1. The Setting
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-4, 2-3)
Bad Guys: Texas Longhorns (4-4, 2-3)
When: Saturday, November 5th at 11:00 am
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium; Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: FS1 (FOX Sports Go)
Radio/Stream: 97.3 FM | Affiliates | TuneIn App
2. Uniform Tracker
|Stephen F. Austin||W, 69-17|
|Arizona State||L, 68-55|
|Louisiana Tech||W, 59-45|
|Kansas State||L, 44-38|
|West Virginia||L, 48-17|
3. The Big Storyline
Just a little bit worse. So I really don’t know what to think about Texas. They beat a very good Baylor team at home, but they may have been playing for their head coach’s life. Not literally, but figuratively of course. Charlie Strong has been under fire almost the entire season and much of it stems from how the Longhorns play on the road.
It’s just a little bit worse, each and every time they go on the road. Pretty much no matter the statistic, they’re just not as good. Things can change of course, but let’s take scoring. The defense is giving up 24 points a game at home, but 42 on the road. The offense ends up scoring 38 points at home, but only 34 on the road.
That’s a point differential of +14 points at home and on the road, the Longhorns are -4. Home losses to California by 7, Oklahoma State by 18, Oklahoma by 5 and Kansas State by 4.
UT and Shane Buechele throw for 278 yards at home, but only 242 on the road. The defense gives up 337 yards a game through the air on the road and only 180 at home. The one spot that seems to stay consistent is the play of Da’Onta Foreman, who helps the Texas offense for for 219 yards rushing at home and 234 on the road. It’s a given that Foreman will be unstoppable in some respects and he’s proven to be the most consistent and most talented player on his team. Without question.
I think the keys for Texas Tech will be items that we’ve really discussed all year. And we’re at that point in the year where you really get to define where and what you’ll be. One of the topics discussed in this week’s Emergency Roundtable is whether or not Texas Tech will put a complete game together, both the offense and the defense playing well. I was more pessimistic, mainly because I think that UT’s offense is significantly better than what TCU was throwing out there and although the defense did play better last week, I think part of that was the inconsistency of Kenny Hill. Still, the defense did a terrific job of wrapping up and making plays, something we haven’t seen in quite some time. That’s progress. Even though it probably isn’t happening as quickly as we’d like, it at least happened last week.
The offense, I think, will have to carry this team and this game and I can envision an Oklahoma type of game where the two teams trade touchdown after touchdown and in that case, I very much like Texas Tech’s capability offensively moreso than Texas’ to keep pace. I know the criticisms about Patrick Mahomes, but he’s still one of the best in the nation. The other interesting thing, I think is that I’ve always thought that Kliff Kingsbury is an excellent game-preparation guy. Even going back to when he was coaching at TAMU, I thought his offensive game plan against Alabama that fateful Saturday was what set TAMU apart from the Tide that day. I really do believe that Saturday against TCU was a surprise for Kingsbury and he prides himself on being able to produce no matter the circumstance. Both TCU and West Virginia have given Kingsbury and Mahomes plenty to chew on the past few weeks and I’m betting on Kingsbury having thought of solutions if we see more of that this week. I don’t know that we will, but I would imagine that UT will flood the middle of the field and Kingsbury will have to get creative, most likely taking deep shots with Willies and Cantrell, while working the screen game until those defenders walk down to the line of scrimmage. Having competent blockers like Willies and Cantrell will help that significantly.
4. One Key Stat
Texas is 125th in passing defense efficiency while Texas Tech is 111th overall. Yeah, this could be a really fun 4 and 1/2 hour game.
5. What to Watch on Offense
Texas is in 12 personnel, 1 running back and 2 tight ends with two receivers at or near the numbers, which is standard. There maybe aren’t a ton of teams that Texas Tech will have the opportunity to play with three linebackers, but this is it. The interesting thing about clips from this particular game is how Baylor, who knows this offense better than anyone, defends this offense. Notice that Baylor is running with 4 down linemen, three linebacker, and a walked-up safety on the bottom of the screen, which is the strong side of the formation with a high safety on the weakside of the field. This is key.
Buechele knows that the receiver at the bottom of the screen isn’t going to have any safety help so he just launches this pass into the endzone and it’s a catch and touchdown. Buechele has terrific protection and the play-action to start the play does just enough to freeze the linebackers so Buechele can get off a pass.
This next play, this is also essentially 12 personnel too, but the tight end is lined up as an h-back. Again, notice the receivers and get used to this. Baylor is lined up in a typical 4-3 and the safety is to the strongside of the formation with the other safety at walking up towards the line of scrimmage. That safety at the green line is key.
Whereas the last play was play-action, this is a straight run, and that safety is the last line of defense between D’Onta Foreman running free for a 37 yard touchdown (which he does). That safety bites and gets sucked inside by a very slight, but obviously very effective move by Foreman, who just steps to his left to draw in that safety. Meanwhile, Foreman is about to rumble for a touchdown.
6. What to Watch on Defense
Texas is lined up with four down linemen and there is a fifth guy standing up between the noseguard and defensive end. I tried to catch a play that had at least three receivers and Baylor is running a set very similar to what Texas had just ru, which is that they’ve got a strongside h-back and a running back and they’re running 20 personnel.
This ends up being a play where the the Baylor QB makes the exact same read as the Buechele did, which is to go to the side where there’s no safety help, which is at the bottom of the screen for a touchdown.
This was a nifty play for Baylor. Simple, but nifty. 10 personnel and Texas has one linebacker off the field giving them a 4-2-5 look.
Nothing more complicated than a zone read. That #32 player for Texas is being sucked in by the play-action and the Baylor QB makes the correct read because the defensive end is crashing down. The play is nifty because Baylor lined up trips left, which means that when Russell takes off and runs, there’s nobody on that side of the field really, just one receiver that’s being blocked and Russell darn near takes it into the end zone. The key here is that Texas is very aggressive, I think, and they’ll bite.
Via OddsShark, the line has pretty much held steady, although the line opened very late with Texas favored by 4 points, and was almost immediately dropped to 3.5. Now, the lines are anywhere in-between 3 and 3.5 in Texas’ favor. I think I like Texas Tech here, but just barely. Another barn-burner and close game. At this point, I shouldn’t be optimistic. Last week, I thought TCU would win and it’s amazing how a win can prop up how you feel about a team. Both teams are desperate for that 5th win and some bragging rights.