Tech's Newest Tradition and More

Has the run defense for the Red Raiders always been a problem? Joe Yeager dissects this and more.

Nothing New under the West Texas Sun: Many Red Raider fans were aghast that Tech surrendered 439 rushing yards to the Texas Longhorns. Can't say I blame them really, but truth be told, horrendous rushing defense is actually a Red Raider tradition of sorts. Counting the Assault in Austin, Texas Tech has given up more than 300 yards rushing 13 times since 2000.

 

The shining examples of how not to play run defense are as follows: Nebraska, 2000, 442 yards rushing; Nebraska, 2001, 335 yards rushing; Ohio State 2002, 317 yards rushing; Oklahoma, 2002, 329 yards rushing; Oklahoma State, 2003, 352 yards rushing; Missouri, 2003, 469 yards rushing; Texas, 2004, 351 yards rushing; Oklahoma State, 2005, 303 yards rushing; Oklahoma State, 2007, 366 yards rushing; Texas A&M, 2009, 321 yards rushing; Nevada, 2011, 312 yards rushing; Iowa State, 2011, 368 yards rushing; Texas, 2011, 439 yards rushing.

 

Obviously, the current defense is taking Tech's newest tradition to levels unheard. The season is only eight games old and they've already broken the record for most 300-yard rushing games allowed in a season, and they're the only defense to allow back-to-back 300-yard rushing games. Bravo!

 

Given that Tech closes the season with Oklahoma State, Missouri and Baylor, all teams which run the ball very well, it's not out of the question that the Red Raiders could allow 300 yards rushing in five straight games. Who needs tortillas!

 

Misery Index: Texas' seven touchdown drives were neither short, nor were they grind-it-out affairs with multiple white-knuckle third down conversions. Nope. The Red Raiders didn't even make the Horns sweat for their booty. Texas' average touchdown drive covered 77 yards in eight plays and took only 3:39 off the clock. Moreover, Tech forced the Longhorns into third down situations only nine times. By contrast, the Red Raiders faced third down 19 times.

 

Don't Forget that Pass Defense! Folks are double-teeing off on Tech's lack of a rush defense, and for good reason. But let us not ignore the pass defense in our orgiastic bloodlust. The Longhorns completed only five passes, but averaged over 31 yards per completion. The defensive collapse was not only profound; it was  comprehensive.

 

Nobody Does It Better: Perhaps it's a function of my proximity to the Red Raider football program, but it seems to me that no team collapses as splendidly as Texas Tech. Most teams lose a heck of a lot more than the Red Raiders, but none of them get pulverized as completely as Tech does. When the Red Raiders do it wrong, they really do it wrong.

 

But have these epic collapses become more common in the Tuberleach era? Does the high-risk/high-reward offense result in more three-and-outs and gassed defenses that surrender more points? The evidence is suggestive but not entirely conclusive.

 

During the final 12 years of Spike Dykes' tenure, the average Tech loss was by 15 points. In the Tuberleach period the average loss has been by 18 points. During the final dozen years of the Spike Age, Tech experienced seven losses out of 62 by 30 points or more, which equates to one such loss in seven. In the Tuberleach era there have been a dozen 30-point plus blowouts in 52 total losses, which comes out to one in four.

 

Thus, while average point spread per loss has not increased dramatically, the frequency of humiliating butt-roastings has escalated tremendously. I'll leave it to somebody with a Fullbright fellowship to compare Tech's blowout numbers with the other 119 FBS football programs.


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