Saturday, September 13, 2008

Texas Tech vs SMU - Simulation

Well this has been a frustrating time trying to put this game together. Even with Ike just barely reaching power has flickered off/on a few times and it's just enough for the PS3 to cut off. I've run 2 simulations of the game...and the furthest I got was Tech 22 SMU 3 middle of the 2nd quarter. I went ahead and ran a full "quick sim" of the game (one w/o pics) and I came up with a final of Texas Tech 59 SMU 13. I like that pick as it covers the spread, puts the game over 69 points, and it means that Tech probably had a good day on offense so maybe the fans will stop their bickering for at least 1 day. to have a few beers, root for my picks, and get ready for another romp of the Ponies.

Below is what I blogged from the simulation when my power cut off:

The temperatures are in the low 60's, the rain is coming down hard, the wind is out of the southeast at 15 let's play some football! Much like the last time SMU and Texas Tech met up in Lubbock (2006), the weather is less than desirable for this matchup. The Red Raiders come in as the heavy favorite, with the Vegas line currently having them at 37 point favorites. Personally, I'm setting the # of passes between the two teams at over 100. Something tells me that's a safe number. SMU will get the ball to start the game so let's get to it...

1st Quarter

- The Ponies have definitely taken a play out of the Eastern Washington playbook asthey've come out throwing all sorts of screens and hitches as Mitchell stars the game 6 of 7 and leads the Ponies into the endzone. Wait...holding on DeMyron Martin and now it's 1st and goal at the Texas Tech 20.

- On 3rd and goal from the 12, Marlon Williams breaks up a pass to an otherwise wide open WR and Mustangs settle for a FG.

SMU 3 Texas Tech 0 10:52 1st Quarter

-I know it's random, but Kirk Herbstreit commented that, "This (Texas Tech) offense has been waiting all week to get back out on the field and show what they're made of." A nice, subtle reference to the Nevada game.

- SMU brings a lot of pressure on Tech's first drive and while they don't get to Harrell...he can't get in an early rhythm and it's 3 and out for the Air Raid. SMU takes over at their own 25 after a nice punt.

(EDITORS NOTE: Despite my best efforts, the game keeps lining up Jamar Wall at slot WR instead of Detron Lewis. I've decided to take over control of the offense and this keeps Wall out of the game. The defense will still be played by the CPU.)

- This time the Air Raid moves right down the field in 6 plays and Harrell finishes off the drive with a 10 yd TD pass to Adam James.


Texas Tech 7 SMU 3 6:04 1st

- Brandon Sesay is playing like a man possessed early on. He and Rajon Henley are beating their opponent on a consistent basis and have been VERY close to getting to the QB.

- On 3rd and long, Daniel Charbonnet steps in front of a Bo Levi Mitchell pass and Texas Tech takes over at the SMU 23 yard line after a nice return.

- 3 pass completions later...and Graham Harrell hooks up with Shannon Woods from 7 yds out for another touchdown.


Texas Tech 14 SMU 3 2:10 1st Quarter

- This time Sesay bats Mitchell's pass up in the air but he can't hol on to the ball for the INT and it falls harmelessly to the ground.

- SMU is driving again and Mitchell is 13 of 19 for 121 yds and 1 INT at the end of the 1st Quarter. To compare, Harrell is 10 of 11 for 97 yds and 2 TD's.

2nd Quarter

- Somebody must've run the wrong route because the only guy within 10 yards of where Mitchell threw this pass was Brian Duncan.


- Just like last game, Harrell finds Michael Crabtree for a long TD pass. This one is good for 71 yards. A bad snap on the extra point...but Potts picks it up and finds Adam James wide open for the 2 point conversion.

Texas Tech 22 SMU 3 12:21 2nd Quarter

- After another failed SMU drive, Tech takes over in good field position. Unfortunately, Shannon Woods is hurt on the first play of the drive (bruised ankle) and the Red Raiders go 3 and out.

- Brian Duncan and Daniel Charbonnet ALMOST get in to block a punt but the ball is just out of reach...


Friday, September 12, 2008

Navigating the High Seas of Lubbock

For those that aren't aware...they've had a good bit of rain in Lubbock the last few days. So much in fact that Coach Leach decided to break out his pirate ship to view the situation.

Rest assured though that the water will be gone by 6PM tomorrow.

I had some trouble with picture uploading for the SMU sim game. I'll have it up either tonight or tomorrow before the game.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nevada Game Recap

Unfortunately...I don't really have much of one this time around. I was at the Rangers/Red Sox derby for the first half of the game and was only able to listen parts of the 3rd and 4th quarter on the radio (when it wasn't cutting out) so I don't have too many direct thoughts on this one. Here are the consensus thoughts I've taken from reading up on the game the last few days:

Graham Harrell had his worst game ever. I think that's a fairly safe and accurate statement to make. (Some could argue that he had a worse game vs TCU 2 years ago but I think more of his mistakes that day were attributed to TCU's defense instead of his own poor performance.) Including the Nevada game, Harrell has had 4 games in which he completed less than 65% of his passes. Oddly enough, they've all been on the road (he did complete exactly 65% vs Northwestern St last year in a 75-7 romp). Here's how Tech fared in those games:

  • 9/16/06 TCU 12 Texas Tech 3...23 of 47 (48.9%) for 204 yds 0 TD 0 INT's
  • 11/11/06 OU 34 Texas Tech 24...26 of 48 (54.2%) for 250 yds 2 TD's 1 INT
  • 10/20/07 Missouri 41 Texas Tech 10...44 of 69 (63.5%) for 397 yds 1 TD 4 INT's
  • 9/6/08 Texas Tech 35 Nevada 19...19 of 46 (41.3%) for 297 yds 1 TD 2 INT's
So looking at these numbers, we see that in games where Harrell has previously performed "below par" (he's completed 68.7% for his career at Texas Tech) that the Red Raiders don't come out on top. However, something changed in Reno on Saturday. Tech finally won a game in which Graham performed poorly. So now let's try to find the "how the hell did they pull this off" answer:

Possible Reasons for Victory

  • Jon Bible was officiating the game. Nevermind...
  • The defense played a great game. Well yes...and no. Any time you give up 488 yds of offense it's hard to say that it was a "great game." However, when a team is 3 of 5 in red zone scoring opportunities and can only muster 9 points, then it's safe to say that defense stepped up when it had to. For the first time in a long time...Tech's defense exemplified a "bend but don't break" mentality. They allowed plenty of yards all over the field but once Nevada got close to the end zone, then the defense held strong and forced a fumble at the goal line and intercepted a pass.
  • The offense ran the ball effectively. For the second game in a row, Tech ran for over 100 yards as a team. The 22 carries allowed the Air Raid to chew up some much needed clock (they only held the ball for 23 minutes) and keep Nevada's defense on edge. On the season, Tech is 88th nationally in rush offense at 113.5 ypg, 1 spot (and yard) ahead of aggie...and on 27 fewer carries. By comparison, Tech was 119th (aka dead last) in 2007 with 59.3 ypg and only 3.13 ypc (vs 4.83 ypc this year). Also, Tech is running the ball 6 times more per game this season.
  • Leach's superior play calling abilities overcame Harrell's poor performance. Sorry...forgot about the multiple failed 4th down plays INSIDE TECH's 30 YARD LINE!!!

A few other miscellaneous thoughts that I'll toss in at the end:

- Donnie Carona has now had 3 kicks (2 FG, 1 XP) blocked in his first 2 games. Some might argue that the kick protection is poor...but Carona's kick are still coming off too low and this definitely increases the chance of them being batted down (just like Harrell's low balls to WR's over the middle thrown between/over lineman). DC definitely has the leg to be a great kicker but maybe it's time to give Cory Fowler a few shots so that Leach has more confidence in his kicking game before conference starts. The last thing anybody needs is to lose a game like Mizzou last year when Leach keeps going for it instead of allowing a kicker to try a long FG...and Leach had every reason to have faith in Trlica's kicking ability last year too.

- Eric Morris returned a punt 86 yards for a TD in the 1st quarter. This is the first punt return TD for Texas Tech since Danny Amendola accomplished the feat in 2004 @ Kansas State.

- Brandon Williams had sacks on back to back plays. McKinner Dixon recorded 1.5 sacks. The team now has 7 sacks (9th in the country) in 2008. They only had 26 in 2007 (64th in the country).

- Tech's defense is averaging 6.5 tackles for a loss in 2008. They averaged 6 in 2007. While that doesn't sound like a big difference...the yardage gain (or lost for the offense) is significantly better this season. In 2007, Tech generated 25.1 ypg on plays that went for negative yardage...or 4.12 yards lost per play. In 2008, Tech has generated 41.5 ypg on plays that lost yards...or 6.38 yards lost per play. With this info is from a limited sample, we can already see what difference Ruffin McNeill's defense is making in 2008. For comparative purposes, the 2005 defense that went to the Cotton Bowl averaged 4.58 tackles for a loss at only 3.69 yards lost per play. Great job Coach Ruff. Keep up the good work!

Ok that about wraps up my thoughts on Nevada. Tune in tomorrow (hopefully) for the Tech vs SMU NCAA 09 Simulation. I'm going to start jacking with the depth chart in the game (i.e. - remove LA Reed, keep Jamar Wall from showing up at WR) to try and generate as real of a simulation as is possible. I'm also tweaking the game's AI some to create a "real outcome" with a sample size of 1. Until tomorrow...enjoy this:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughts for Saturday/Nevada/etc

I'm not as worried about this game as I should be. Maybe I'm crazy...but I think Tech wins this one with a nice margin of victory.

Texas Tech 41
Nevada 21

Now on to other more exciting things...

Mr Crabtree has shown up on Youtube again. This time in a workout video. It looks like a piece for Gameday later this year but there's no way to tell just yet. Maybe this means Gameday is considering a trip to Lubbock for the Texas game!

For the betting folks's who I'm playing:

Texas -27
Tulsa -22
ECU - 8

That's all I've got on a Saturday. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO RAIDERS!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crabtree blogging for the New York Times

Michael Crabtree is blogging for the New York Times this season. His first entry is a quick introductory post about himself, his family, and what a brief look at what his life is like in Lubbock.

Texas Tech vs Nevada - Simulation

Well the plus side is that I've got some pics and videos for this game. However, since EA Sports didn't see fit to add Mackay Stadium into the game...I decided to move the game to UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium.

First Quarter

- Nevada wins the coin toss and will start at their own 32 yd line.
- After a nice QB draw by Kaepernick, he goes play action only to find that Marlon Williams has snuck in front of his intended WR and intercepted the ball at the Nevada 43 yd line.

marlon INT 1

- Nevada has pressured Harrell on every pass he's thrown, but he's completed the first 3 to 3 different WR's and the Red Raiders are down inside the 10 yd line. 1st and goal.
- On 3rd and goal, Shannn Woods makes a nice catch along the sideline but is stopped a yard short of the goalline. No worries though as he walks into the endzone on 4th down behind a pair of nice blocks from Rylan Reed and a pulling Brandon Carter.

Texas Tech 7
Nevada 0
10:50 1st Quarter

- We have our first penalty of the day as Franklin Mitchem rips off the helmet of the Nevada return an and the Wolfpack will start the drive at their own 48 yd line.
- Rajon Henley gets to Kaepernick on 1st down for an 8 yd sack. However, Nevada is able to convert on 3rd and 15 to get inside the Texas Tech 40 yd line.
- What looks like a play action screen is negated as Colby Whitlock gets to Kaepernick for a 6 yd sack.

colby sack

- Taylor Charbonnet breaks up what would've been Nevada's third 3rd down conversion on the drive and the Wolfpack come up just short on a 48 yd FG attempt.

6:56 1st Quarter

- Graham has found Crabtree with 3 consecutive passes for just over 25 total yds. Nevada is keeping a lot of tight pressure on #5 to keep him from putting up the YAC yardage.
- Two pass plays to the Elf...and you've got 36 yds and another Texas Tech touchdown!
emo TD

Texas Tech 14
Nevada 0
4:30 1st Quarter

- Be glad that you aren't the one having to face Brandon he goes sky high to swat down a pass on 3rd and long to kill another Wolfpack drive.

sesay jump

- The final play of the 1st quarter finds Kaepernick hitting the turf for the 4th time.

2nd Quarter

- On the first play of the 2nd quarter, Nevada tries a screen play but Marlon Williams sheds his block, intercepts the pass, and goes 16 yards untouched to the end zone.

marlon INT TD

Texas Tech 21
Nevada 0
14:55 2nd Quarter

- Jamar Wall has seen a little bit of time at slot WR and has had 2 nice catch and runs on quick outs.
- Adrian Reese lines up in the slot and has a very nice 14 yd catch in traffic to move the chains on 3rd down.
- Harrell fakes a draw to Shannon Woods on 3rd and long and throws towards the endzone to Detron Lewis. Unfortunately the ball is just underthrown and Nevada picks it off and returns it to their own 18 yd line.

8:08 2nd Quarter

- Nevada is using some 3-3-5 and getting really nice pressure on Harrell.
- On 3rd and long, Harrell finds a wide open Detron Lewis on a wheel route and he goes the distance for another Texas Tech touchdown.

Texas Tech 28
Nevada 0
4:26 2nd Quarter

- Nevada is doing a really nice job moving the ball through the air. Unfortunately, their offense is built to run the ball and they aren't have much success on the ground. Still, they're inside Tech territory with under a minute left until halftime.
- Brandon Sesay drops into zone coverage on a RB and snags first INT as a Red Raider. He tries to take it back about 70 yds but is finally caught by a Nevada RB around the 5 yd line after carrying him on his back for close to 10 yds.

run sesay

- This time it only takes 1 play as GH finds Eddie B for a 6 yd TD just before the half.

Texas Tech 35
Nevada 0

Noteable Stats
- Graham Harrell is 16 of 21 for 207 yds 3 TD's and 1 INT
- Michael Crabtree has 4 receptions for 40 yds
- Ed Britton has 3 catches for 35 yds and 1 TD
- Brandon Sesay has 2 tackles, 1 QB sack, 2 tackle for loss, and 1 INT
- Marlon Williams has 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 2 INT's
- The Swarm has sacked Kaepernick 5 times and picked off 3 of his passes in the first half.
- Nevada has 93 net yards in the first half (98 passing, -5 rushing)
- Texas Tech has 210 net yards in the first half

3rd Quarter

- The Air Raid is having a VERY methodical drive this time, having chewed up almost 5 minutes off the clock. Unfortunately, it ends with 33 yd Donnie Carona FG this time after 12 plays and 62 yards.

Texas Tech 38
Nevada 0
10:08 3rd

- Another Nevada drive, another Texas Tech INT. This time it's Brian Duncan stepping in front of a pass.

- The Red Raiders go 3 and out but this time Donnie Carona's 54 yd FG attempt falls short after hitting the bottom bar.

- Eddie B is having a really nice day today. He's had 3 big time catches to keep this drive going down into the Nevada redzone.
- On 3rd and goal, Harrell finds Aaron Crawford out of the backfield for a Red Raider touchdown. I doubt we see the starters out on the field too much longer.

Texas Tech 45
Nevada 0
1:28 3rd Quarter

- Bront Bird strips Kaepernick on 3rd down and Brandon Williams recovers at the Nevada 43. The first team offense is coming back out on the field for Texas Tech.

4th Quarter

- Despite having to fight through double coverage most of the game, Michael Crabtree finalls gets in the endzone for his first TD of the day.

crabtree TD

Texas Tech 52
Nevada 0
13:38 4th Quarter

- It took 3+ quarters but the Wolfpack finally find the scoreboard late in the 4th against Texas Tech's backups.

- The Red Raiders run the clock out and this one is over!

Texas Tech 52
Nevada 7


Total Offense...398...242
Passing Offense...33 of 48 356 yds 5 TD's 1 INT...20 of 34 184 yds 1 TD 4 INT's
Rushing Offense...26 carries 42 yds 1 TD...24 carries 58 yds 0 TD's

Graham Harrell - 30 of 42 336 yds 5 TD's 1 INT

Ed Britton - 8 catches 104 yds 1 TD
Michael Crabtree - 7 catches 65 yds 1 TD
Detron Lewis - 4 catches 86 yds 1 TD
Eric Morris - 5 catches 60 yds 1 TD

Jamar Wall - 10 tackles 2 pass deflections
Marlon Wiilams - 7 tackles (2 for loss) 2 INT's (1 for TD)
Brian Duncan - 6 tackles (2 for loss) 1 INT
Brandon Sesay - 4 tackles (4 for loss) 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thoughts on Eastern Washington Game

As usual...I'm the last one to the blogosphere party after a game. We stayed until early in the 4th quarter on Saturday and then drove to Amarillo...and I didn't get back to Dallas until about 11:30 PM last night. As a result, I'm pretty beat and haven't had time to write anything yet. With that out of the way, I'm going to start with a list of reasons I DO NOT think the sky is falling on this team:

1) The defense gave up 300 yards passing. Eastern Washington had a VERY good gameplan for this game. They have a very talented QB and a couple of quality WR's. However, they also know that Texas Tech's defense has better athletes than their pass catchers. As a result, they ran all sorts of quick outs, hitches, and other quick hitting passes that 1) got the ball out of the QB's hands ASAP, 2) negated Tech's athletic superiority by not allowing them to make plays, and 3) kept the ball out of the hands of the Red Raiders. They were able to sustain long drives with this scheme. Note that they gained 5.4 yds/pass vs Tech's 9.2 yds/pass...and Tech didn't take very many shots downfield. They had were 74% to 26% pass/run. Oh...and I won't even get into how wide open their guys were on two TD passes.

2) We only won by 25 points against a 1-AA team. For anybody that thought we'd beat EWU along the lines of the 75-7 Northwestern St win from 2007 or 80-21 over Sam Houston in were sadly mistaken. It didn't take a lot of research to realize that Eastern Washington was going to be a much better team. A little bit of googling will teach you that the Eagles lost in the 1-AA Quarters to Appalachian State, they're a Top 10 FCS team, and they've got a plenty of All-Conference and few All-American players. As a point of reference, UMass is #4 in 1-AA and they LOVE to run the ball. This will be a nice test for Ruffin's D.

3) Our team looked uninspired and inconsistent. Hmm...this goes a bit against the last point but I'll do it anyways. You're playing a 1-AA team, you're expected to blow them out, you've got the most explosive offense in the country...the list goes on and on for why the guys looked less than interested at time. What impressed me the most was hearing EMo, Harrell, Duncan, etc comment after the game that they were disappointed in the performance and they all acknowledged that they didn't give EWU enough respect. I doubt it happens again this week.

Now...let's get to 2 reasons to be worried about the future:

First and foremost, we better start praying that our starting O-Line stays healthy this season. As was the case last year against Mizzou when Shawn Byrnes went down with an injury and the line struggled to protect Harrell for the rest of the game...the same thing happened with EWU. They weren't able to sack Graham but 3 1-AA lineman shouldn't be getting that kind of pressure on him on a consistent basis. With Vasquez injured (though he should play on Saturday) and Rylan Reed still returning from a broken ankle in last year's Gator Bowl (he was limping throughout the contest with EWU), the possibility of a Chris Olson, Lonnie Edwards, or Mickey Okafor playing significant minutes is very real...and given what we've seen so far there is definitely cause for concern for the Red Raider Nation.

Also, 18 penalties is down right scary. I don't care who the opponent is or what the circumstances were...a team that commits 18 penalties doesn't deserve to win. What's more, the # of 15 yd penalties (8) is the most demoralizing. I counted 6 personal fouls, a pass interference, and a kick catch interference. It doesn't matter what level of effort we see in future games. If sound fundamentals and discipline aren't there then it WILL cost Texas Tech at least one victory this season.

I'll just throw out some quick hits on things that I was pleased with:

- Run defense looked great. Then again EWU stopped running after the 1st quarter and only ran in situations where it was obvious they were going to...but 22 carries for 23 yards is good no matter who you are.
- Detron Lewis is going to be a nice improvement over Amendola. Don't get me wrong...I've always liked DA and was thoroughly pissed at the Cows when they cut him (but were able to get him to the practice squad)...but Detron (aka The Truth) brings an improved level of size and athleticism to the position that was missing the past few seasons.
- Having 3 guys that are capable running backs is a great problem to have. When one guy struggles (Woods) then the other guys (Batch and Crawford) can come in and offer different looks to the defense. This allows the offense to be more versatile and control the field that much more than in the past. I felt that Woods had a few too many touches last Saturday and Matt Moore indicated this week that he's going to try and balance out the carries a bit more.

Ok...that just about all for now. I'll be back later with my NCAA 09 blog and simulation of Texas Tech @ Nevada.