To Blitz or Not to Blitz?

One of the most dynamic games in Texas Tech history is undoubtedly the Insight Bowl against Minnesota from last season. The Red Raiders went from being absolutely dominated to absolutely dominating. What caused this drastic 180? Was it play-calling, team unity, or something else? RaiderPower breaks down these questions and more.

One of the most dynamic games in Texas Tech history is undoubtedly the Insight Bowl against Minnesota from last season.  The Red Raiders were thoroughly dominated for the first 38 minutes of the contest, resulting in a 38-7 lead for the Minnesota Gophers with only 7:47 remaining in the 3rd quarter. 

Tech put together an amazing comeback though, scoring 31 unanswered points and forcing the game into overtime.

Now the big question is, what sparked this complete 180 in the 2nd half?

Several of the Red Raider faithful have attributed the complete shutdown of the Minnesota offense to more aggressive defensive play calling.  We decided to take this theory to task, as we re-watched the game and took notes on each and every defensive play Tech ran.  Below is the statistical breakdown of how the Tech defense faired when rushing various numbers of defenders.
 

AGAINST THE RUN
# of Players Rushed Avg. Yards Gained
4 5.8
5 5.1
6 4.3
7 3


 

AGAINST THE PASS
# of Players Rushed Avg. Yards Gained
4 9.6
5 8.5
6 3.1
7 1.5


As the game progressed, it is very apparent that the defense became more aggressive.
 

QUARTER BREAKDOWN
Quarter Avg. # of Players Rushed Points Allowed
1 4.75 14
2 4.82 21
3 5.00 3
4 5.13 0
OT 5.40 3

There are several ways these numbers could be interpreted.  Although there does appear to be a direct correlation between blitzing and a more successful defense, there are several other factors that should be considered.  For example, it is hard to take into account down and distance on every play, how the infrequent number of blitzes increases their effectiveness, etc...

One thought after re-watching the game is that the offense and defense really feed off each other.  The defense definitely had its problems in the first half, but the offense struggled just as much.  Apparently, there is something to the phrase that Mike Leach always uses, "Rise up on all 3 sides of the ball." 

When the Red Raiders play together as a team, there isn't any team in the country they can't compete with.


 


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