The Difference between Baylor and Texas Tech

Texas Tech has a long way to go to match up with the elite teams of the Big 12, such as Baylor.

In some respects, Texas Tech is competitive with what may be the best college football team in America. But there are three areas where the Red Raiders are not in Baylor's league.

The first is physicality. On defense, the Bears attack the ball-carrier with felonious intent. They aren't interested in simply getting him to the ground; they aim to put him six feet under.

Offensively, Baylor's line simply overwhelms all opposition, and their running backs punish any defender who dares attempt a tackle. Heck, even receiver Antwan Goodley plays his position like a linebacker, and he is built like one, too.

Tech just doesn't measure up. The defensive line is not capable of maintaining the line of scrimmage; the linebackers, while fast, are simply too light and rangy to deliver heavy blows, and diminutive cornerback Bruce Jones is the secondary's biggest hitter. Offensively, Tech's receivers are a physical group, but no Red Raider running backs run with the malice of Baylor's Devin Chafin, who is a fourth-stringer. The difference between the physicality of the two teams is stark.

Second is tackling. Baylor tackles much like an NFL defense. Bear defenders converge on the ball rapidly and confidently, and when tackling they run through the body of the ball-carrier. Missed tackles are conspicuous by their absence.

The Red Raiders are the opposite. They stutter and jitter their way to the ball-carrier, and then, rather than striking at the torso at full bore, dive at the feet, missing more often than not. Again, the difference is astonishing.

The third is special teams. Now make no mistake, Baylor is not tremendous in special teams; they are average. But Texas Tech falls well below even that modest level. Missed extra points (two in as many games), poor kickoff and punt coverage, kickoffs that don't reach the goal line, and penalties that negate good returns have become hallmarks of Tech's special teams.

Special teams may not spell the difference when you lose by 29 points, but in tight games their play will often determine who wins and who loses. It's too late for Tech special teams to improve much this season, but more dismal special teams play in 2014 will be intolerable.

Crazy Lineup in the Secondary: Prior to the start of the season, how many people would have predicted the Red Raiders would have Justis Nelson, Dorian Crawford and Tanner Jacobson as three quarters of their secondary, in crunch time, against the lethal passing attack of the Baylor Bears? But that is exactly who Matt Wallerstedt was rolling with for much of the second half.

Injuries have shelved safeties J. J. Gaines, Tre Porter, and another true freshman, Keenon Ward. Poor play by Ola Falemi and Derrick Mays has pressed Nelson into duty at cornerback. Now Nelson played reasonably well, and Crawford seemed to hold his own, but if the Bears hadn't run through Tech's front seven like a blowtorch through butter, the freshman might have gotten a serious baptism. At any rate, it is clear that Tech still does not possess Big 12 quality depth on the defensive side of the ball. Yet another area in dire need of improvement.

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