Before we completely move on from this past weekend’s contest against the Sam Houston State Bearkats, Micheal_LSRR, Brian DonCarlos, and I look at some key statistics that affected the game. This week, we take a look at the turnovers (and more importantly, the turnover margin), the defensive yardage given up, and the penalties committed by the Red Raiders.
Turnovers & TO Margin
Michael_LSRR – It was great to see us not go into the negative on the turnover margin right out of the gate. My friend Ace would text me the current margin throughout the game, and seeing that +3 come in was a nice feeling. That puts us tied for 5th in the country, so at least we’re ahead of the curve for the time being.
Brian DonCarlos – Well, that +3 in the turnover margin is a welcome change of pace! Mahomes threw only one pick (an overthrow, which washes out the first bad-throw SHSU pick for me), but did an excellent job at notching 4 turnovers through the second half. While I’m not sure you can pin the nature of those 4 turnovers on the Gibbs philosophy, it was certainly comforting to see the defense capitalize on the chances they had to make them. It remains to be seen if the defense can keep this up consistently (I personally think the first pick was lucky), but that Jah’Shawn Johnson forced fumble in particular can give the faithful reason to hope.
MeestahRogers – It was so nice to see Texas Tech win the turnover battle. I saw on Saturday on Twitter that Tech hasn’t forced four turnovers in one game since playing Kansas in 2013, something like 20 games without forcing that many turnovers, and that was far too long. The turnovers weren’t necessarily a product of the new defensive staff, however, it was great that the team was positive in the turnover margin. And there was one more fumble that the defense forced that wasn’t recovered. We’ll see if this kind of performance is sustained or if this was a flash in the pan.
Michael_LSRR – As happy as I was to see that +3, what if that wasn’t the case? Our defense had a hard enough time, and if I remember correctly, a couple of those turnovers came when SHSU had good field position and were still driving. What I’m trying to say is that without those interceptions and fumbles, it could’ve been even worse. It was not fun to see our guys fall off ball carriers time and time again, but I could tell without a doubt that Gibbs shared that frustration.
Brian DonCarlos – Typically, totally yards given up can be a bunk stat, but I’m still uncomfortable with 671 total, with 350 of those being rushing yards. It’s just too much of what we saw last year, which may be knee jerk on my part, given that we knew Gibbs was willing to give up yards. The only problem is that the yards we gave up typically lead to scoring drives, which plays into that “break” part of the “bend but don’t break” defense. Did we start to stop them in the 2nd half? Yes. Is this the first game against a VERY good FCS team? Yes. The jury is so far from out on the Gibbs defense that I feel silly even typing this line. However, I saw a lot of our D-line getting tied up with their blockers, which made the front 7 porous at best. They simply have to do a better job against UTEP, or else everyone better stock up on brown liquor before the 19th. While total yards can be scoffed at, not stopping the run means not stopping the clock, which leaves the defense on the field longer and gives less time for Mahomes to do his thing.
MeestahRogers – I was not shy in saying that Sam Houston State was undersized and outmatched in this game on Friday. I was being a little snarky during the first defensive series as I was texting my brother that we could expect another 4-8 season. During the game (I was at the game), it didn’t feel as balanced as it was (671 total yards, 350 rushing, 321 passing). As Brian said, total yards can be pretty meaningless. Scoring defense is really more important. Those last two touchdowns, while disappointing, were essentially in garbage time. Giving up that many yards to an undersized, while talented, FCS team was disheartening. Nothing in this first game gives me any hope that this defense will be any better with stopping the run and I’m fully expecting to see more teams focus on forcing the Red Raiders to stop the run. I think this will apply a little pressure on the offense to be as efficient as possible to maximize on the little time they’re going to be given once the power running teams relinquish the ball.
Michael_LSRR – The number of penalties was about what I was expecting to see given what we saw last year. I still hold out hope that it will improve, but how we manage to keep getting penalties on special teams? I remember two: illegal block and illegal formation. Four false start penalties at home is a bit worrisome, too.
Brian DonCarlos – I’m currently not too worried about the penalties, given that most of them came later in the game. To me, Tech started to lose a bit of focus in the second half after that pick-6 that pulled them away from SHSU (more 2nd team players, experimentation, etc.). If that killer instinct Kliff kept talking about in the press conference starts to come through, I think the play will more closely mirror what we saw in the first half. We saw mostly mental errors in the second half, so if the team keeps its focus through an entire game, i don’t think penalties will vex Tech as much as they did in 2014.
MeestahRogers – As the game was progressing, it seemed the team had improved in this aspect of the game. The penalties seemed to pile up and snowball there later in the game when the team seemed to lose focus. This can be chalked up to first game gaffes. The penalties were a mixed bag of mental lapses, momentum killers and big play negators. I would have felt better if they were more like false starts or some kind of minor procedural penalties (like formations, etc.). As has been previously said, this is about where the team was last year in terms of committing penalties, so we’ll see if the team continues where they left off or if this was more of a first game issue.
Let us know your thoughts on these stats and how you see this team going forward.