Texas Tech has a defense that, for the time being, ranks very highly in some very important defensive categories. Quality of opposition? That does not rank so highly. The Red Raiders had their first real challenge last week in the loss to Oklahoma and when Landry Jones dropped back 40 times, he threw 40 passes and completed 25 and managed two touchdowns and 259 yards. He wasn’t sacked. He wasn’t hurried.
But that’s what the Red Raiders do — which is to say, they don’t do much. Don’t blitz. Don’t feign blitzes. Don’t disguise. Don’t confuse. They instead do a few things again and again and do them pretty well, which is a choice of words borrowed from descriptions of the WVU offense.
“It doesn’t look overly complicated and it’s pretty simple what they do, but a lot of times when you face a defense that doesn’t do a lot, they end up being really good at what they do,” offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said.
Yet, if you don’t pressure Geno Smith and you give the offensive line some comfort and control, you could have a bad day.
Conversely, you’re probably giving yourself your best chance if you stick with the things you know and do best. Then it’s just a matter of winning man-to-man outside and managing zones inside and hoping three- or four-man pressure can get home before Geno can get the ball to someone.
This, fittingly enough on the day we learn he’s getting a new contract, seems like a Bob Huggins game: Do what you do.
WVU is expecting the Texas Tech it’s seen on tape, but is preparing just enough flexibility to be prepared for surprises. Texas Tech would probably do the same, given WVU’s sudden propensity to go with the five-receiver sets even with a healthy running game against Texas.
Holgorsen’s offense is simple and guided by a simple principle: If it works, keep doing it. The five-receiver set is working and it doesn’t cause problems when WVU prepares.
The problem resides on the other side of the ball. It’s about how a team quickly adapts to Bailey on the inside and addresses the reality the defense can’t double-team or pay especially close attention to both Austin and Bailey without opening up the outside for big gains.
“It gives them something else to think about,” Dawson said. “There were probably a lot of factors why we went that route, but probably, in my opinion, none of them had as much to do with it as moving Stedman around.”
So game plan it up here: How does one beat the other tomorrow?