Seven Points: Sam Houston State vs. Texas Tech

A seven point (yes, the photos is just six, but roll with it) look at the match-up between Sam Houston State and Texas Tech.

Point 1: Key Player

Player Vital Information
Name: Rika Levi
Height/Weight: 6-2/339
Classification: Senior
Key Stats: 18 tackles, 1.5 TFL and 0.5 sacks

This is going to be a tone-setter, isn’t it? We’re all sorta hoping and praying that things work out okay, but it seems to me that Levi can set the tone really early and we can have a completely different attitude about the look of this team after Saturday. And when I say completely different look, I mean that you might move from slightly encouraged to utterly depressed. I’d rather be slightly encouraged, the idea of stopping the run against an FCS team that runs the ball well could, theoretically, be a pretty good sign. Levi let his weight absolutely become an issue, and the problematic part was that it was seemingly encouraged by Matt Wallerstedt, almost bragging how Levi weighed 367 or whatever it was. That’s not healthy nor productive at most heights, especially at 6’2″. But we have a slimmed down version of Levi. My hope isn’t that he does much of anything other than occupy two offensive linemen on the inside.

Point 2: Uniform Tracker

I enjoyed this last year, so we’ll keep it up. Here are last year’s results:

Uniform Tracker
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result
Central Arkansas W, 42-35
UTEP W, 42-35
Arkansas L, 49-28
Oklahoma State ** L, 45-35
Kansas State L, 45-13
West Virginia L, 37-34
Kansas W, 34-21
TCU L, 82-27
Texas*** L, 34-13
Oklahoma**** L, 42-30
Iowa State W, 34-31
Baylor L, 46-48

Point 3: Keys to the Game

I don’t think we’re going to get all that deep here this week. It’s really about simplicity more than anything else and doing the things that have been preached all spring and fall. I think this fanbase would rejoice to see half a dozen penalties or less, a team that looks disciplined, and maybe a team that looks like they’re on a business trip, despite playing at home (hat-tip to PFTCommenter). SHSU plays a similar offense and an attacking defense. They do really well at it at the FCS level, but the offense shouldn’t be anything new, other than Jared Johnson likes to run a bit more, as well as a team that likes to run more.

Point 4: Texas Tech Offense vs. Sam Houston State Defense

Texas Tech Offense vs. Sam Houston State Defense: Yards

Texas Tech Offense vs. Sam Houston State Defense: Conversion

Texas Tech Offense vs. Sam Houston Defense: Points

These numbers are a bit skewed because of SHSU’s affiliation with FCS, but you still get a pretty good idea how good they are at what they do. The bottom line is that SHSU wasn’t great at stopping the pass or the run. They were great at creating negative plays and they did a heck of job doing that. I’d also add that the speed of the offense probably creates a negative impression of the defense, much like Texas Tech. The pure volume of playsOh, and get in that redzone and it’s looking pretty good on our end.

I should also add that some people scoff at the idea of using average yards per game as a poor metric for understanding how a team works. Whether or not they’re successful or efficient or whatever. I almost had these previews all but done and was using a yards per play basis and after thinking about it, I thought that it didn’t give a complete picture as to what the offense or defense was, or was not. Average yards and points isn’t perfect, but I still find it incredibly useful, even on a cursory basis. I can glance at this and know what I’m looking at and digest it pretty quickly. This probably makes me the antithesis of sports analytics, but I’m fine letting the heavy-weights crunch the numbers.

Point 5: Texas Tech Defense vs. Sam Houston State Offense

Texas Tech Defense vs. Sam Houston State Offense: Yards

Texas Tech Defense vs. Sam Houston State Offense: Conversion

Texas Tech Defense vs. Sam Houston State Offense: Points

Havoc Rate

These are, obviously, last year’s numbers and it doesn’t look good for Texas Tech, especially in terms of yards per play and the percentages of 3rd and 4th downs and the redzone are discouraging. There’s going to have to be a lot of improvement for Texas Tech to take the next step.

Point 6: Look at the Sam Houston State Offense

I’ve talked a bit about how Sam Houston State utilizes a lot of screens and the legs of Jared Johnson. So, let’s take a look at the Bearcat offense. In this place, it’s 3rd and 3 and as you can see, the receivers that are in the camera run to the marker, except for the running back out of the back field. Johnson actually ends up running for 20 yards on this play as the pocket collapses. From my end, he makes the correct read here.

On this second play, it’s first down and SHSU goes to their bread-and-butter, which is a screen out of the backfield. This a bit of a fake, but Johnson doesn’t hold onto the fake that long. Lots of blockers set up here.

The previous play gained 4 yards, so it’s 2nd and 6 and SHSU goes back to the well, running another screen play, but to the right side of the field.

I wanted to show a bit of how SHSU runs the ball, which is out of the zone read out of a shotgun formation. Nothing out of the ordinary, but notice the push on Eastern Washington. Also, with Johnson, he can run and that’s a pretty serious threat. He actually does hand the ball off here and I don’t know if that’s the right read as that defensive end looks like he’s focusing on the running back, but there’s a linebacker there to pick up the pieces.

This is where the offense tends to fall apart. Johnson throws a screen pass here and it’s 3 feet above the receiver. Johnson is not the best passer, at least he wasn’t last year. As you can tell, there was no pressure or anyone around the quarterback or receiver, just a bad throw.

Point 7: Look at the Sam Houston State Defense

We get an early look at what SHSU does on defense. On this particular play, everything looks like it’s setting up just fine. It’s 2nd and 9, but the Bearcats are rushing 5 and EWU is holding up pretty nice, but eventually the pocket breaks down. Texas Tech is going to have to keep that pocket clean because with SHSU rushing five, there’s someone open. Adams throws deep on this play (I think) but the receiver misses.

I’m using this play to show how SHSU and P.J. Hall just runs up the field. That’s his goal, to pressure that spot. Also note that SHSU is rushing five, again, with the linebacker on a delayed rush.

With this screen cap, it’s just to emphasize that they will rush the heck out of you. All five of those guys are rushing . . . again.

With the ends running up the side, there is a real problem with containment here and Adams ends up making a spectacular run, breaking some tackles and running for a pretty big gain. The pocket will break down and there will be opportunities.

One last play to emphasize the ends. They’re up field (which is really just fine because they make a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage) and Adams hands the ball off and the running back finds his way for a big gain. If the interior blockers can carve out some space for Texas Tech, it could be a huge day for DeAndre & Co.


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