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Tighter coverage yielding results for Texas Tech secondary

Posted: October 2, 2012 - 8:25pm  |  Updated: October 3, 2012 - 12:39am
Texas Tech's Cornelius Douglas returns an interception against Iowa State during their game on Saturday in Ames. Tech's secondary has been much improved in 2012 with tighter coverage and five interceptions.
Texas Tech's Cornelius Douglas returns an interception against Iowa State during their game on Saturday in Ames. Tech's secondary has been much improved in 2012 with tighter coverage and five interceptions.
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Through four games this season, the Texas Tech defense has minimized damage in the passing game by reducing space.

In other words, Tech defensive backs aren’t affording opposing receivers much of it.

Just ask Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, who told reporters after his team’s 24-13 loss to the Red Raiders on Saturday that its lack of productivity in the passing game — the Cyclones threw for only 73 yards — was a direct result of the inability of receivers to break free from Tech’s tight man-to-man coverage.

“They were pressing us all over the field,” Rhoads said. “When guys are rolling up on your widest receivers, then on your inside receivers, (quick passing) isn’t a part of the package. It’s just not there. Why it’s successful a lot is because folks play loose; they play off, and you can throw and catch and get blocks made to start plays. You can’t do that against that type of press coverage.”

The new aggressiveness in the passing game for Tech (4-0, 1-0 in Big 12 Conference) quickly stood out to Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose No. 17 Sooners (2-1, 0-1) will visit Jones AT&T Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, while he digested Tech game film.

“They’re playing you aggressive,” Stoops told reporters at his weekly press conference Monday. “They’re playing you tight.”

Added Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones: “They are playing the ball a lot better when it is in the air than they have been since I played them, for sure.”

Tech defensive coordinator Art Kaufman said he and the defensive staff worked from the first day of pad workouts during spring practice on helping the team’s defensive backs become confident they could succeed one-on-one in close quarters against an opposing receiver.

As he puts it, “we feel like our defensive backs can stand close to guys.”

The secondary, led by four senior starters, has bought in. Senior safety D.J. Johnson said the trust the staff places in players’ hands to make the right reads and call the correct coverages has allowed the unit to play more freely.

“We’re a different team,” Johnson said. “You can see that from the first four games. Our coaching staff, they let us do what got us here in the first place. ... We’re a lot looser out there when we play, and we’re allowed to make up as we go and confuse receivers and quarterbacks.”

There are several inherent advantages to the up-close-and-personal press coverage Tech has employed, evidenced by its No. 1 overall rating in pass efficiency defense.

For starters, effectively jamming wide receivers at the line can throw off timing between the receivers and their quarterback, a key when so many offenses in the Big 12 rely on a multitude of timing routes. The tight coverage also limits opportunities for opposing playmakers to make moves in space — another staple of the spread offense.

The coverage style also gives defensive backs more chances to make plays on the ball. Tech has taken advantage by matching its interception total from the entire 2011 season (five) through four games.

So why wasn’t Tech able to use the strategy more often last season?

“Last year we played looser zone because our pass rush wasn’t quite there,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We weren’t able to get in the quarterback’s face. That changes during the game. If you see that you can rush with four instead of having to bring in five or six, and you can play tighter zone, you can jump routes.”

That was the case against Iowa State. The Red Raiders rarely brought more than four pass rushers, yet they were still able to force Cyclone quarterback Steele Jantz into four turnovers. And Tech’s nine sacks through four games are only seven shy of its total from a season ago.

Whether Tech can create similar pressure with similar personnel against an Oklahoma team that averages 37 pass attempts per game will be key to the Red Raiders chances on Saturday against Jones and the nation’s No. 35 passing attack.

“The biggest key to us having success in this game is what we do, our technique” Kaufman said. “Not losing focus on what our job is, that’s key at every position, but especially in the secondary.”


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nick.kosmider@lubbockonline.com • 766-8735

george.watson@lubbockonline.com • 766-2166

College football

Who: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Jones AT&T Stadium

Records: Oklahoma 2-1, 0-1 in Big 12 Conference; Tech 4-0, 1-0

Last game: Tech 24, Iowa State 13; Kansas State 24, Oklahoma 19

Last meeting: Tech 41, Oklahoma 38 last year in Norman, Okla.

TV: ABC (channel 28; Suddenlink Cable channel 8)

Line: Oklahoma by 4½

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Stoops and Stoops scared poopless-

So sports fans- here we are with mighty OU wary of having to come to the Jones to face a much improved version of the Raiders from last yr. And they lost at home last yr to us! If they lose again this week it will be first time in forever the Sooners have lost two games in a row. Could happen! Ask 60,000 plus reved up fans! This is the time of game we long for and on a natl stage. Last time we were on a stage such as this with them, 2008, they cleaned our clock! It was embarrassing how ill prepared Leach was that day. So ome early and come loud and lets beat the hell out of the mighty Sooners - AGAIN!

And not to look ahead, but West Virginia has to travel by bus from Morgantown to Pittsburgh catch a plane and fly 3 hrs to Austin this week. And then right after the game they get to do the return probably getting in to Morgantown about 5 in the morning! Some kind of fun! In fact they will like it so much they will do basically the same thing the following weekend when they come to Lubbock. Well, they asked for it and maybe, just maybe, it'll give us a little edge. We will need all the help we can get playing five ranked teams in a row. Lets focus on one at time and nothing else. Wreck em Raiders!!!!


@Flash Lite And About Whining OU Fans

Every thought you have is right on target. Stoops is in danger of losing value in Norman because of inability to beat Tech--something that got a few coaches run off in College Station with the exception of Sherman.

An article in THE DAILY OKLAHOMAN and carried in THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS was a hoot. Bemoaned the beyond terrible fans in Lubbock, the beyond terrible city itself, and the fact that OU has lost repeatedly in Lubbock because they were cheated by the officiating and replay crews. And the comments made by their fans reached new lows in name calling.

Funny thing, duing the five thousand years OU was beating Tech there were no complaints. The whining pre-game excuses mean their fans are anticipating their second conference loss--and a season down the drain.



Boo hoo!

I agree with Flashlight and FactsRFacts. They are already making excuses and boo hooing about our terrible ugly fans. Your right Facts you never heard complaints when they were beating us every year. They are scared and another loss would be the beginning of the end for OU season! Tech needs to be confident, but smart. The need to eliminate most or all of the turnovers. Especially, turnovers that give easy points to the other team. They can't have that with OU. They are struggling, but bad turnovers from us can turn the tide easily in this game. Take care of the football and I think we win! I see a fairly close game and we pull away in the second half. Something like Tech 38, OU 23. I hope we just blow them out, but OU REALLY needs this game and I think they will play us tough...until we break them! Go Tech beat OU!!!!


Yeah. That whole student

Yeah. That whole student section thing is a crock. I remember a trip up to Norman back in the early days of the Big12 under Spike when Byron Hanspard was running circles around OU defenders. We were ramped up and rowdy. Unfortunately they sat us next to the Ex-Sooner players. Talk about sportsmanship. We were told to sit the F#$@ down and shut up when Tech did anything good. We didnt. So this group followed us to our bus. I'm not going to lie it was pretty exciting and scary, but no one ever hears these stories. F- OU Give em hell student section.



UT, OU etc. Only difference in the type of fans is the colors. Ive never been to Norman to a game, but it sounds like a game at Darrell Royal memorial douchebag heaven. I'll admit we have rude rowdy and sometimes inebriated (sp?) fans. And I like that reputation. I agree, Flash, Leach did not have the '08 edition of the Raiders prepared and it was embarrasing. If, God forbid, the outcome Saturday is the same, does that mean? To what would you attribute that outcome?



@Coyote...I think if the same thing happens it means that mentally the team had a mental breakdown....meaning they are thinking too highly of themselves, or they allowed the pressure of the moment to caused them to make mental mistakes. I don't expect that to happen. This team seems more grounded, but they are all young guys and susceptable to those kinds of mental mistakes and way of thinking. I hope it is not a repeat of 2008! I'm nervous about a disasterous showing, and I'm not even playing, so I'm sure the team have. or have had some of the same feelings, they just need to keep them in check and play sound, smart football. Go Tech!!



Probably a combination of a mental breakdown by all involved much like what happened in Norman in 2008. Similarly, Tuberville would be partly to blame as well as the players just like that game in Norman. I really think, and thought, if we win in Ames, we'll beat OU. Im not sure actually that we can outscore West Virginia, which is a team not unlike the Red Raiders we saw during the first decade of this century, but this defense has exceeded my expectations in every other game this season. Hopefully they will continue to improve exponentially each week through this stretch of five ranked teams. They will have to if we're going to come out with more Ws than Ls. @ Elby, if you read this, and you recall your discussion with feaco on another thread about who mentioned the "L" word first, I would like to call your attention to the first post of this thread.


no comparison

to a Alabama vs Auburn game. OU fans are just scared they are going to headed to Norman 2-2 overall & 0-2 in the conference.


Youre right

There are few games that compare to Bama and Auburn. The closest we had was TAMU / Texas, now that ones gone.

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