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:

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