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 2005...you 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.

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