Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Summer Filler #3: Texas Tech

Thanks to the wave of realignments that swept across college sports last summer, the Big Ten ended up with twelve members and the Big 12 was trimmed down to ten members. Normally this is where I would go on a childish rant about how this is all stupid and makes no sense, but then I thought about the logic behind Louisiana Tech playing in a "Western" Athletic Conference and decided to hold my tongue. Instead, I'll just fix myself a drink and wonder why the sports I follow insist upon being built on foundations of lies.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The spread offense has been a fixture at Texas Tech in the last decade, first under Mike Leach and now under Tommy Tuberville. But where Leach's teams gained notoriety for almost exclusively passing the ball, Tuberville's teams will seek more balance. The Red Raiders seemed to adjust to this slight change just fine last year, finishing 8-5, playing in their eleventh straight bowl game and winning their second straight.


Scoring: 33.1 ppg (t-23rd)
Rushing: 141.3 ypg (75th)
Passing: 318.9 ypg (7th)
Total: 460.2 ypg (15th)
First Downs: 24.8 pg (9th)
Third Downs Converted: 44.3% (35th)
Red Zone Conversions: 81.8% (t-63rd)


Scoring: 30.9 ppg (93rd)
Rushing: 162.5 ypg (69th)
Passing: 293.8 ypg (118th)
Total: 456.3 ypg (114th)
Sacks: 25.0 (t-60th)
Tackles for Loss: 76.0 (t-54th)
Turnover Margin: -3 (t-70th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 21 (t-10th)
Kickoff Returns: 22.4 ypr (51st)
Punts: 40.5 ypr (68th)
Punt Returns: 6.3 ypr (88th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 1,894 - number of career kickoff return yards junior-to-be Eric Stephens (above) has already racked up, a program record; 7 - number of games last year in which the Texas Tech defense gave up 300 or more passing yards, including three 400+ yard games (Baylor, Texas A&M and Houston); 5-0 - the Red Raiders' record in games decided by eight or fewer points last year.

Stop me if you've heard this routine before: this team had an offense that could move the ball and score points on just about any defense in the nation, but when it came time for their own defense to take the field blah blah blah blah can't stop the pass. Sound familiar? That's because it's the same song and dance we've grown used to hearing for Nevada's teams of the last few years. Needless to say, we here at PWtW can identify with Red Raider fans.

And just like in many of Nevada's previous seasons, these two units had the effect of either propelling the team to lopsided victories or screwing them over en route to puzzling defeats. They beat a Missouri team that finished 10-3 and ranked #18 in both major polls, but also found ways to lose to Texas and Iowa State, who each finished 5-7. Those pass defense numbers, in particular, look like they were the result of Nigel Burton's "expertise."

The Red Raiders are definitely the most difficult to read of all of Nevada's non-conference opponents, and are also the most intriguing one as a result. All five starters return on the offensive line, but gone are the team's top two receivers (Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis), their starting running back (Baron Batch) and quarterback Taylor Potts and his Unabomber beard. The questions on defense center around who will replace defensive tackle Colby Whitlock's experience (49 consecutive starts) and the productivity of linebackers Bront Bird (106 tackles) and Brian Duncan (7 sacks). It also remains to be seen how long long it will take that defense to adjust to new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow and his new scheme. Additionally, Coach Tuberville's recruiting prowess is already evident in the first full class of his tenure in Lubbock, but how many of those players will be talented enough to play right away, and what kind of impact would they make and where?

Next week we'll check up on the defending Maaco Bowl Las Vegas champion (hurts, doesn't it?) Boise State Broncos.

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