Webb Strangles Defense

A recap of Texas Tech's Friday Night Lights scrimmage at Jones AT&T Stadium. The offense, led by quarterback Davis Webb, looked razor sharp.

Friday Night Lights was much like the Petro Scrimmage only more so. Thus, when the number ones were on the field the offense dominated, and when the twos were playing, the defense got the upper hand. But on this night, the disparity was even greater.

Led by Davis Webb, who is beginning to look like a truly special quarterback, the starting offense scored at will against a defense that looked totally overmatched. The offense did it through the air, they did it on the ground, and they could have done it underwater if necessary.

Webb rarely experienced any pressure from the defense, and on those rare occasions when a defender got in his area code, he coolly stepped aside and threw strikes to receivers who were streaking open.

But much of the time it was unnecessary for Webb to do anything but drop and fire. The starting cornerbacks had a terrible time trying to cover Jakeem Grant, D. J. Polite-Bray and Bradley Marquez. Simple skinny posts seemed to be too much, and safety help was often mysteriously absent. In short, the secondary was a shambles, and it got precious little help from the guys up front.

But it wasn't just a matter of poor coverage and no pass rush. The line and linebackers were gouged badly in the run game, too. On the first series of the scrimmage, Deandre Washington niftily tripped through the line of scrimmage, juked a linebacker, made Josh Keys miss badly, and then rocketed roughly 50 yards for a touchdown. And while there were no more long bursts such as that one, the running game still managed to grind out good yardage through the A and B gaps throughout the scrimmage.

While the pass rush was invisible, the coverage poor, and the rush defense flaccid, the tackling was quite putrescent. Whenever a receiver caught a pass of intermediate length, it was a cinch that at least two, and sometimes four defenders would miss the tackle. Case in point was a 35-yard Jordan Davis touchdown in which four tacklers whiffed between the 10-yard line and the goal line.

But as bad as many of the players looked, the scheme wasn't much better. Kenny Williams was seen attempting to cover Jakeem Grant with the predictable result being a long touchdown. Blitzes, when not completely ineffective, were ill-timed, often resulting in completions in exactly the area from which the blitz originated. In short, the defense looked unsound.

Aside from solid play out of the second unit, the only overall positive on defense was turnovers. Dorian Crawford, Tierry Nguema and Tyler Middleton all had picks. The meaningful caveat is that they all came off of Tanner Tausch's arm. And at this point Tausch is not in the same class as Davis Webb or just about any other starting quarterback in the Big 12.

The hope is that the defense is not that bad, but rather that the offense is that good. Webb, for one, is looking superlative. He has the poise and pocket presence of a player far older, and his accuracy, suspect at times last year, is laser-like.

The receivers appear to be as good as advertised, if not better thanks to the rise of Polite-Bray. There were a few dropped balls—Grant dropped a Webb beauty in the end zone—but the play-making is electrifying. One cannot envy the secondary tasked with covering these guys.

And the line is coming along. Pass protection was much better than in the Petro Scrimmage and run blocking was also up to scratch. That run blocking, by the way, gets a good boost from the presence of fullback Rodney Hall.

But, if nothing else, Matt Wallerstedt has plenty of fuel with which to fire up his defense. For that reason alone, I'd expect a better defensive showing in the Red-Black Scrimmage later this month.

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