Over the first two weeks, the Red Raider defense has given up just 13 points. Even though it was against Montana State and UTEP (and it was expected), it was a good sign and it gave some confidence in this defensive unit.
One thing that kept getting my attention on Saturday was how Keith Patterson used his blitzes. I didn’t recall seeing a whole lot of them the first game, but we saw plenty of them in the UTEP game, coming from everywhere on the field.
Some of them worked to perfection. Texas Tech record three sacks on 22 passes after recording just one on 25 pass attempts the first week. And UTEP’s quarterbacks are more mobile as well. However, over times it seemed the blitz was delayed a little too much and it resulted in a completion.
But let’s look at positive and see the one’s that worked. This one is on a run, but the way the defensive line is lined up is different. Instead of the ends lining up with the tackle and the DT over the center, everything is shifted to the right side of the line.
Eli Howard is over the center, Jaylon Hutchings is lined up the tackle, and Borderick Washington is lined up on the tight end. What makes this play work is Adam Beck lined up outside of Washington. His assignment is the tight end on the play, but now you have four offensive players lined up four defensive players.
What they don’t account for is Jordyn Brooks coming thru that same side. They can’t block everyone, so Brooks squeezes between Hutchings and Washington to record the tackle for loss.
The second blitz is a delay blitz a little later in the drive. The formation looks like your basic 3-3-5 set, but five guys from the get go rush the passer. The three down lineman, Desmond Smith and Xavier Benson rush the passer, with all five lineman accounting for those guys. Once the play begins, the running backs start helping out the linemen.
That when Brooks makes his moves. He shooting through the line like a cannon, getting a direct hit a quarterback. The passer quickly has a to throw it up on his receiver, needing a perfect pass to complete it. It was not perfect. Sacks are nice, but QB pressures are what really matter, especially when they result in a wasted play.
The next two plays actually resulted in sacks. And this is more of the formation I expect to see blitzes out of. The reason why? It’s look most like their base set. Although the linebackers are playing pretty close to the line, you could back them up a little bit and it would look very familiar to their typical set.
The two linebackers are playing up in the gaps, and the Raider linebacker is lined up on the outside of the defensive end. Since the ends are lined up with the tackles and the nose tackle is lined up in the center, you have to communicate where the players are coming from.
In this case, the tight end should’ve taken the Raider linebacker (Brayden Stringer) and everyone should have taken the guy lined up in front of them. The tight end went inside, missed his block, and left two free runners towards the quarterback for the joint sack.
The next play is a little similar. Except this time, the Raider linebacker fakes like he’s blitzing and picks up the running back when he begins to move out of the backfield. The unmarked guy this time? The Spur linebacker, played by Thomas Leggett. He looks like he has the RB this play, but instead comes in hot and gets the sack. Busted coverage helped again as well (it is UTEP).
But after this weekend, we have some idea how the Red Raiders will blitz. The key to blitzing isn’t typically how many guys rush (although it help because six is greater than five), but disguising it. It’s hard to determine who to block and who to throw two when you don’t know who’s coming.
On the delay blitz, another key is the defensive backs. Although most blitzes are designed to get to the QB quickly, delay blitzes take a little bit longer. A few delay blitzes failed this weekend whenever a play was able to get open before the linebacker was able to reach the quarterback.
There’s going to be a lot of inexperienced quarterbacks in the Big 12 this year, as far as guys who just don’t have a ton of starts under their belt and a lot of unknowns. The blitz is going to be very important to the success of the defense this season.