The quasi-rival, quasi-regional, full-fledged opponent of the
years returns with a lot of the game you know Tech will bring....
with a twist.
There's a lot we already know about Tech but what's
changed is the
faces. Several changes in their coach line up and a few
head coach Tommy Tuberville's past will be on display in Lubbock
Many of which will test the Lobos in several facets of their
playbooks, game time IQ and ingenuity.
The first piece that UNM will need to decipher is the Red Raiders
the Lobos' new weaving offense. Where to chisel away...where to
breakthrough.... and to see what to read (and from who) to be
The first breakdown of the Big 12's red headed Raiders will look
defense - an ever changing animal in itself - and what Texas Tech
use to combat the Lobos as they push the ball into the turf of
Stadium (6pm CT; Fox College Sports). Tech plans a
Cotton" theme for this home game: a theme that can't be more
for a Lobo offense looking to pick the opposing front
seven apart and
through it's own personal "Hitmen" thresher.
The term "garden variety" doesn't even begin to sum up the last
meetings defensively, but thankfully I only have to excavate this
squad. Let's begin.
Texas Tech has shown a mix of scheme in their first two games, and
there's ample video on both of their wins at Northwestern State
and Texas State. Consider
the Texas State win a
Cracker Jack box
that keeps on paying out prizes, as we take on the same squad at
home later in
the year. Invaluable footage to take in, chew up and spit out on
field at your own convenience.
Texas Tech has been through four defensive assistant coaches in
each one peeled off of their positions like bananas off a
bunch. The D has
been through four different methods the last four years and the
entire stint of
Tuberville's (former Auburn, former Mississippi) tenure has been
tinkering/firing. The Raiders have run a 4-3, a 3-4, a 4-2-5, and
multiple stack 4-3 with new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman,
off stints at North Carolina, Mississippi and Southern Miss.
Struggles in conference play (and coming in dead last in NCAA run
totals in 11' amazingly) have made this side of the team a squeaky
to whatever oil it's dipped in. This is Tech's Achilles heel and
one of the
biggest hindrances from becoming contenders traditionally.
Tech isn't hurting in raw bodies or returning starters mind you,
but ANOTHER method to their defensive madness could
leave them in
questionable sorts. Hopefully this group hasn’t found their
rightful leader in
time for UNM's match up. Thus far they've had more success against
OOC competition than usual.
Let's breakdown the units.
Compared to the last game at Texas, facing Texas Tech's D-line
might seem a bit
like facing the diet version of your favorite soft drink or the
switch to your favorite beer's light version. Texas Tech has above
talent compared to most Mountain West Conference teams, but
spots are bit more speckled...or at least less covered and coveted
college football media.
This has affected NFL prospect potential too: Out of
top 60 DE and DT preseason prospect lists, the red raiders yield big
zeros in each department. Athlon took Lubbock's own to
cleaners with a 10th Big 12 ranking for this particular
unit with Steele
guessimating them for 6th in the Big 12 matched head to head.
You have to think that facing the sum of the Longhorn's dual
front last week and Tech's speedy but much smaller line will
no? How couldn't it make a difference for the Lobos ground game?
First, don't let me oversell your expectations...this is
still a Big 12
squad with starters in the recruiting top 100 of their respective
have a challenge to keep our technique discipline and they will be
disrupt the flow of the pistol (whoever's under center) with
strength infused speed.
There's a bit of bad news as well, as Texas State has prompted the
front seven with their option offense the previous week. The
concept will be at
least partially rehearsed in theory and principle, but not in
The weekly press conference from Tech's new DC says as much,
though the new
head D man has little to say about it publicly. 28
years of coaching and
10 years of coordinator work (5 as a DC) imparts as much.
the word and more focus on his own squad's execution was all
found at the press grill. Tech will face an option attack
(out of a
version of the pistol) in ALL THREE GAMES SO FAR IN 2012. They
lined all of
these schemes up and should be fairly prepared for us.
Tech's D-line will have only a few upperclassmen, but many
bridging the sophomore to junior gap, gather seasons in the sun
and on the
football field. None of them top over 300lbs and resemble a
line you might see at Oregon or well...non-AQ squads with crafty
JUCO's are being used to fill in the depth chart and some, like
and Lee Adams, at defensive tackle spots. Their DE's are even
and hope to carry the load in conference.
This looks like a positive for the Lobos moving forward and might
find a few
extra opportunities for our RB's to break one in the middle. Like
where this is
going? Add this to the fire:
Mark it down: If UNM finds success in it's run game it will be
because of this
section of the Raider defense. LB is a sore spot for the Raiders
brought in a talented JUCO player in Will Smith. Despite the
unfortunately fluffy, and hilarious rapper moniker...Smith
looks to be the
biggest assist to the Tech line and reinforce a squad that's only
come into it's own this season. He was the top LB in the spring
season at middle linebacker and there's a lot riding on his
Tech lost a lot at linebackers in 2011 and only return their 3rd
tackler...so this is where there's a good place to test them
time goes on (and UNM is surely going to win the time of
regardless) you may find them start to break down so long as the
competitive. Depth at linebacker isn't a glaring issue but it
might be a
glimmer of one in the UNM game. The lobos should definitely get
jiggy with this
Working the 4-3 (with a splash of 4-2-5) for the Texas State game
saw a lot of
rotating over safeties (4-2-5) and OLBs lined up on the D-line to
protecting the edges at the line of scrimmage. Properly read, an
could see a lot of one-on-one match ups, leading to big
potential. That being said: this squad is still quick. Our run
game will have
to make their moves quick and move horizontal before they're cut
Peripheral vision is at a premium for this game. The Lobos need to
ball, turn it up field as far as it will go (and quickly!)
sound blocking that will get defensive players completely
of the way. Without holding and bringing them to the ground,
back will prevent second chances for them to speed
around our blocks
initial contact. We'll have to take it to them.
You could argue that Tech's offense was one of the prime examples
pundits classified "Big 12 offense" in the public's eye. The
number of spreads in this league was rampant at one time and still
healthy today. In order to counter the ones that are left (and the
style offenses with above average receivers) Tech has a
contingent of secondary players available on their roster from the
4-2-5 and otherwise. This might be one of their perpetual
strengths at the
moment. The few scary bits are contained here, though there's
never time to
fear an opponent your looking to beat. Ooo-rah!
Tech has an excellent Strong Safety in Sr. Cody Davis (6-2; 203)
and Davis had
the pleasure of running back a pick-6 in Texas State's opening
drive last week.
He's the projected #8 SS in the draft (Steele) preseason and is
first one that will be lending run support on his side of the
field. He has the
speed to run down RB's on the corners and saved many big
plays when Texas
State saw some openings last week. Strong, fast and effective. He
also led the
team in tackles last season (93).
Though not all of the secondary is at this kind of standard, their
are all seniors and will be sorely missed next year.... or
possibly this year!
They got ripped through the air in conference circa 2011.
Low-balling the impedance
of this unit's potential could see a "nowhere to go but up"
and with the right play action could be catching them sleeping
after a run
heavy scheme. Because of all of these factors they're not looking
but I think they've been down long enough.
Support from the secondary will be a heavy factor for our offense
and our QB will have to keep their eyes active pre-snap when
out their opposing formations. If Tech starts to stack the box,
we'll need to
make them pay. If trends continue it could be beneficial for our
WR's TD stats.
To quote Coach Davie: "We all know what this is..."
The team in front of us is going to try to lay down numbers in
front of us in
formation, on the line of scrimmage, and try to beat our
blocks with their
speed. Disruption will be their best friend and second-in-command.
expect a lot of frills from the Tech defense and our blocking
need to be polished for our RB cuts to reap everything that can be
the Tech's front seven.
Holbrook, Gaustche and McCown have hopefully taken a look at some
outlooks to help their run reads and potential outlet passes down
there's a way to shake up this defense it's with some healthy
misdirection...add in one or two good blocks and we can keep
Tech's offense off
the field and put up some points. Tech only
allowed 129yds rushing (149yds passing) from Texas State's
Without using every combo in our playbook and knocking some heads
process, we'll be playing to their speed.
It's better to be lucky than good, but if we don't get a lot of
luck we'll have
to execute early and often.
Besides, they're not going to guess right all the time and if they
try to cover
all corners, we'll have to test their gaps in their secondary as
Like I mentioned previously, there's no way UNM won't go without
time of possession battle in this game. Whether that's by a block
or a mile is
up to the direction from the QB on Saturday.
The main question will be how Tech will get their own offense
going. Will it be
from short fields? Turnovers? Special Teams? Scores that come
Whether we win this battle by getting their offense off the field
on downs or
Tech getting off the field with quick scores...we'll have lots of
time to run
at them at our disposal. That's a plus for our own defense squad.
More time to
beat them up!
Let's wear the Raider defense like an old pair of shoes and see
where that will
take us. How long until the soles (souls) bottom
out? That's where I
get my anticipation. Go Lobos.