1. The Setting
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (0-0, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (0-0, 0-0)
When: Saturday, September 3rd at 7:00 pm
Where: Jones AT&T Stadium; Lubbock, Texas
TV/Stream: FSN Affiliates (FOX Sports Go)
Suddenlink (Lubbock) – Channel 281
Time Warner (Dallas) – Channel 906
Charter Communications (Fort Worth) – Channel 300
Charter Communications (Dallas/Park Cities) – Channel 184
DirecTV – Channel 677 (677-1 HD)
Dish Network – Channel 440 (9575 HD)
AT&T U-Verse – Channel 756 (1756 HD)
Verizon Fios – Channel 77 (577 HD)
FSGO Go to Sept 3 date scroll down to 7pm time slot select SFAvTTU may not be free depending on provider
2. Uniform Tracker
This is something that I just can’t get rid of. For whatever reason, I like tracking the uniforms. This is the uniforms from last year.
|Sam Houston State||W, 59-45|
|Iowa State||W, 66-31|
|Oklahoma State||L, 70-53|
|West Virginia||L, 31-28|
|Kansas State||W, 59-44|
3. The Big Storyline
Here we are. Finally. This offseason felt like the one from a couple of years ago, where it was too short (I didn’t even finish my preseason previews of each team) and it’s probably because baseball was distracting me with that College World Series stuff. I’ll take that each and every year.
For me, the big storyline of the year and that I, and I think lots of other people, aren’t sure what to make of Texas Tech this year. Texas Tech was picked to finish anywhere between 7th and 2nd and that’s an incredibly wide range to consider. The Big 12 media members, picked Texas Tech to finish 6th overall and I would think that most fans think that this is a likely scenario.
I’m confused too, but more so because of my loyalty to Texas Tech. We’ve heard head coach Kliff Kingsbury discuss all spring and summer about how he thinks the defense is looking good and Kingsbury is usually more reserved than most about those sorts of things. My heart tells me to believe, but my head is telling me that these sorts of reclamation projects, especially for defenses, take at least one year. It’s not very common that my lack of faith is going to be rewarded, but I hope that it is. And that’s not to say that I think the defense is going to be terrible, I do think there will be improvement and I do think that overall, the front seven is going to look much better than last year.
Offensively, I think it’s easy to believe that the offense is going to be better and there will be improvement. I think that Patrick Mahomes will improve on his turnovers (more on that in a second) and that alone will make the offense even better.
4. One Key Stat
Like every year, turnovers are a huge part of the key to a successful season and it’s the one area that I think Patrick Mahomes needs to improve upon. Of Mahomes’ 15 interceptions, 12 of them came against teams that had a winning record, 14 of them came against power five teams and 14 of them came in the month of October. Of those interceptions, 6 of them came on first down, which is a stat that makes you want to check to make sure that’s accurated, but it is. And Mahomes had his worst game, 4 interceptions to just 1 touchdown against the one team where he was going to have to carry the team, against the Sooners, and that has to be better.
5. What to Watch on Offense
Last year, I tried to profile how teams had their offenses and defenses and it seems that we’ve reached a time period where everyone in the conference runs something similar to the spread offense. Everyone has their own variation, but ultimately, most teams are doing similar things. So, I’ll do a couple of these screenshots just so you can get a feel of things and then talk about individual players.
This first shot is typical personnel for SFA. They typically have a 10 personnel (1 running back, 0 tight ends) on the field, the offensive line is pretty standard in terms of their alignment and the receivers aren’t spread out too wide, just one receiver outside the hashmarks.
SFA will run guys in motion, that’s what’s happening at the bottom right of the screen, the motion determines if the defense is in man coverage and SFA will then run quite a bit of zone read because QB Zach Conque is pretty fast for his size and seems to have pretty good running ability.
Generally speaking, the SFA offense is going to key off of Conque and how he goes, so goes the SFA offense. Last year, he wasn’t necessarily explosive or necessarily great, but I think he was injured for part of that time. Fully healthy and with a bit more experience, Conque will be just fine. SFA does have speed at receiver and they have a handful of guys that can play.
SFA doesn’t have just small speedy guys at receiver. They are bigger guys that have speed as well. Aaron Piper is the smallest of the bunch (5-9/186) but Robert Sylvester, Justice Liggins and Ruffin De’Quann are all over 6’0″. We’ve talked about how Ruffin is a fantastic deep threat, Conque just hasn’t gotten him the ball a bunch, but they all have some skill. The SFA running backs are pretty typical spread guys, both Joshawa West (5-10/194) and Loren Easly (5-11/205) both fit the mold of what you might think of a spread running back. One last thing to keep in mind is that Conque rushed for yearly 700 yards, but lost 190 to sacks and that probably says more about him than anything else.
6. What to Watch on Defense
Not sure who the opponent is, but it’s one of the teams on the regular schedule, not TCU. In any event, most of the time in looking at film, SFA was playing a zone defense, your typical 4-2-5 look for a team that’s covering 4-wide. I would expect that you’ll see a ton of zone from SFA, try your best not to get beat deep, keep everything in front of you.
This is against TCU and it’s much of the same. TCU has really spread out SFA and that makes it a bit more difficult, but again, they want to keep everything in front of them. It is interesting to see the one defensive back, third one from the top, looking to jump that route so early. I’d expect that SFA plays a bunch of 2 linebacker sets against Texas Tech
The defensive line is incredibly green, but the defensive ends are decent. And if the Lumberjacks do run with two linebackers, expect Price Miller, George Stone, III, and Chance Barney to all see significant time. You’ll see a ton from the defensive backs and they aren’t necessarily tiny, they’re good sized, but they were very much victimized last year. Tre Rosser and Tarri Mitchell should get the call at cornerback, but two JUCO guys, Aaron Foy and Trent Perriman could get looks as well. Patrick Martin and Ahmad Muhammad are the safeties.
I think Texas Tech rolls here and I don’t know now much else to say about that. This should be a pretty dominating effort and we should have a clear idea as to which freshmen are having their redshirts removed.