Game Plan: How Texas Tech Needs To Attack Houston

zLUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Justin Stockton
zLUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Justin Stockton /

The Texas Tech football program is set to face the Houston Cougars in a key non-conference matchup today.  Here is how the Red Raiders should attack Cougars on both sides of the ball.

The consensus about today’s Texas Tech/Houston matchup is that there is no consensus.  The game features two undefeated teams that believe they are contenders in their respective conferences.  However, both teams still have quite a bit to prove meaning today’s contest will be especially revealing.

Through two games, the Red Raiders have continued the program’s tradition of having a high-powered offense.  Thus far, Tech has the top offense in the nation and has scored over fifty points in both games.  On defense, the Red Raiders have shown noticeable improvement though last week’s 45 points surrendered are proof that there is still a ways to go.

Meanwhile, no one really knows what to make of the Cougars because they are yet to play an opponent the caliber of the Red Raiders.  Houston held Arizona to just 16 points and allowed just a field goal to an over-matched Rice squad.

Houston is a solid team that has success against power-5 programs in previous seasons going 6-0 in its last six contests.  So how should the Red Raiders attack Houston today?  Let’s take a look.

Texas Tech Offense

Most football experts believe that the most effective offenses go north and south far more often than east to west.  However, Texas Tech should look to exploit the edge of the Houston defense, especially with the ground game.

Running through all-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver is not likely to yield much success.  Considering that only one Texas Tech running back, Desmond Nisby, is adept at running in between the tackles, it would stand to reason that Kliff Kingsbury would see if he can use the speed of his skill position players to get to the edge.

Kingsbury should try to get the ball to Justin Stockton and inside receivers Keke Coutee and Cam Batson on the run allowing them to get around the edge.  Doing so would also take Oliver out of the play.

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Furthermore, wide receivers Dylan Cantrell and Derrick Willies have proven to be exceptional blockers on the outside.  Expect Tech to open the game by getting the ball out of Nic Shimonek’s hands quickly, especially until Brandon Jones can assess how well his offensive line is able to handle Oliver and the UH pass rushers.

If Tech is able to exploit Houston with its speed close to the line of scrimmage, the Cougar defense will be forced to bring safety help into the box.  That will eventually open up the deep passing game for Shimonek and his wide receivers.

Houston is a tough and physical defense.  Sometimes, it is not smart to try to run through a wall and today, Tech should try to go around the wall as quickly as possible.

Texas Tech Defense

Defensively, the most important key for David Gibbs’ defense will be to tackle in space.  Houston’s passing game is predominantly swing passes and bubble screens.

UH quarterback Kyle Allen is near the bottom of the nation in yards per completion at just under 10.  This bodes well for a revamped Red Raider secondary that features three newcomers over 6-feet and 200-pounds.

Thus far, Tech’s secondary and linebackers have been terrific in pursuing the ball and tackling as a group.  When Arizona State had success last week, it was on isolation plays that put superstar wide receiver N’Keal Harry in space.  Fortunately, Houston does not boast a receiver of Harry’s ability.

Being as Allen gets rid of the ball so quickly, it would be wise for Gibbs to be judicious with his blitzes.  In fact, if Gibbs were ever going to take the blitz package out of the game plan, today could be one.

Houston wants to catch teams in a blitz and hit a screen or slant behind the blitzer for a big game.  Look for Tech to play a sound defensive scheme that keeps plenty of defenders in coverage.  The key will be to keep the receiver in front of the defense and make the tackle with the first defender that arrives.  Broken tackles could be devastating today so Tech must be solid at first contact.

Also, expect to see the bigger Texas Tech corners playing tight coverage at the line.  That has been the case most of the season and press coverage would make sense again today.  Tech needs to make Kyle Allen do what he is not accustomed to, hitting the deep ball.

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This game feels like a classic chess game between two creative offensive-minded head coaches.  One has to like Kingsbury’s creativity and Gibbs’ experience in this contest and Texas Tech fans are hoping that leads to a win.