Seven Points: Texas Tech vs. Iowa State

The Red Raiders travel to Ames.

1. The Setting

Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-2, 3-1)
Bad Guys: Iowa State Cyclones (3-3, 2-2)
When to Watch: Saturday, October 27th @ 11:00 a.m.
Where to Watch: Jack Trice Stadium | Ames, Iowa
How to Watch: ESPN2 | WatchESPN
How to Listen: 97.3 FM | Affiliates | TuneIn App
The Line: Iowa State -4 (OddsShark)

2. Uniform Tracker

3. The Big Storyline

* Tech Tarot 2018 – Iowa State
* Possible Red Raiders: A Weekly Recruiting Update 10/22/2018
* The Primer: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Iowa State Cyclones
* Quote Board: Kingsbury Discusses Iowa State
* Iowa State Preview – Week 9 | 23 Personnel Podcast – 044
* I’ve Been Everywhere: Week 9 in the Big 12
* Texas Tech Basketball: At the Big 12 Media Day
* Let’s Talk About Stats: Texas Tech vs. Iowa State
* Eats & Bounds: Lubbock Concerts, Events and TTU Sports – 10/25/18

This stretch is pretty daunting, the toughest three-game stretch of the season and of course, it’s already weighing on me, the task of taking on Iowa State on the road, where Texas Tech has had so many issues, and then taking on conference juggernaut Oklahoma who is fighting for a playoff spot, and a resurgent Texas team that wants to spoil the Sooners at the top of the Big 12. From a pbig picture perspective, which is something I almost never do, is that the Red Raiders are tied with Oklahoma at 3-1 in conference (I can’t remember that happening in recent years, 4 games into the conference) and the Longhorns are currently undefeated and atop the Big 12, while West Virginia put the Iowa State loss behind them and absolutely clobbered Baylor on national television last night. If you are looking ahead, the Longhorns still have Oklahoma State this week, then West Virginia, @ Texas Tech, Iowa State, and @ Kansas. The Sooners have Kansas State, @ Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas and ending the season @ West Viginia.

Playing against Iowa State, it seems like playing a top 25 team, while Oklahoma and Texas are both top 10. I think that Kingsbury has tried to compartmentalize this game against the Cyclones, reminding the team about the 66-10 beatdown 2 years ago. In fact Iowa State is wearing the same uniform combination from two years ago. They want to embarass Texas Tech in exactly the same manner. There shouldn’t be any reason why Texas Tech is looking ahead to Oklahoma or any other game because Iowa State has had Texas Tech’s number.

I don’t have to give a prediction here, but I do think that both offenses won’t be as offensive as they have been, that both of the defenses are good and they’ll have their issues at different times during the game. I mention this below, but I think that Kingsbury got tired of being “out-coached” and at this point, the 2018 season seems like a redemption tour. Houston wants to be odd about the uniforms? Okay, let’s put 63 on them. Haven’t beaten Oklahoma State in a decade? Let’s just do it on the road. Need to beat TCU on the road again? Let’s do that. If anything, the way that this team plays, even in losses, you get the idea that they’re just going to keep moving those legs and Kingsbury just wants them to keep churning, keep digging because eventually you’ll get there.

Freshman Tracker: Alan Bowman (x6), KeSean Carter(x6), Erik Ezukanma (x2), Ta’Zhawn Henry (x7), Sarodorick Thompson (x4), and Jaylon Hutchings (x2). Buried in this week’s Quote Board was the question about players they are trying to redshirt linebacker Brayden Stringer (who has played in 2 games, Ole Miss and Kansas), fullback Tyler Carr (who played against Ole Miss) and defensive lineman Quinten Yontz (who has played 4 games, Ole Miss, Lamar, Houston, and West Virginia). The Carr situation is the most interesting because fullback Connor Killian is injured and Texas Tech still ran a ton of two-back looks last week with Tre King and Tah’Zhawn Henry getting most of the looks together. The tight end and fullback have been huge parts of this offense. This is, I think, the influence of Kevin Johns who loves to have either a fullback or a tight end when Bowman is in the game. I’ll be interested to see how effective Carr can be, and he’s a much bigger body than Killian, 6-4/270 to 6-2/235. And did you know that Texas Tech has another fullback, Mason McHorse. This is not a drill, nor is it a joke. McHorse (6-4/230) played in Grapevine with Bowman last year and was a tackle on the offensive line and defensive end.

4. Keys for Texas Tech

  • Iowa State offers a very unique offense from a match-up standpoint. Kingsbury recruited Antoine Wesley and T.J. Vasher, two very tall receivers that don’t have a ton of speed, but create so many match-up problems that make them incredible tough covers. Iowa State has done something similar as they have their own very tall receivers, Hakeem Butler (6-6/225) and Matthew Eaton (6-4/211) are two obvious match-up problems. Butler is the leading receiver with 24 catches for 479 yards and 5 touchdowns, while Eaton has 17 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. The Cyclones also have their share of smaller slot guys, but then they also have two very capable tight ends, Chase Allen (6-7/240) and Charlie Kolar (6-6/250) that create issues on the inside. The tight ends have caught a combined 8 passes, but the video I watched, Kolar looked pretty danged good and that’s another threat. So, the key for Texas Tech is to do what they’ve done for most of the year, which is try to limit those big plays, because Purdy can certainly find the open receiver and is really good at anticipating an open receiver.
  • The big deal with Iowa State’s defense is how they essentially are able to generate a pass rush with three lineman and drop eight players into coverage. Kingsbury is going to have to continue to run the ball and employ a short passing game in order to keep Iowa State honest and that’s easier said than done. Iowa State is very good against the run and they close quickly on running backs. A lot of pressure is going to be on Alan Bowman to make the right read and he won’t have a ton of time. With that being said, when Iowa State does bring pressure, he’ll need to find the receiver one-on-one because as good as Iowa State is in zone coverage, and they are, they’re human and they can’t cover one-on-one for extended periods just like any other pass defense.
  • A lot is being made about how the Iowa State offense is somewhat of a rough and tumble offense and they certainly have those aspects, but I think what’s not being said is that Texas Tech employs a lot of similar offensive sets. That’s not the point, but Iowa State has been significantly better rushing the ball than they were early in the season. In fact, what throws everything off is that the Cyclones only rushed for 19 yards on 23 carries against Iowa to start the season, but on the opposite end of that is that they rushed 47 times for 244 yards against West Virginia. That’s quite the contrast and a large part of that has been the emergence of Brock Purdy who really has only played in the Oklahoma State and West Virginia games. Against Oklahoma State, ISU ran 28 times for 140 yards, but then Purdy threw for 325 yards (a very efficient 325 yards). Purdy drives the offense quite well and he has had an interception in each of the last two games. I’d like to see the Texas Tech defense continue to be what they are, which is to stop Montgomery and Purdy running the ball, which will be tough and I’d try try to make Iowa State a passing team.
  • Bowman and the Texas Tech offense is going to have to feast on third downs again, which is what they’ve done for the most part this year. On third and long, Texas Tech is 8th, on third and medium, Texas Tech is 21st, and on third and short, Texas Tech is 16th. Inversely, Iowa State’s defense is 92nd on third and long, 99th on third and medium, and 52nd on third and short. this game may be won on whether or not Texas Tech can convert on third downs.

5. What to Watch

Iowa State gets a nice pass rush with just three players, but nothing seems too crazy, at least not crazy enough for Grier to throw an interception where there’s no WVU receiver close to the area. There are certain times that Grier can look amazing and other times where he looks absolutely terrible and this is one of those times . . . if anything, I think credit should go to Iowa State for slipping a nickelback into zone coverage, but that’s not exactly revolutionary . . . Grier then drops a dime into Sills hands and I don’t understand anything, nice coverage, just one-on-one and Sills is pretty good . . . 12 personnel, zone blocking, nothing special, a zone read, but Montgomery goes off for a nice run . . . same personnel grouping, exact same formation for Iowa State, and the Cyclones just ran almost the same play, but it was just a fake and the ISU receiver is one-on-one for a pretty easy touchdown . . . ISU is now in 11 personnel and West Virginia doesn’t really cover or account for that tight end until it’s too late . . . ISU then goes heavy, 12 personnel and some nice blocking and an easy touchdown . . . ISU goes 10 personnel (so yes, they tend to run in various formations) and the tight end that caught the previous pass is in the slot and the nickelback literally gets pushed back after a somewhat simple block and goes for a touchdown. The key here may be thinking about who is going to cover the tight end in these situations . . . had no idea that WVU scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal . . . 20 personnel in pistol formation, Purdy is under extreme pressure and he looked a lot like Bowman with that throw, finding the open receiver for a first down plus some . . . 20 personnel, a little play action and an absolute dime of a pass, good coverage too, but a better pass . . . this sack is good, but Grier should have thrown it away, he should know better. Obviously this was a coverage sack (or presumably) but he has to know better . . . another coverage play, but Grier is facing an impossible situation and being down by 2 touchdowns, he has to convert, so he’s already in a bad situation with 3/24 so ISU was playing deep so that there was most likely no opportunities down the field . . .

OSU is in a 3/3 situation, ISU rushes 3, and OSU uses ISU’s aggressive nature to use a QB keeper and I had no idea that QB could run like that . . . OSU gets great protection and a ton of time and ISU simply can’t cover for that length of time . . . that’s just a beautiful damn pass by a freshman quarterback, rolling to his right to find a big receiver in the end zone . . . the zone read with the fake flip to the running back . . . where in the heck is the 11th player and why is he not in that play, I think here the linebacker on the short side of the field is making the wrong read and should have been covering the quarterback (remember this when Bundage is voted all-Big 12) . . . short quick passes are supposed to be what beats this cloud coverage and OSU does a nice job of blocking on the outside . . . the ISU QB does a nice job of reading this one-on-one coverage, a post route where the safety is late because that’s all that’s there in coverage . . . the zone read touchdown is nothing is more zone blocking, or just man-on-man blocking . . . the OSU quarterback has lots of time and finds someone underneath for a big play on 3/15 . . . OSU does a nice job of recognizing the zone coverage and the safety is late coming over . . . OSU has guys in all of the right spots, but just another really nice pass . . . ISU gets burned by being over-aggressive and I think that’s going to be a key . . . the route combination is really nice, the inside receiver almost looks like he’s going to block, and then takes off, the relatively quick recognition is pretty good . . . OSU just blocks the heck out of a short yardage touchdown . . . you know what I think? I think that Iowa State’s receivers run some of the best routes that I’ve watched thus far and that’s a huge reason why they keep getting open . . .

6. Coach’s Corner

I can’t remember the other week that this happened, but there’s no transcript of Matt Campbell’s press conference so I’m going to pull quotes from different news papers.

Via the GlobeGazette, Campbell happy about the timing of the bye week:

“The bye week came at a really good time for our football team,” Campbell said. “It was good for our older guys to get back to the basics and reaffirm some of the fundamentals that are really important to us to go forward. Then we took a really good look at some of the young guys in our football program, which was really good for us. Now, we come back to a really good football team (Texas Tech) that will be a great challenge for us.”

And getting freshman quarterback Brock Purdy some evaluation time:

“Anytime you’re a young player, the opportunity to take a step back and evaluate your play – especially for him where he’s been thrusted into a really critical role and situation – is important,” Campbell said. “I thought it was really good for him to take a step back and be able evaluate what he’s done well and what are some of those areas that he needs to do better. Brock would tell you that there are still a lot of those areas that need to happen.

“I think that was a real positive, we were able to attack that as a program and as an offense – to continue to find ways to help him be the best version of himself as well. For everybody involved, it was a real positive.”

AmesTrib on the defense:

“What’s allowed our defense to play really well is the combination of, knowing who they are, knowing where they’re alignment, assignment and once the ball is snapped, play really fast,” Campbell said. “I think coach Heacock’s done a great job, our defensive staff has done a great job of finding that right balance between scheming everything up and also getting back to the foundations and basics of who we are and what our kids play.”

7. Iconography

Light a Fire: I don’t know if this is even a possibility, but I’d sure love to see the running backs assert themselves. This week, Kingsbury said that Da’Leon Ward has been injured and just not quite healthy. On Tech Talk earlier this week, Chris Level said that Ward needed to practice better. I think both of these things are true, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that Ward can be this team’s best running back, but he can’t get on the field. And truthfully, Demarcus Felton has been this team’s most effective running back, averaging over 5 yards a carry with 5 touchdowns, and freshman Ta’Zhawn Henry has been a very good freshman with 8 touchdowns this year on a shade over 4 yards a carry. This group and the offensive line need to be better because I think there will be opportunities there.

Eraser Wanted: I think the safeties are going to have to be on point this week. Iowa State is is really good from a route-running standpoint and the safeties will need to be very good in terms of supporting the run stopping, but they’ll have to guard against big plays for the Iowa State receivers. It’s a tough task for sure, but I think that Vaughnte Dorsey is going to need to have a big game.

Needs Repair: This is awfully critical, but the punt return game needs some work, and I mentioned after the Kansas game that I’d be fine with just fair-catching everything at this point. The last thing that I want to see on the road is a negative punt return play that puts the offense in an even worse position than because of a bad return. I know that this is awfully defeatist, but I want Bowman to have the best possible position to start the offense.

Under the Microscope: There may not be a bigger game (truthfully, the Oklahoma game will be a bigger test so I’m being a bit dramatic here) for the defensive line and I’m super excited for what Broderick Washington, Nick McCann, Joseph Wallace and to a smaller extent Preston Gordon can do along with Eli Howard and Kolin Hill and Tony Jones on the ends. Against Ole Miss, the defense gave up 7.5 yards per carry and since that time, the defense really did tighten things up. The defense did give up 173 against Houston, but that was on 40 carries and other than those two games, Texas Tech has only allowed 128 yards against Oklahoma State, 119 yards against West Virginia, 121 yards against TCU and 98 yards against Kansas. I think the TCU and Kansas offenses were broke for the most part, but I think if the defense can stay in this 120-130 range against Iowa State then good things will happen.

Tacos vs. Burritos Matchup of the Week: Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury and Quarterback Alan Bowman vs. Defensive Coordinator Jon Heacock and Safeties Braxton Lewis, Lawrence White and Greg Eisworth – With all of the hype surrounding Iowa State’s defense, and it is well deserved, I think we’re going to see how good Bowman is at executing a game plan (I think he is very good as an aside) and Kingsbury’s ability to exploit this Iowa State defense. This game is somewhat personal for Kingsbury and I think that the creativity that we’ve seen from Kingsbury this year is a direct reflection on the praise that national fans, media, coaches, have had for guys like Lincoln Riley, where Kingsbury was the “it” guy before Riley. I think Kingsbury has a lot of pride and he wants to show how good he is at this offensive play-calling thing. It’s going to be fun as heck to see how Bowman and Kingsbury attack Iowa State, maybe the one thing I’m most excited to see.


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