was able to attack the vulnerable secondary when their QB was not getting murdered, Tech won’t get quite the same results but they need to put the fear of God into Mr. Tune.

And I think they will.